as the 2022 IFAF World Women’s Championships get set to kick off in Vantaa, Finland, IFAF President Pierre Trochet is winding up a whirlwind for the first seven months of his new presidency.
Elected in December 2021, Trochet took over from Richard MacLean who had navigated the International Federation of American Football through the most turbulent period in its existence.
We asked Trochet about the first seven months of his presidency and the outlook moving forward as IFAF cements ties with major organizations throughout the world including the National Football League.
Since taking over as president of IFAF, you have had an eventful seven months which winds up with the Women’s World Championship this coming week in Finland. Basically, you hit the ground running. Tell us about some of the key developments.
Trochet: We have seen positive developments but been swamped since the election. It took more than a few weeks to understand the post-Covid situation for the international federation in the short, medium, and long-term issues. The work done by the previous board, under the leadership of Richard MacLean, has laid a unified and solid foundation; it was important for our new team and myself to be able to create a new dynamic within IFAF and to look to the future with ambition.
This future belongs to the athletes around the world. They are the ones who make the game great, joined by thousands of coaches, referees, and national leaders to keep moving forward.
We haven’t only got our most crucial post COVID competitions back on track, but we are also expanding. We began with working around the modernization of our governance, the development and support for emerging national federations, and we started to work on the creation of a training program for referees and coaches. We still have the ambition to develop our activities in all territories. A projection of the competition until 2030 is under work in America, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Europe. This work concerns all categories and all teams, both men’s and women’s.
All this work should lead us to be candidates for permanent recognition by the International Olympic Committee. Our ambition announced since the World Games (with the National Football League) must allow us to open a new page of American football and flag football history throughout the world.
You have overseen the Flag tournament at the World Games and now you have the Women’s World Championships over the next week. What other competitions are in store for the rest of the year?
Trochet: The World Games were fantastic. This tournament will go down in history as a landmark event, just like the first inclusion of American football in 2005. For the first time, the addition of flag football to a major international multi-sport competition made a lasting impression. Even if several unknown elements came to give work to our staff, we could demonstrate the interest of having flag football in a multisport environment, thanks to the participants’ positive involvement.
In a few days, we will have the first world competition of American football since 2017. It will be the most influential women’s world cup ever organized by IFAF with the support of the SAJL, the Finnish Federation of American Football. The Finnish federation has long demonstrated its expertise in organizing major competitions.
The main competition in 2023 will, of course, be the World Championship in Germany. The work has started on the AFVD (American Football Federation of Germany) side of operations, and we will attend one of the most beautiful world championships since 2011 (Austria)
Between these two important competitions, 2022/2023 will offer us the most important continental cycle of flag football since the beginning in 2003. We will have the European Championship in Limerick (Ireland) in August 2023, which could host African teams if we do not have a local organization on the African continent. Other continental championships are under development in America, and we have just received a bid for the Asia & Pacific zone.
Projects must be reviewed in detail, for club and national team continental competitions, with each newly elected continental chair.
For tackle football, Europe is ahead at the moment. It’s our mission to also look at a development pathway for the other continents.
For flag football, things with the current growth of the game worldwide are to build a new product and give the athletes a place to perform. I’m looking at a world tour based on what FIBA is doing with the 3×3 basketball.
The first in-person congress since 2018 has seen new continental chairs elected. Our board is now fully complete until 2024 time to deliver.
After just over a half a year at the helm, you have had a chance to get an idea of what needs to be done. Where do you foresee IFAF in the next three to five years?
Trochet: Our international governing body recovered its way forward. The upcoming planning of competitions is a good thing. It is what feeds our passion for the game. But to progress and project ourselves for five years and more, we must look at all the criteria that will make us credible partners for the Olympic movement, national federations, international sports institutions, and business partners.
For this, we must lead three branches within IFAF:
Our governance: Modernize our status, achieve progress in our relations with the continental and national institutions, make substantial progress in the involvement of women as major actors of the future and finally, ensure that we lead a clean and ethical professional organization.
Football Operations: We need to rearrange athletes, coaches, and referees at the center of our sports operations. Produce a skills certification plan and assist in the most in-demand areas. Finally, we need to assist our continental directors in delivering varied and stable competition planning.
Business Operations: We must diversify our income and create new media or commercial opportunities. Standardize the delivery of our best competitions and enter the world of Gen Z.
This is the first Women’s World Championship to be held since 2017. How much growth has there been in the sport since then?
Trochet: Even if it is the first women’s world competition since 2017, it will be challenging to establish a natural progression review. With two seasons impacted by the global pandemic, we are almost on a blank page.
What is certain is that domestic projects supporting female athletes must be strengthened. And it is with great pleasure that many national members make women’s sport a priority. We observed an impressive progression of athletes during the World Games in Flag Football.
For tackle football, Europe is on the rise, thanks to leaders such as Sweden, Germany, England, and Finland.