If Tony Hall is the most well regarded croquet player in Australia, David Openshaw could qualify equally well in his own country. Popularity may not be the main qualification for the presidency of an international association, but when the job calls for bringing together disparate personalities and interests from many countries in common cause, a warm smile and a hearty hello don't hurt.
Croquet's major team event, the venerable MacRobertson Shield, is still a creature of the MacRobertson countries - England, New Zealand, Australia, and the US. The WCF has token official status in the MacRob, and the WCF does sanction the event, but these are little more than gestures of intent pointed to a melding of interests that is nowhere on the horizon. Informed observers believe bringing the MacRob into the WCF as a WCF event is still years away.
Another challenger to the WCF's supremacy in international competitions has disappeared, at least temporarily. The Sonoma-Cutrer World Championship (sometimes call the "Wine Country World Croquet Championship") lost its venue when the winery was purchased last year by a large Kentucky-based corporation who wanted a shorter, less expensive public relations charity showcase than the week-long annual that Brice Jones, over the course of 15 years, built into the most glittering event in the croquet world. Sonoma-Cutrer's departure left the WCF with the one and only world championship event.
David Openshaw, the new president-to-be, has the most distinguished playing background of all the presidents, including Tony Hall, who is no slouch on the courts. He has played in all the major events perhaps captained more British teams than any of his countrymen.
President's role has shifted in recent years
The first presidents kept a fairly low profile, in the shadow of Chris Hudson. Ashley Heenan of New Zealand was the first president, followed by Fred Rogers of Ireland, then Bill Berne of America. Although Berne traveled to Australia and France for major events, he acknowledges that Tony Hall set a new and higher standard for globe-trotting croquet diplomacy. It's a standard that even Openshaw might not be able to match, but he's making a good beginning, putting in a lengthy appearance at the 2003 MacRobertson Shield in West Palm Beach in November.
Berne, the third WCF president, is given high marks for helping to untangle the financial debacle surrounding the world championship event in France in the mid 90's. In recalling the evolution of the WCF, Berne points to early errors that came from too much optimism about paying for players' travel expenses and lodging. The money was never there. "There is no established arena for income in the WCF," Berne says, a continuing problem. But he credits the WCF's achievements in bringing unity to a world of rules and standards, and expanding beyond the English-speaking world. Bringing Egypt into the fold was a major accomplishment, for what it portends for the future of Golf Croquet in expanding the popularity of the sport.
As the new president, Openshaw brings a lot more to the round-table of international croquet brotherhood than a "nice guy" reputation. With a Masters in both physics and business studies, he is a management consultant listing his main interests as "logistics, management coaching, and the leadership of major change programmes."
Openshaw puts a British stamp on the WCF
Openshaw's nationality as well as his popularity may be one of his prime assets as WCF president. The British have been among the federation's most persistent critics. If the WCF is seen as a threat to British supremacy in the sport they put on the world stage, that threat is not very evident today: the Brits have the presidency of the federation, and they are hosting the next two official championships as well - golf croquet in 2004 and association croquet in 2005; moreover, they are leading the world in promoting at the local club level Egypt's gift to the sport: Golf Croquet.
David Openshaw is married to a medical doctor named Jacqueline; the couple have two children now in their twenties. The demands of professional and family life have not prevented Openshaw from compiling an impressive record as a player. He has been a member of the Great Britain croquet team since 1979 and its Captain from 1982 to 2002 (with the exception of 1996). His trophies include British Open Champion in 1979, 1981 and 1985; British Doubles Champion (with Mark Avery) in 1985 and 1987; British Men's Champion in 1981, 1991 and 1995: US Open Champion in 1991; Canadian Open Champion in 1991; runner-up in the WCF World Championship of 1991; winner of Resort at the Mountain in 1999; and British Mixed Doubles Champion (with Kathleen Priestley) in 2002 and 2003.
A Nomination has been received from Mr. David Openshaw, England, for the position of President of the WCF. No further nominations have been received and Mr. David Openshaw will assume that position, effective from 15 December 2003.
Mr. David Openshaw has been a member of the Croquet Association Council from 1981-1985, and from 1998 onwards. In both periods he was on the International Committee and is currently Chairman of that committee. He has regularly played croquet overseas in New Zealand, Australia and in USA. He has played in Canada, Italy, Ireland and Scotland.
With the insight provided into the different needs of croquet around the world he looks forward to using this experience to help the WCF develop croquet worldwide. Mr. Openshaw has been a member of the Management Committee for the past 2 years. The election of Mr. David Openshaw as President will create a vacancy on the Management Committee after 15 December and that vacancy will be filled in accordance with Rule 5 K of the Rules of the WCF.
"Mr. Tony Hall, retiring President of the WCF, will continue as a member of the Management Committee as Immediate Past President.
"Nominations have been received from Mr. Peter Payne, Switzerland, Mr. Amir Ramsis Naguib, Egypt and Mr. Charles Jones, New Zealand for the three vacant positions on the Management Committee. Accordingly an election is not required in terms of the Rules of the WCF and the three nominees will assume office on 15 December 2003.
"Retiring members of the Management Committee who did not seek re-election were Mr. Colin Irwin, England and Mr. Ahmed Hamroush, Egypt. These Management Committee members contributed significantly to the development of the WCF. Their dedication has been a significant factor in the continued growth of the WCF as the International body representing world croquet.
"Mr. Peter Payne, Switzerland is an existing member of the Management Committee and will now continue in that role. New members elected to the Management Committee bring to the committee a wealth of experience at the National level. Their fresh views and contributions are keenly anticipated.
Mr. Charles Jones is currently President of the New Zealand Croquet Council and has been actively involved in New Zealand croquet since 1977 as both a national coach and manager of New Zealand national teams. He has a particular interest in the promotion and development of all variations of the game of croquet.
Mr. Amir Ramsis Naguib has been President of the Egyptian Croquet Federation since 2001 and a major sponsor of croquet in Egypt for many years. His particular interests are the development of croquet in Arab and African countries and the development of regional associations in those areas.
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