The International Canoe Federation: A very short introduction
The International Canoe (ICF) is the “umbrella” or “parent” organization of all national canoe organizations worldwide.
The ICF, formerly known as the Internationale Reprasentantschaft Fur Kanusport (IRK) is 90 years old.
“The Austrian, Danish, German and Swedish Canoe Associations founded the (IRK) in Copenhagen, Denmark on 20 January 1924.”
On 7 June 1946, the (IRK) convened in Stockholm and decided to can their organization “The International Canoe Federation (ICF).”
The (IFC) had five goals:
- Form a link between the Canoeing Associations of various countries.
- Organize international competitions in paddling and sailing.
- Promote and foster foreign touring
- Introduce international recognized symbols for rivers
- Exchange information on Canoeing national publications, lectures and films
The ICF is responsible for managing all aspects of canoe competition. It decides what a “legitimate” sport is and what is not. Members of the (ICF) are also committed to addressing inequalities that might prohibit members of the international community from participating in a sport “serves as a unifying symbol among cultures.”
For example, the ICF in partnership with the International Va’a Federation (IVF) made it possible for paddlers with disabilities to compete at an international level.
The (ICF) and (IVF), “In an effort to expand the sport of canoeing to be inclusive of people with a disability,” launched the Paracanoe Development Program in December 2009:
This made it possible to paddlers with disabilities to compete in the Olympics. It also gained attention for the Paralympic movement.
Paracanoe, by the way, incorporates disciplines from both canoe and kayaking. It allows people with disabilities to enjoy paddling. This can be at a local, regional, nat6ional or international level.
The ICF has made great strides in advancing the rights of people with disabilities. However, the demand for “Paralympics” began as a grassroots movement.
One example is Disabled Sports USA. “Since 1967, Disabled Sports USA focused on one goal. Improve the lives of wounded warriors, youth and adults with disabilities by providing sports and recreation opportunities.”
These sports opportunities transform peoples’ lives. “If I can do this, I can do anything.”
She created the Rochester River Challenge, which is the largest outrigger canoe race on the East Coast.
CAOO provides recreational programs and competitive training for people with physical disabilities, and intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Jan Whitaker is a member of the United States Canoe Association