David  Grevemberg

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and our membership are very excited to be going to Rwanda for our 2019 General Assembly from September 3 to 5.

Rwanda is our youngest member with this visit marking the 10-year anniversary of the country joining the family of Commonwealth nations in 2009. 

It is the second country - alongside Mozambique - in the Commonwealth without historic UK ties. 

I think this fact is quite symbolic of a modern and progressive Commonwealth and we should be proud of how our unique community has played a positive role in strengthening the country over the last decade as it has rebuilt during the post conflict period of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. 

This is also a significant milestone in the lead-up to Rwanda hosting the prestigious Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2020.

It will be a busy time for the Commonwealth sport family at the Kigali Convention Centre that will include strategic forums, workshops and the formal proceedings of the CGF Annual General Meeting. 

The Commonwealth Games Movement is poised for a key gathering in Rwanda ©Getty Images
The Commonwealth Games Movement is poised for a key gathering in Rwanda ©Getty Images

A significant part of our work will be the unveiling of the Transformation 2022 Refresh strategic plan for 2019 to 2022 along with the launch of the new Commonwealth sport brand. 

This means we aren't just unveiling a new logo and emblem but actually linking the narrative, positioning and meaning that underpins the brand ethos.

We will unsurprisingly be looking ahead to Birmingham 2022 which is naturally aligned to the Transformation 2022 Refresh. Together with the delivery partners, we are strategically planning for how we can use the next Commonwealth Games, hosted in the UK's West Midlands, as a launchpad for the growth of our Movement.

An important part of our deliberations will be around the approach to further evolve and optimise the Commonwealth Games sports programme by looking at, for example, sustainable event delivery, broadcast and digital appeal and how we approach the right balance to core and optional sports.

We know that there is huge interest in this area as we recently saw with positive global media coverage around the inclusion of women's cricket T20, beach volleyball and Para-table tennis to Birmingham 2022 as sports programme enhancements. Our review of the sports programme will see our membership set a trajectory for future editions of the Games that ultimately will continue to deliver inspirational sporting moments.

Amongst other areas, we will also look at the Birmingham 2022 athlete allocation process, our new digital strategy, resolutions to increase gender equality across the leadership of our Movement and supporting Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) in embedding human rights and influencing social changes in the impactful work that they do at home and abroad.

This General Assembly will see our quadrennial elections take place for every position on the Executive Board and Sports Committee. I am delighted that we have a number of extremely strong candidates putting themselves forward in leadership roles at the service of Commonwealth sport. 

This includes Dame Louise Martin, who is standing unopposed for the position of CGF President after her first four-year tenure. Dame Louise, a former Commonwealth athlete herself, is the first female to hold the office of President in the history of our Movement and we are fortunate to have her leading us on this exciting journey.

Dame Louise Martin is standing unopposed for another term as CGF President ©Getty Images
Dame Louise Martin is standing unopposed for another term as CGF President ©Getty Images

During our time in Rwanda, delegates will be officially invited to visit The Kigali Genocide Memorial, a place of remembrance and learning which commemorates the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. This opportunity will undoubtedly be a very poignant and reflective moment for all of us.

As a Movement, we are simply delighted to be partnering with our friends and colleagues in Rwanda; an inspiring country with passionate, proactive sports leadership.

While we look forward to our family coming to the country, we are naturally disappointed that the Indian CGA has chosen not to attend this CGF General Assembly, citing their protest to the non-selection of shooting on the Birmingham 2022 sport programme. 

This gathering is the opportunity for all CGAs to contribute to the strategic direction and approach to areas such as athlete allocations systems, the evolution of the sports programme and the adoption of Transformation 2022's refresh. It is therefore unfortunate that they have chosen not to attend these important deliberations.

That being said, this moment is an important call to action for us all. We must and shall work closely with our Indian colleagues at the CGA as well as across India's public, private and third sectors to accomplish the following:

Firstly, we need to clarify any potential misconceptions that may exist regarding the exclusion of shooting from Birmingham 2022 and its ongoing status as an optional sport on the Commonwealth Games sports programme. 

Secondly, we need to learn first-hand about the sporting and societal legacy of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games across India. 

India has boycotted the meeting in Kigali after shooting was omitted from Birmingham 2022 ©Getty Images
India has boycotted the meeting in Kigali after shooting was omitted from Birmingham 2022 ©Getty Images

Thirdly, we need to share and discuss with the Indian sporting community the Transformation 2022 Refresh and alignment to the strategic direction of the Movement.

These three areas are very important for Dame Louise and I to discuss in person with our Indian friends and colleagues. We look forward to this important visit to India later this year.

For now, our focus is firmly on the General Assembly as we look forward to listening and learning from our Rwandan colleagues on how they have distinctly used the power of sport to drive social change to realise the shared value and ambitions of their communities and the Commonwealth.