BSF Executive Meeting Report: 10 January 2019

Mon 14 Jan 2019

The BSF Executive held its first conference call meeting of 2019 on the evening of Thursday 10 January.  Below is a journalistic report on the main discussions and decisions.


Attendance

Present:  Jenny Fromer (President), Stella Ackrell (Administrator), Laura Burkhardt (Treasurer), Liz Graham (Competitions Director), Mike Jennings (General Officer), Jana McCaskill (General Officer), Chris Moon (BASU Representative).

Apologies:  Steve Getraer (General Officer).

Guest:  Bob Fromer (BSUK).


National Championships

With BSF Competitions Director Liz Graham only running the National Softball League (NSL) and the NSL Nationals in 2019, former BSF Executive member Fiona Kielthy has volunteered to organise the Single-Sex Nationals and League Nationals this year.  Fiona was involved in tournament organisation when she was on the Executive, and the BSF is confident that the quality of the tournaments will be maintained.

Liz Graham told the meeting that interest is particularly high, even at this early stage, in the Single-Sex Nationals, and there are indications that there will be more Women’s Comp teams entering the tournament this year.


National Softball League

It has been confirmed that the 2019 European Slowpitch Championship will be played in Budapest, Hungary from 15-20 July – and this poses a clash with NSL play at the third Diamond Series tournament, scheduled for 20-21 July, since a number of NSL 1 teams will lose key players who will be competing for the GB Slowpitch Team.

To get round this, the BSF will run the final NSL 1 competition weekend as a standalone event at Farnham Park on the following weekend, 27-28 July.  The final weekend of NSL 2 competition will be played, as normal, at Diamond Series 3.

Liz Graham told the meeting that a problem has arisen regarding plans to start NSL 3 league play in 2019. 

With plenty of interest from teams, the BSF had planned to run eight-team NSL 3 leagues in the North and South this year, with leagues games taking place at two tournaments in each region.  In the South, the Bristol and Windsor Tournaments will host NSL 3 South Division play, while plans were for the Sefton and Manchester Tournaments to host NSL 3 play in the North.

However, the Sefton Tournament is unable to do this, and so another Northern tournament will have to be found to host NSL 3 if the plan is to go ahead.  Liz Graham will be exploring the options – including whether the BSF can host one weekend of NSL3 North play as a standalone event.


BSF budget and fees for 2019

The Executive has approved a budget for 2019 which will be presented to the BSF AGM on 23 February for approval.

The budget projects a planned operating deficit of just under £11,000 in 2019, which will still leave reserves in a comfortable position but allow the BSF to expand spending in several new areas, including webstreaming, event coverage on the BSF website and paid administration support.

The budget is based in part on a new and simplified structure for team fees that the BSF will introduce in 2019.  While some categories of teams will pay slightly more under the new structure and others less, the overall effect will be to increase income from fees by around £3,000.

The BSF will announce details of the new fee structure later this month in an article on the BSF website.


National teams

Bob Fromer, who is a member of the GB Management Committee, reported to the Executive that a GB Softball Women’s Tryout and Training Camp was being held in Plant City Florida from 8-12 January, with over 40 athletes and eight GB coaches in attendance.

The athletes taking part were from the GB Women, GB Under-22, GB Under-18 and GB Under-16 programmes, and the camp, one of the largest projects undertaken by GB Softball, had created a unique opportunity for players and coaches from different teams to work together and develop a common ethos.

It will also allow coaches the chance to work with and see non-GB-based players in action rather than needing to rely purely on video and stats when making selection decisions.

Bob told the meeting that a date for the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier was still pending, and was expected to be announced by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) later in January.  The hope is that the Qualifier will follow soon after the European Women’s Championship (30 June-6 July), so that the team can be kept together between the two tournaments, allowing for better preparation and also saving money.


BSF Development Grant

The Executive approved a Development Grant request from the East Midlands Softball League for £365 to support the first year of an ambitious and well thought-out three-year plan to attract new players, form new teams and raise the level of coaching within the league.  The league will be matching the BSF grant on a 1:1 basis.

While BSF development grants are normally capped at £250, there is scope to exceed that figure where the Executive deems it worthwhile to do so, and that was the judgement in this case.

BSF support in Years 2 and 3 of the project will be contingent on how it progresses in Year 1.


Support for attendance at Coach Summit

The BSF will purchase a minimum of three tickets to the 2019 BSUK Coach Summit, scheduled for Saturday 26 January in Milton Keynes, to support softball coaches who might struggle with the costs of attending the event (tickets are priced at £80).

The softball keynote speaker at the event will be former US Division 1 college player and Head Coach Ali Higgs, and the Summit will consist of a series of discussions, workshops and seminars for fastpitch softball and baseball coaches, with content of interest for slowpitch coaches as well.

The general theme of this year's Summit will be “Preparing for the Future of Baseball and Softball in the UK”.

The BSF will work with BaseballSoftballUK to determine who will be offered the tickets purchased by the Federation.


BSF website

A BSF subcommittee met in December, along with BSUK Head of Operations Tim Stride and a volunteer consultant, Simon Gordon from the Greater London Softball Mixed League, to discuss revisions and upgrades to the BSF website.

Next steps will include feedback from user surveys and focus groups while technical options are explored.

BSF President Jenny Fromer told the meeting that updating the website will be a complex process and it will be hard to make significant changes quickly, but that it should be possible to have some improvements to the design and look of the website by the start of the 2019 season.


BSF AGM

Work is proceeding on the BSF AGM Pack that will be circulated to member teams around the beginning of February.

The BSF is also compiling an agenda for the League Heads Forum meeting that will be held in the morning on AGM Day, Saturday 23 February, before the formal AGM in the afternoon.

The AGM will be held at the Metropolitan Police Bushey Sports Club, Aldenham Road, Bushey, Herts WD23 2TR and the League Heads Forum will begin at 11.00 am, with the AGM to follow after a lunch break.


Volunteers

The BSF issued a call late last year for volunteers to support the Executive by taking on or helping with specific roles or tasks, and there has been an encouraging response.

The result is that six or seven volunteers have been or will soon be appointed to work in areas such as Nationals and Softball World Series organisation, development liaison with BSUK, website revision, coaching provision and social media support.

People in these volunteer positions will be welcome to attend BSF Executive meetings, but will only be required to do so on an occasional basis to report on what they’re doing.


BASU

The BSF Executive has put forward a number of items for BASU to consider at its AGM on 9 February, and one of them is a suggestion that all BASU umpires should be DBS-checked as part of the BSF’s safeguarding programme.

This will not involve any cost, but will require some organisation, which the BSF and BSUK can support.


BSUK Board and Committee meetings

A standing item at BSF conference call meetings is reports from meetings of the BaseballSoftballUK Board or Committees attended by members of the BSF Executive.

Because of the Christmas holidays, there have been no BSUK Committee meetings since the BSF Executive last met.

There is currently a vacancy for a BSF representative on the BSUK Board, and the Executive will be canvassing possible candidates.


Next meeting

The BSF Executive’s next conference call meeting will be on Thursday 7 February.

Anyone with items to raise at the meeting should contact BSF Administrator Stella Ackrell.  

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