To All IRF Member Organisations and Interested Parties – from the IRF BOD

The IRF Board of Directors would like to wish you all a successful 2018! As we move quickly through the first month of the New Year, we want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to each of you – our federation members – for participating in our success for these last 20 years.

Threat to rafting unity

Recently it has come to our attention that Mr. Danilo Barmaz, President of FIRaft (the Italian Rafting Federation, an IRF member), has approached some of our member organizations with an invitation to abandon the IRF and join him in creating another international rafting federation. Barmaz plans to head a meeting in Belgrade, Serbia later this week, and has invited a few IRF members to sign up. Mr. Boris Purjakov, President of the Serbian Rafting Federation, and Mr. Fikret Yardmici, Rafting Vice-President of the Turkish Developing Sport Branches Federation, are assisting him in this effort.

In summary, Barmaz has suggested that our members do the following:

  • Abandon the IRF for his splinter group, and accept him as our leader.
  • Allow him to copy 99% of our IRF programs and ideas and use them for his group.
  • Allow him to run rafting as a quasi-independent part of the International Canoe Federation. (He is very unclear in his information on how this would work).

The invitation included documents containing defamatory and false statements about the IRF, and misleading information and promises that suggest that he will be able to accomplish far more than the IRF has done over the last 20 years — particularly the goal of putting rafting in the Olympic Games. Rather than work with the IRF to reach this goal as we desire, Barmaz seeks to create a splinter group, going completely against the basic concept of sport unity.

Unfortunately, much of what Barmaz is saying and promising is not based on fact. Here are the facts.

We urge all of you to read this information very carefully to ensure you are CORRECTLY informed.

Let us be clear – dividing our sport by creating a splinter group is destructive and counterproductive for rafting. It is a pathway to nowhere. The few sports that have done this have only become weaker, spending more energy and time fighting with each other than working towards achieving their common goals and representing their sport. Barmaz’s proposal is already doing this among a few of our IRF members, and taking valuable time away from other urgent tasks. GAISF and the IOC will only recognize a single federation to represent a sport, and urges all such divisions to unite.  We do not wish to waste time fighting with our brothers and sisters within our rafting family.  We prefer instead to work together to reach our common goals.

Not all of us can be expected to share the same views, of course. We are a union of thousands of individuals scattered around the globe, all with different customs, languages, politics, and personal goals. However, the IRF was created because 20 years ago rafters recognised that our greatest strength is through UNITY. Regardless of differences, we remain united under a single banner, because we all recognize that with unity comes strength, and a greater likelihood of achievement.  We appreciate the passion that Barmaz has for our sport, and welcome him to work with us instead of attempting to divide us.  Our door is open to him, as it always has been.

Through YOUR participation and enthusiasm, the IRF is known around the globe as the largest and most important rafting organization in the world, representing thousands of rafting enthusiasts joined together by our common love for rafting. As an IRF member, the IRF is your voice for rafting, run for the benefit of all of us. Our success depends entirely on each of you, and your organization’s active participation. The IRF is YOUR federation. The IRF is you.

The IRF is not simply a group of passionate individuals, it is a set of common ideals and values — created by all of us through compromise and agreement — and set down in writing in our Bylaws. In our Bylaws, we have all pledged to remain unified, working together for the betterment of our sport and for those that practice it.

As a democratic organization, the IRF is governed by our members, for our members. When differences arise between us, any of our members are free to propose to elect new IRF leaders and/or adopt new IRF policies to take us in the direction they prefer as a UNIFIED body.  Our hope is that Barmaz and the small group that is supporting him, will continue to honor this basic democratic principle.  Our intent is not to disenfranchise or disrespect the views of anyone, but instead to focus our attention on our common goals rather than on our disagreements.

In conclusion:

The IRF will not make false promises to you.

We WILL however, continue to work tirelessly for our sport, we WILL continue to work towards achieving GAISF and IOC recognition in pursuit of the Olympic dream, we WILL continue to improve our World and Continental Championships and our Guide Training System and our youth programs, and we WILL continue working on all of the other aspects of rafting (like recreational rafting and river conservation) that our members expect us to do.

The IRF is YOUR organization – a place where real river rafters can come together to enjoy our sport, have friendly but serious competitions, make friends all around the world, and to paddle and protect beautiful rivers. We look forward to having your continued support in the years ahead.

Thank you

Board of Directors
International Rafting Federation