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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Cameron Yorke's open letter to the VAL Constituency

Cameron Yorke's open letter to the VAL Constituency

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An open letter from Cameron Yorke to the board, clubs, athletes and the VAL community.

Dear All,
I would like to openly express my disappointment at the results of last week’s board election at the Annual General Meeting. How the former President Andrew McManus was not re-elected astounds me and has left Andrew and some board members (including myself) in a state of shock.

I am a long time friend of Andrew’s and I have no problem saying that he is a man of integrity, high morals and one who has no other interest than doing what is best for the sport – which in most but not all occasions is usually what is also in the best interests for all the clubs.

For the clubs to vote out a person who has achieved so many positive things for the sport in his 2 years as President is a staggering occurrence, and makes me wonder if the clubs are more interested in playing politics and self interest than what is best for the sport.

One of the biggest problems for all sports and administrators to deal with is change, especially for sports with 100+ years of history, tradition and culture. Change is painful and change can be scary but Andrew has been open and honest at all times about his vision for the sport. At the same time any proposed changes have always involved full consultation of other board members who represent the clubs and careful consideration of the history and tradition of the clubs.

It is important to reflect that the clubs are a massive part of our sport, but not the only part. Yes the clubs formed the VAL and hold all the voting power at the AGM, and this can’t change unless 75% of the clubs agree to change this. Whilst I would like this changed so athletes, coaches and officials have more of a say on who is on the board it is ultimately up to the clubs to relinquish some of this power.

Incredibly, no clubs communicated to the CEO or board that they were unhappy with the leadership and vision of the President. Andrew is a fantastic communicator and always listening to people’s views, so I am staggered that not a single club advised him that they were unhappy. Clubs also had the opportunity at the AGM to ask questions to all candidates, yet no-one chose to question the sitting President about any concerns. Allegations of club, as opposed to individual discontent, can be viewed now only as false.

The treatment of the proposed constitutional changes at the AGM was indicative of the disturbing conduct of club representatives. Before the voting for the board positions the clubs were asked to vote on constitutional amendments which they were provided 21 days in advance (as per the constitution). Notice of the proposed changes also included reasoning for each change and my contact details in case clubs had any questions or concerns. Before the amendments were even heard at the AGM the clubs voted to not hear any of the amendments as they believed that they had not had enough time to comprehend and understand all the changes. Disappointingly, this was despite the fact that in the 21 days leading up to the AGM not a single club contacted me to take up my offer to discuss any of the proposed amendments and I challenge any reasonably person to tell me which of the proposed clauses in any way diluted the power of the clubs, which was another of the excuses given. Surely 21 days is sufficient notice?

Personally, I was nominated by Woodside/Gippsland as a candidate for the board. I deliberately chose a new and emerging club with no committee structure to avoid the politics that goes with it. I can also say that in the lead up to the board meeting I did not ask a single club to vote for me, and in fact the Woodside/Gippsland representative did not even turn up to vote. I only wish in my final speech before the election that I indicated that I fully supported the current President, but it seems this would have fallen on deaf ears as minds had been made up well before the meeting.

Last Night’s Board Meeting
At last night’s board meeting I was disappointed that only 5 members chose to provide written responses to 7 questions posed to them the previous Thursday regarding the election process. This reflects a complete disregard for the transparency and integrity that corporate governance requires. While 3 members of the current board admitted that they met a week before the AGM with 4 other club delegates who control more than half the club votes, they would not confirm whether their club’s committees were aware of this meeting or whether their club knew that they intended not to vote for Andrew McManus.

One of the board members who attended this meeting wrote in his board nomination that:

‘I will not be a party to any faction groups and will only vote for the good of clubs and the sport.’

After the board meeting long standing board member Brian Marantelli resigned due to his disgust with the contempt shown by board members when questioned about their involvement, and believing that he would struggle to work with people who refused a written request to be open and honest.

I too have come to the conclusion that I cannot work with board members who refuse to conduct themselves according to corporate governance minimums. Openness, integrity and procedural fairness are non-negotiables for any committee. It is not possible for me to work with board members who, by their actions, do not share that view. This is not a reflection on new board members Mathew Boyes and Stephen Cato as they showed professionalism at last night’s meeting despite being stuck in the middle.

What can you do?
There are 3 options that I see.
1. The first is asking your club to request a Special General Meeting to discuss this, but I have no faith that the clubs will vote in favour of a review due to the current controller’s of those votes.

2. Another option is to advise the CEO that a ‘disciplinary matter’ needs to be investigated which anyone can do. While I am more than happy to initiate this it would likely take up considerable time, resources and finances of the VAL if investigated properly. Therefore I don’t think that is appropriate for me as an individual to initiate this as I firmly believe all athletes, clubs, coaches and officials should have a say on how this sport is run – rather than just taking my word for it that there are problems at board level.

3. Finally, athletes and trainers should contact their board rep Emma Poynton (email: ) at the VRTA so your views can be heard and expressed clearly to the board. At the same time questions need to be asked of the VRTA which was set up 30 years ago to be the independent voice of athletes and trainers separate to the clubs, yet now has a committee with members who hold the dual role as a club delegate for meets that they organize.

What am I going to do?
This letter is to advise the board, clubs, athletes and the VAL community that I too am resigning from my position as a VAL board member. I do this with a heavy heart, but I have spent the last week considering all options, speaking to confidants and hoping that last night’s board meeting would resolve some of these issues.

These issues were not resolved and a band-aid solution will not work.

I would like to thank Andrew McManus, Paul Connolly, Brian Marantelli, Emma Poynton and the CEO Mark Howard for supporting me during my short time on the board. I hope I made a small difference to the sport in my time there. I would also like to thank the handicapper Mark O’Brien and his panel for showing the utmost integrity.

I am happy to be contacted about this matter and I would in fact encourage all athletes, trainers and other interested parties to get an informed view of how your sport is being run.

I am sorry if I have let people down by my decision.

Yours sincerely

Cameron Yorke
Ph: 0423020683 or Email:

Last edited by Admin on Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:19 am; edited 2 times in total


Well said by Cam Yorke.

What some of "the pack" don't realise and clearly lack the capacity to understand is that people like Andrew McManus, Brian Marantelli & Cameron Yorke don't need the VAL and all the petty grievances that come with dealing with people lacking the moral fibre to appreciate the damage they've caused.

Their motivation was for the greater good - because they simply wanted to help. They are successful, driven, highly intelligent men of integrity that have a lot to offer the VAL.

McManus has massive credibility and appeal universally in the sport of athletics. None of those who opposed him have a skerrick of the esteem Andrew is held in, outside of their own circle of influence.

Fundamentally - the VAL needs these guys (Andrew, Cam & Brian) more than they need the VAL.

With the likes of the pack - unfortunately they need the VAL more than the VAL needs them. They appear to have this warped view that undertaking a coup is some sort of badge of honour. Well good on them - you've brought the caper to its knees. Hope you're satisfied.

It is very unusual for two individuals from the same squad to want to enter the VAL political game without some influence from the more experienced member of the squad. As I read in another thread, if Boyes or Cato were part of another stable, it's highly unlikely they would have been interested in putting their hands up for the Board. The fact is if Cato and Boyes did not nominate for the Board, Andrew McManus would still be on the board and most likey have remained as president. So whether they like it or not, Matt Boyes and Steve Cato will be tarnished as Gnome puppets. Given their exposure to the meeting on Monday night, if they are the men of integrity they appear to be (according to their statements & CV's), they need to distance themselves from the Gnome and start asking the hard questions of why this is all unravelling before them.

"Let's Go While We're Young"


This is an absolute mess and a major worry for the viability of the VAL. The concern is that the fallout probably still hasnt finished.

Unless this is resolved quickly this will adversly affect registrations, sponsors and clubs.

Unfortunately it seems that the self interest and ego of a few short sighted individuals has had a major impact on the VAL. Maybe they need to stand down in order to allow sanity to be restored.

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