INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF CYNOLOGICAL SPORTS. WHAT IS IT? (by Yuri Ostashenko) Dog&Handler magazine (March/April 2003)
Why was IFCS created?
It hardly seems possible that more than three years have passed since our organization was first created. Many of us at that time were thinking that sports with dogs did not have their own international structure like other kinds of sports, such as those included in the Olympics. The only exception was sled-dog sport with an international federation (IFSS) and continental associations of its members. Our first steps toward creating an international sports organization had the goal of uniting efforts of national associations of different countries in integrating many kinds of dog sports into the international sports system and Olympic movement.
Why cynological sports?
At this early stage it was very important to give a general name to the kinds of sport we intended to oversee. This name would be included in the title of the new organization. But, what term could we find to unite sports such as Agility, Freestyle, Obedience, and many others? We started to look over different options because the name “Federation of Sports with Dogs” did not seem suitable because, as mentioned before, the International Federation of Sled-dog Sports already existed with a similar name and did also represent a dog sport. Then the great idea to call our types of disciplines with dogs “cynological sports” occurred to somebody. The word cynological is a derivative from the Greek words kynos, meaning dog, and logos, science. It seemed to me that this term accurately reflected the essence of most types of sport with dogs because performance success there depends in great degree on knowledge of dog behavior and scientific approach to the training of dogs. So the name of our international organization became International Federation of Cynological Sports – or IFCS – and was founded in 2000 as a union of national sports cynological organizations.
Structure of IFCS
It was planned originally that the structure of IFCS would be analogous to that of other international sports federations. According to the principles of the Olympic Charter, only one national organization can become a full member of IFCS. Since besides Agility IFCS will also oversee other kinds of sport with dogs, technical committees on different sports were formed. These committees will have the purpose of solving problems corresponding to their kind of sport, while the IFCS Council will solve general problems of all the involved sports. The Council also plans to create a judge committee which will facilitate education and certification of international judges, leaning on the technical committees for expertise in each sport. Continental associations of IFCS members will be created as well for holding continental competitions.
As everybody understands, one can give an organization a name and suggest any structure, but it is important for the organization to be filled with strong and active members. One of the most important steps in this direction was an international conference on cynological sports which we held in Moscow in February 2001. Representatives of five countries, Latvia, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine and United States of America, took part in the conference. The USA was represented by USDAA president Kenneth Tatsch. We had a lot of topics to discuss and planning to do for development of sports with dogs on the international level. During the conference, representatives of nations signed a Declaration of the International Sports Cynological Movement, which laid a foundation of cooperation between nations and formulated basic goals and tasks of our union. This meeting, in many respects, determined further development of the IFCS, as our organization at that point began to extend outside the borders of our own continent.
A strong cooperation was established between USDAA and sports union Russian League of Cynologists. Russian sportsmen have since participated twice in USDAA Grand Prix of Dog Agility World Championships[SM], in 2001 and 2002.
One more important step in the formation of IFCS was the First World Agility Championship (WAC), held in Moscow in March 2002 (see Julie Daniels’ side article for report on that Championship event). Five countries took part in the Championships: Belarus, Germany, Russia, Ukraine and the USA. Agility Association of Canada (AAC) also showed sports solidarity with AAC vice president, Carolyn Dockrill, arriving at the event as an official guest. Kenneth Tatsch judged the Championship, designing very interesting courses and exhibiting the highest level of judging skill.
National team of the USA was formed by USDAA based on results of selection competitions. Such famous US sportswomen as Julie Daniels, with Border Collie Spring, Stacy Peardot-Goudy with Border Collie Secret, Brenda Buja with Staffordshire Bull Terrier Stella, and Jeanette Hutchison with Jack Russell Terrier Reno, were included on the team. In spite of the long journey to Moscow and difficulties because of different time zones, the US team showed a high level of performance and won the gold medal in team competitions. In individual competitions Stacy Peardot-Goudy and Secret won first place in the maxi class and Riccarda Schuenemann of Germany with his Beagle, Nala, became World Champion in mini class.
After that first World Championship the IFCS international Agility rules were revised. Four height divisions were approved, and classes which appear in the UK and are popular in the US, such as Snooker, Gamblers, and Time Gamble, were included into the official program of the competitions.
Forward to the future
Now IFCS unites fourteen countries on all five continents. I’m sure that the number of countries who become IFCS members will grow every year, which will allow cynological sports to represent themselves seriously in the international sports scene. Representation of countries in the IFCS Council is considerably extended now. I serve as president of the IFCS and last August Kenneth Tatsch was elected as vice president to represent the USA and the American continent in the IFCS Council.
Rules on Obedience competitions, as suggested by Belgian Cynological Society, are being examined by IFCS. A more flexible system of IFCS cooperation will be accepted from those countries where no national sports organizations exist. These countries can enter IFCS as provisional members for two years, so that they will, on the one hand, have possibility to take part in the IFCS international competitions with their national team, and on the other hand, can work toward creation of a national organization for their country within two years. We are also working on preparing a system of international Agility titles, regulations about international judges and other documents.
European and Youth Championship for Combined Competitions will be held in Belarus this June. The Combined Competitions are a very interesting kind of cynological sport, popular in Eastern Europe. Somewhat similar to a triathalon, the event includes a 100 meter sprint with the dog, shooting of an air rifle, Tracking with obstacles for 300 meters (with obstacles performed by both handler and dog), and catching of the “criminal”.
The second IFCS World Agility Championship is planned to be held in the spring of 2004. Two countries are hoping to host the event; Spain and the Ukraine. A special commission of IFCS will decide on the host country and exact dates of the World Agility Championship will be determined.
One more interesting project we are planning to realize in the future includes holding of the World Cynological Games. And of course, our main goal is to enter the Olympics. Maybe that seems a utopia, and in fact the road for cynological sports to get to the Olympics in the future will be hard and possibly long. We are making our first steps towards it. There are no impossible things in our life, but much will depend on public support rendered to our organization by those people who care about development of sports with dogs and its Olympic future.