A Heartfelt Farewell – And Big Thank You – To Roslyn Morris

By John Iaboni
Executive Vice President, Sports Media Canada

During the AIPS Bureau meeting held in Vigevano, Italy on January 11-12, 2014, President Gianni Merlo confirmed that Roslyn Morris “had ceased her duties of Secretary General as per her request that she ends on December 31, 2013 for family reasons.”

Ros Morris

The minutes of that meeting went on to say that Merlo had proposed for “her to handle the Marketing up until the (2014) Congress in Baku considering that the Associations relations have grown over the years and the contracts needed someone with her understanding and experience to handle this important role.”
Roslyn, who lives in Australia, accepted this temporary role. In the meantime, the AIPS Bureau unanimously agreed to have Evelyn Watta serve as Interim Secretary General on a four-month trial basis until the Baku Congress.
Replacing Roslyn will not be easy and I base that on my personal connection with her as well as observing this extremely respected individual in action. One of the greatest moments and cherished memories of my career occurred in 2010 at Vancouver when I had the privilege and honour of assisting the AIPS office.
It was there that I worked closely with Merlo but more so with Roslyn. Gianni and Roslyn made an outstanding match for the AIPS cause. In view of the recent development, I offer this tribute to Roslyn whom I consider a great person, possessing style, grace, experience, knowledge and dedication. Vancouver proved invaluable to me because Roslyn and I clicked from the first time we met. All those long hours we worked there included a lot of chuckles too, as that Olympic odyssey was the best one I’ve ever had from start to finish.
In the years since, both online and at various AIPS Congresses, Roslyn and I have maintained that strong friendship. And that will continue. As my personal “thank you” to Roslyn, I thought her words in a chat with me would best put into perspective this change in her life and what her time with AIPS meant to her.

JI: How did your role and association with Gianni evolve since you first joined AIPS in 2006?
RM: At first I was engaged to manage the website and magazine, and soon became more and more involved in the administration of AIPS on a day-to-day basis. I was appointed Secretary General after the Milan Congress in 2009.
I have immense respect for Gianni, both as a colleague and friend. He knows everything and everyone there is to know within the Olympic Movement – I have never seen anyone with so many contacts on their phone, or so many Facebook friends! He can pick up the phone and speak directly to the athletes and their coaches and agents; he can dial up most members of the IOC and federation presidents and they will answer.
We forged a great working relationship and operated as a team to increase the profile of AIPS at an international level in order to push for the best possible working conditions for our members. AIPS has gained more credibility and respect in the past few years, and therefore, when we go to bat for a member, or an association, or the media as a whole, our case is more likely to be viewed as a serious matter, with satisfactory results for all stakeholders.

John Iaboni, Ros Morris, Gianni Merlo

JI: What are some of the countries you visited in your role as AIPS Secretary General?

RM: Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, Canada, China, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, New Zealand, Qatar, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay. Many multiple visits to China, Qatar, Italy, Switzerland and Korea.

JI: What are you proudest of accomplishing with AIPS?
RM: I am most proud of playing an instrumental role in getting the AIPS Young Reporters Program off the ground and of the impact this program has had on the lives of our young colleagues.
I received this email from the mother of one of our young male reporters – it made me cry:

Dear Roslyn,

I think life gives us gifts, and you have been one of those for my son, always polite, lovely, respectful. I will say it has, been a matter of moral support, a way to tell him to “go ahead.” And I think he has taken your support in a really good way. Today he told us that you will not work more at the AIPS, he was really sad, but I think people can leave from one part, but they will never be lost. You leave a mark in the heart of Alejandro, also in mine and in my husband’s one. We always remember you as someone amazing.

I want to thank you for everything you did; anything of all that he have lived wouldn’t be possible without you.

For last but not least, we are waiting for the moment when you decide to visit us; you will be our special guest.

The best wishes for you in the new year, for your lovely daughters and for all your family.

JI: What are some of the personal highlights you will remember?
RM: Receiving the above email. Attending the Vancouver Winter Olympics and working with you, who remain to this day one of my dearest friends! Establishing many of the partner and commercial relationships that are essential to fund the work of AIPS. The AIPS presence at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where not only did we manage to have Usain Bolt, but his parents, girlfriend, coach and manager as special guests at our reception for the international media! Contracting a serious strain of pneumonia at the FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa and being nursed back to health by the grandparents of our daughter’s South African boyfriend. Johan Vollschenk, the grandfather just happened to be a famous author and sports journalist who formerly wrote about rugby in the Afrikaaner press. Our successful campaign to have free internet as a requisite for media for all future Olympic Games. Above all, meeting so many wonderful AIPS friends from all corners of the globe

JI: Do you have any regrets?
RM: No, not at all.

JI: Why did you decide to leave?
RM: I indicated to Gianni that I wished to step back from my role as Secretary General in order to concentrate on some ongoing health issues, as well as to spend more time with my family. Georgia, our eldest daughter, is a commercial pilot and flight instructor and has just applied to join the Royal Australian Air Force fast jet program. Our younger daughter Megan is an accomplished classical singer attending the University of Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music. My husband David, who is chairman of a bank, will retire soon and we plan to build a new home on the beach at Salamander Bay. I’m looking forward to traveling for pleasure and to catching up with friends and family who have been neglected over the years, and to improving my fly fishing! I also plan to use my skills on a voluntary basis.

JI: What would be your parting words to the national associations throughout the world?
RM: Do not be apathetic! Be involved in AIPS! Use the congress as a forum to discuss the issues facing the sports media and use the congress as an opportunity for professional development – there is a wealth of information to be had, especially prior to a major event. Send your news for the AIPS website and magazine and be active in your national associations.

JI: Anything else you’d like to add?
RM: What I won’t miss: Long hours, very little sleep, and phone calls in the middle of the night. Gianni always says to turn the phone off; but what mother can do that?

JI: Again, thank you, Ros … best wishes to you and your family!
RM: Thank YOU John! And thanks to everyone who has helped and supported me during my time with AIPS.