National Memory Sports Councils

The role of National Memory Sports Councils

The underlying purpose of the World Memory Sports Council is to promote the benefits of becoming a Mental Athlete and of learning a range of brain enhancing techniques to help individuals of all ages to become better in everything they do in life.

It does this by encouraging the formation of memory clubs, holding memory sports competitions and recognising individuals who provide brain training.  In a world that educates people by telling them what to learn without giving them the techniques to learn it, never has the need to promote memory techniques been greater.

With Mental Athletes from sixty two countries competing in the Mind Sport of Memory, there is a need in each of these countries to have local and national organisations to promote and foster the growth of the sport, and achieve the vision of the founders. At the heart of this are our growing network of National Memory Sports Councils (NMSC).

The biggest responsibility of a NMSC is to be an ambassador for the Mind Sport of Memory and the great benefits it provides to people of all ages and in all walks of life, from the youngest to the oldest.

The opportunity is enormous and requires working with government departments, educationists, and the world of commerce to get the message across and to help them to see the value of supporting our work.

So a National Memory Sports Council is not a memory club itself – but it would encourage others to form them. It has to demonstrate neutrality and be open to all without any prejudice or commercial bias.  Its success can only be achieved by being totally impartial,  following the Olympic ideal.

Any individual wanting to play such a leading role in pioneering the Mind Sport of Memory must have the respect of their community and be prepared to be the public face of the sport in their country. It is no small responsibility and requires a range of qualities, values and skills that will enable them to mix comfortably in all circle of society

As far as the sport is concerned in their country, they are the ultimate arbiter to settle disputes and to fiercely protect the image, values and ethics of the sport.

A Memory Sports Councils are given a licence to exclusively represent the World Memory Sports Council in their country for an initial period of five years.  During this time, the Council will expect to be working closely with them through every stage of building your new organisation. That means staying regularly in touch!  We can only help and guide you if you give us the opportunity to do so. Whilst the task you have taken on may appear to be a bit daunting, don’t forget you are not alone. Take full advantage of the knowledge base of the WMSC and never hesitate to call or email when you need advice. All the officers of the Council are there to help.

Of course, no two countries or cultures are the same and there are bound to be unique elements to each new national body. The Council is sensitive to this and is flexible in ensuring that the most appropriate solutions are arrived at. A number of the memory disciplines have evolved to make them accessible to all cultures and languages. The key to international competition is that every country competes with the same disciplines in the same format. This makes it possible to have the World Rankings. The results of memory competitions that are in any way non standard cannot be included in the world rankings which would be to the disadvantage of the competitors involved.

As sports go, the Mind Sport of Memory is relatively new with the first World Memory Championships taking place in 1991. However, much has been learned since then and the framework that has evolved for the sport has been based on the experience and feedback of the world’s top competitors. Resist the temptation to try and reinvent the wheel. There is usually a good reason for most things which will become apparent before too long. In the early stages of the project concentrate on getting the right people and resources in place rather than trying to look for ways of changing things!

The Big Picture

So what are you trying to achieve? The objective is to set up an national governing body to administer, encourage and promote the Mind Sport of Memory. It is not a memory club itself, but will encourage others to form them. The function of the new organisation is to fulfil the same role as other national sporting bodies, which might well provide inspiration for the sort of organisation you are aiming to become. So think national to start with, rather than local. You need to create profile and be visible to government, businesses and education. You need to be knowledgeable, professional and respected in these circles. This means having an appropriate address and linking with prominent people who themselves are respected in these circles.

The Mind Sport of Memory, should be seen in the context of the five learning Mind Sports which also include Creativity, Mind Mapping, Speed Reading, and IQ.  Collectively help individuals or all ages and in all walks of life to better realise their potential.  As Tony Buzan says “The brain is like a muscle. Exercise it and it will be become mentally more capable in the same way as exercising your body at the gym helps you become physically more capable.”  This is worth remembering when you get asked the question (again!)  “What is the point of remembering hundreds of binary numbers?”

The other important point to remember is that, if your organisation is to grow and flourish, and if the sport is to really capture the public imagination, then you have to be businesslike and profitable. Yes, memory is an amateur sport, and we should never lose sight of that, but if it is to progress from a minority interest to become the new Chess, then it will take resources.  You may need to prime the pump to get it started,  but you should be looking towards generating commercial sponsorship and creating a variety of income streams if you are to become self sufficient.

The Council will want to be satisfied at the end of your first year, that you have the basis of a sound commercial enterprise that has the potential to underpin the growth of the sport in your country.

Step one

As the first Convenor of your National Memory Sports Council you need to look for a team to support you. You will not be able to do it all on your own. You are looking for two types of people.  Firstly, a small number of individuals who would be prepared to help with admin, marketing communications and media, and seeking out commercial partners and sponsors. You may be able to source these people initially from within your existing organisation, or from people you know. Initially you may only be looking for a commitment of a couple of hours here and there, but as the organisation begins to grow the commitment may well be more. You may be able to find volunteers who share your passion for the project, if not this will need to be resourced and costed into your set up budget.

Secondly, you will need to seek out some high profile individuals in education or commerce who would be prepared to add their names and support to the venture.

You will be looking for individuals to serve as honorary Council Members so look for people who will look good on a letterhead and can open doors for you!

Step Two

You need an appropriate address that would se suitable for a national sports body. A good address can make a big difference in the early stages. It is possible that you might find an organisation – like a university or big business, which would be prepared to sponsor a room for you, or allow you to use their address, and even a meeting room. Choose your partners with care!  As an independent sports body, you need to be seen as being free from undue commercial influence, whilst still offering opportunities for commercial sponsorship. It can be a difficult line to walk sometimes.

Step Three

If you are to trade, you need to be a legal entity and have a bank account. What form of entity is up to you. You may choose to register as a company, partnership, or as a charity. Laws vary in each country as do the advantages or otherwise of each need to be considered. Which ever one you choose, you should use that business exclusively for transactions related to the management of the national sports council. All other business ventures must be kept separate.

It is a condition of issuing a licence that the world governing body has the right to inspect the books of each national memory sports council for the purposes of auditing and for the gathering of statistics.

Step Four

The best way to kick start interest in memory is to hold a memory competition.  This should be an Open Event, which as its name suggests, is open to competitors from other countries. You might want to specifically invite some top ranked competitors to participate and to participate in media activity. As this is an amateur sport, with all competitors paying their own way, you might well need to offer an incentive to some top competitors which would include flights and accommodation to guarantee their involvement.

Every sport also has groups of family and friends who are not competitors, but have an interest in the sport or the achievements of a particular competitor. From their ranks you might want to seek out potential Arbiters to help supervise and mark competitions. All Arbiters require to be trained and licensed. This is normally done by the Chief Arbiter, Phil Chambers or by another level two arbiter designated by him. Again, for the results of a competition to included in the world rankings, an official arbiter has to be present to oversee the event. The presence of a level two arbiter is also a great opportunity to train level one arbiters.  It is important therefore to select a date for the first competition that enables the Chief Arbiter or a designated deputy to be present.

It is customary for the lead arbiter at an event to receive a fee and also travel and accommodation costs.

Because of the high level of media attention which the first competition will generate, it should be easy to interest a commercial sponsor to be associated with it. There is no reason why their corporate name could not be incorporated into the title of the event. You would want a sponsor(s) to cover the costs of staging and running the event, and also to provide prizes, trophies and medals. Good cash prizes remain the best attraction for competitors.

So, set a date of at least six months ahead, to allow sufficient time not just to prepare, but to promote the event to other competitors around the world. The world of memory is comparatively easy to reach and the WMSC will ensure that all potential competitors get to hear about it.

If you want to get maximum publicity for your first memory competition, you should make sure that there is a good local angle for the media. By finding a group of people with no previous memory training and using the six months prior to the event to train them to competition standard makes a great story – especially if a reporter joins in with them and reports their story. People are what makes the news rather than events so look for people with good human interest stories to become ambassadors for the sport.

Chris Day

General Secretary – World Memory Sports Council