Starting a team
Who should lead
The IBCPC strongly recommends that the people starting and working with a team have a close association with breast cancer. Ideally, those who have been diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer should be the leads. The IBCPC also recommends that medical personnel who understand the implications of breast cancer treatment should be available for consultation by paddlers. And, most importantly, every potential paddler should have contacted their own physicians before they begin training to paddle.
Form a committee
Your new team will need to have a working group or committee. Try to find enthusiastic people who have some committee experience. Initial activities will include researching local dragon boat clubs, recruiting medical support, a coach and paddlers as well as calculating expenses and planning how to cover those expenses. As a guideline, your working group should comprise the following: Coordinator, Treasurer, Secretary
Contact your regional association
Before starting a new dragon boat team, you need to contact your regional dragon boat association. It will be able to guide you on the rules and guidelines for setting up a dragon boat team and for paddling in your area. If there is no local dragon boat association please contact the IBCPC directly.
There are numerous places and organisations where you can recruit your members. Key contacts include: Local breast cancer support groups; Breast cancer organisations; Hospitals – especially those that treat those diagnosed with breast cancer; and Media – community newspapers, radio, etc. Also consider holding a meeting that is advertised to promote the idea of developing a breast cancer dragon boat team.
Newly formed teams often do not have any equipment (boats, paddles etc) and it can take time to raise the necessary funds to purchase these items. Our recommendation is to initially join a local dragon boat club that can supply you with all the equipment as well as the expertise you may need to get a team started. Right from the outset get members together and start some training/exercise as a team at the local pool, or park or a gym. One of the great benefits of bringing breast cancer survivors together is the camaraderie and support each can provide each other, not to mention the fun! Many a team has started this way. If you want your own boat it can take months, even years to raise the funds or you may decide to continue to use your local clubs and put your efforts towards other awareness activities.
Gain community support
Community support can prove invaluable in the formation and subsequent support of your team. Make contact with potential supporting organisations. Should you be fortunate to find a sponsor make sure you will be able to fulfil your obligations to them. If you are fundraising, ensure you are clear as to what you are raising funds. If you are raising money for equipment be clear this is the intent and that you not raising money for breast cancer.
Value your supporters
Supporters can be invaluable in assisting you to get your team up and running, as well as provide ongoing support. When you are beginning to recruit your team members you may find that you do not have enough breast cancer members so you may consider inviting your supporters to paddle with you. The goal is to eventually have every team member a person diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. Indeed, for the IBCPC Festivals all members of the crews must be breast cancer survivors and this includes the drummer and steersperson.