|Tommy Wiking - President, International Federation of American Football|
|Profile of the week|
Friday, 12 April 2013 15:50
Tommy Wiking is the president of The International Federation of American Football (IFAF).
He has been president since 2006 and previously had management roles at Stayat Hotel apartments and Mgruppen.
He's 43, married with three children, and resides in the city of Gothenburg - in his native country Sweden.
IFAF have recently submitted a application to be an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognised sport. The decision is expected to be made at the SportAccord Convention in May 2013.
By Ismail Uddin
What were your main reasons for joining IFAF and what draws you to the game of American Football?
I’m not sure I was initially drawn to the game of American Football. The first time I watched an American Football game I thought it was the most boring experience I've ever had, so it wasn't love at first sight. It was more of a question that I wanted to understand this strange and boring game and eventually I liked it. I was one of 20 people to start a team at my University and that's why I started with American Football.
When it comes to IFAF, I was in the right place at the right time. IFAF was founded in 1998 and I attended that initial meeting as it was in Sweden and had plans to be President. I've been a hard worker so the organisation thought I was a good person to lead IFAF.
What does your role at IFAF entail?
The main process and work to be done is dealing with the stadium, executive board and different committees. One of the processes we do is carrying out congress' decisions, going to executive board meetings, making sure all the committees are working and that our competitions are in place and our next competition has a host.
My role can differ on a day to day basis whether it is fielding calls from a Panama player in a Men's World Championship or a meeting in Beijing with the Minister for Sports and all in between.
You have been IFAF President since 2006, what have you learnt in that time?
In myself I learnt to be more patient. You need to have the skill to know whether to be more patient where questions and issues need time to be resolved and there are times where you will need to be strong and push through ideas that not everyone is on board with. What I learnt from IFAF was there are a lot more people that want to play American Football than I ever expected. There were only 20 member federations when I first came in and now there are more than 60 and more and more people want to play American Football.
What is your main relationship with the NFL and how do you work to increase participation in many untapped markets through your association?
We have a partnership where we see where our strategy fits in with their strategy. So if you take China for example where we work to try and help with the Chinese corporation and find things that we can do and what the NFL can't do and vice versa. We can't really do the same thing. In China, for instance it is easier for a sports federation to get contacts that will benefit us. But NFL has good contacts on the commercial side that we don't have yet.
NFL in the UK has seen a massive surge in recent years due to the staging of regular season games in the country? What benefit have you seen from this?
There has been an increase in interest in Britain about American Football. You can understand this since they announced their games. This has also seen a greater interest around Europe. We have a situation where we need to educate media and audiences about American Football and anything that can get the information out is good.