Judo New Brunswick can count the youthful energy within its governance, since last year, at the age of 21, Andrew Vienneau became the youngest president in the history of Canadian provincial associations. As a bonus, the Maritime organization will benefit from the former athlete’s background, which is already full of enriching experiences.
At the time of being elected president, Mr. Vienneau was already on the board of directors of Judo New Brunswick, acting as treasurer. “It was a role that I was proud to occupy as a young judoka and which allowed me to not only develop my skills in an administrative role, but also to have a more up-to-date perspective of judo on the national stage.”
After competing on the Canadian scene, participating in the 2017 Francophonie Games, and spending a year at the Judo Canada National Training Centre in Montreal, he traded competition for administration and got involved in Judo New Brunswick. Such a youthful shift in provincial governance is notably unusual. “I had mentioned to several colleagues that I was interested in running for president one day. When the opportunity arose, I was nominated and ultimately elected. “
It was not out of naivety that he found himself in this role, he is fully aware of the challenges that lie ahead. “I think a big advantage I have in Judo New Brunswick is that I’m too young to have issues with other members. I consider the majority of our coaches and volunteers to be friends. So I am not only respected for my experiences as an athlete and board member, but I am also liked in the province for my respectability and maturity.”
A major obstacle, however, stood before his predecessors. “For some, there is a feeling of division in our province between the French-speaking communities, especially in the north, and the English-speaking communities, especially in the south, and it is true that in the past, there have been conflicts related to this feeling,” admits Andrew Vienneau, who intends to go beyond this duality.
“I am bilingual, and I really appreciate the fact that our province is too. Additionally, I have spent much of my athletic career on the Provincial Team, so I have travelled extensively inside and outside New Brunswick with various groups of young athletes. I have developed many great friendships and affinities through these experiences. It is therefore natural for me to have the vision of a unified province where activities and opportunities are equitable for all.”
He also wants to be part of the provincial leaders who will bring Canadian judo to unparallelled performances. His time at Judo Canada’s National Training Centre prepared him well for this other challenge, he said. “I learned a lot there about how the other provincial organizations work, from my teammates at the centre, as well as the workings and philosophies that Judo Canada follows and wants to implement within the provinces and territories.”
“You just have to look at the performance of the Canadian team and the development of judo in the rest of the country, especially in the West, over the past three to five years to see that the leaders of Judo Canada understand how to advance our sport when given the chance,” notes Andrew Vienneau.
“My hopes for Judo New Brunswick are that we align with the guidelines given to us by Judo Canada to properly develop all aspects of our sport at home. No more thinking that we should be doing everything ourselves as a single province. There is a lot of talent in New Brunswick. Not only do I believe it, but I am proud to say it! We have a great place in the history of judo in this country for such a small province, but we need to develop a system to maximize that talent. Too often, some of our athletes are close to being successful, but lack the necessary support or a clear path to progress. I have confidence in the work that Judo Canada is doing to optimize the development process and I want to cooperate with its leaders so that New Brunswick benefits by creating a sustainable system for our province.”
Nicolas Gill, CEO and High Performance Director at Judo Canada, is obviously delighted with this inclusive vision of development held by Andrew Vienneau, with the ultimate objective that New Brunswick will further enrich the great book of history of judo in the country.
“Andrew is the perfect example of what we encourage. For a judoka, the life of an athlete is only one stage in a journey that can last a lifetime! Judo needs young leaders, newness, and role models who will know how to do things differently but together and in concert. If we all row in the same direction and if we have the same goals, judo will be the winner and so will the young judokas.”
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