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Chairman’s report to the 24th Annual General Meeting

Wednesday 26 November 2003, 12.38pm

The 24th Annual General Meeting of the National Stoolball Association (NSA) took place on Monday 24 November 2003.

1. A Brilliant Summer

Last season was probably one of the best we have had for stoolball since the wonderful summer of 1976. With plenty of sunshine and very little rain, we saw some pretty scorched playing areas where the ball raced from the bat to the boundary.

Ironically, we also had some very bumpy grounds, particularly where the previous very wet winter had persuaded football clubs to invest in land drainage. These drains had “sunk” as the grounds dried out leaving some dangerous mini-ditches on some outfields.

2. Stoolball’s bid for “recognition”

By now, I had hoped to give you some positive news about our bid to Sport England for recognition of the game of stoolball.

Our very thorough application was submitted at the end of February and we expected news by the end of June/July.

Sadly, with the departure of Trevor Brooking and the arrival of Mr Draper from the Lawn Tennis Association as Chairman, matters at Sport England have gone from bad to worse.

A moratorium has been put on all major decisions until at least April 2004, and unfortunately that includes our bid for “recognition of the NSA as the sport’s Governing Body”.

The prospect for clubs and villages of achieving successful bids for Lottery money is not good either. With the public spending less money on the Lottery and with England’s bid being mounted for the 2012 Olympics, it is widely assumed that all available money will be pointed in that direction.

Consequently, we must remain patient but positive about the future.

3. Civil Liability Insurance

Your committee has been very concerned at the increasing number of Civil Liability cases where people have progressed claims in sporting situations which have ended up with clubs, county bodies and Governing Bodies being forced to pay out very large sums of money, often where such money is not available. There have been some notable cases in swimming, white-water canoeing, boxing and rugby union.

To protect our interests, the NSA is in negotiation with the leading brokers in this field with a view to taking out appropriate cover.

4. Publicity via the NSA website

Last year, I appealed to all clubs to make full use of the NSA website to publicise their details. There has been some response, but there is still a long way to go before we have information on all our 200-odd clubs on the web.

When are you going to do something to let interested parties know that you exist?

5. Local Agents to distribute NSA equipment

I am delighted to be able to report that we now have three local “agents” who agreed to carry a stock of NSA equipment to meet the needs of clubs in their area.

They are Shirley Reed, covering Hampshire and North West Sussex, John and Barbara Fitzpatrick, covering Mid and North Sussex and Sue Verrall, our latest volunteer (to whom we are most grateful) covering East Sussex. Full details are in the latest NSA Newsletter and on the website.

We would like to find another volunteer to cover Kent, so if anyone is interested, please get in touch with Kay or myself.

6. Survival

In all sports, the pressure to “survive” is mounting. As costs rise and legislation on volunteers working in sport becomes more demanding, so the fall-out rate is increasing.

There is no easy answer to ensure the well-being of your league or club, but certainly those organisations which encourage youngsters and make them feel wanted and welcome, have a much better chance of survival than those who do not.

It is important to take every opportunity to preach and publicise the gospel of stoolball, in particular through the website and through reporting in your local papers.

On this note, it is with much regret that we have just learned that the Brighton & District Mixed League has decided to fold. However, on the plus side, whilst the league has finished, the clubs are going to continue playing friendly games. Our thanks must go to Dave Brigden who has worked very hard for the good of this league.

7. Stoolball video for teachers and training colleges

Much dedication, initiative and hard work by Shirley Reed, ably assisted by Nikki Woodruff from Bedales School, has finally got us on the way to producing a video on stoolball.

Whilst a lot of the filming has already taken place, there is still work to be done to cover all aspects of the game. Some will be carried out during the winter months and the remainder will be completed early next season.

We are hopeful that this material will help us claw back the initiative that rounders has in schools and enable us to provide a much better supply of youngsters for all clubs playing stoolball. We will let you know when the project has been completed.

8. Coaching Qualifications

We are now starting to make progress in drawing up and implementing a simple but thorough stoolball coaching qualification scheme that will compliment the stoolball video.

Thanks to Melissa Mantle of Angmering Stoolball Club, we now have the framework and we shall be steadily working towards a full-scale launch after some test marketing.

As with all aspects of work being carried out by your committee, we desparately need people to help us move this project forward.

9. Representation at NSA General Meetings

This last 12 months has seen the poorest attendence for some time at our General Committee Meetings.

This may be a direct result of the much better weather we have enjoyed this year, but bearing in mind that our General Meetings are limited to just three per year and these are deliberately held outside the playing season, there really is no excuse.

Quite simply, if your club and league wants to progress and avoid the dangers besetting other leagues and clubs, we must have support and contributions from all affiliated bodies.

If Committee Meetings equate to boredom for you, then maybe our thoughts of having a “convention” type gathering at the start and end of the season may be a better forum for you.

What we have in mind is focussing on one or two specific subjects at these conventions and perhaps this change in format might be more stimulating.

Subjects such as equipment, coaching, fitness, maternity issues and umpiring could be covered, with guest speakers, where appropriate, and time for full debate.

Certainly, we need to move away from the present situation where virtually all meetings are only attended by your elected Officers. This is one-way traffic which can be most demoralising.

10. Your Committee

It is with much sadness that I record my thanks to Mick Cawley, our Sales Officer, who has decided to stand down at the end of this meeting.

Mick has done sterling work in securing lines of supply for all your stoolball equipment and has worked tirelessly and selflessly to execute your orders. We shall miss Mick’s very real contribution to the NSA over very many years. We wish him happiness and peace of mind in his retirement from the NSA committee.

We desparately need younger people to come forward to continue and develop the projects that the NSA is committed to achieving.

Your present Committee has worked very hard on many fronts this last 12 months and I am most grateful to all my colleagues for their endevours.

Our President, Rosemary Hobbs, cannot be with us tonight but as always her interest and dedication to stoolball during the last year have been total and for that I thank her most sincerely.

11. The future

Next year will be the twenty-fifth since the formation of the National Stoolball Association in 1979. We shall hopefully have positive news on our “recognition” application, and our video for schools and training colleges and the coaching qualification scheme should also be in place.

It would be easy to feel smug and contented, but I believe that would be short-sighted and dangerous.

The future of our game is very much in your hands, you can keep your head down, or you can be very brave and actively contribute to the challenges that the NSA is trying to meet and overcome. The choice is yours.

John Price
17 November 2003

Tags: meetings