BSF Executive Meeting Report: 17 August 2017

Mon 21 Aug 2017

The BSF Executive held its latest monthly conference call meeting on the evening of Thursday 17 August.  Below is a journalistic account of discussions and decisions.


Attendance​

Present:  Jenny Fromer (President), Laura Burkhardt (Treasurer), Liz Graham (Competitions Director), Steve Getraer (General Officer), Chris Moon (BASU Representative).

Apologies:  Stella Ackrell (Administrator), Jana McCaskill (National Teams Officer), Mike Jennings (General Officer).

Guest:  Bob Fromer (BSUK).


Development grant requests​

Two requests for BSF Development Grants were considered by the Executive.

A grant of £250 for the purchase of gloves was approved to allow the expansion of the softball club at Reading University.  The club expects to double its current numbers once the new term begins, and has already reached the point where the few gloves it has are being shared.

A request for £250 to purchase nets, batting tees and similar equipment to provide more effective training sessions to raise the level of softball and baseball play in Bristol has been referred back for more information before a final decision is made.


Financial matters

BSF Treasurer Laura Burkhardt will investigate whether it could be worthwhile for the BSF to open a separate deposit or savings account in order to earn interest on money it holds as reserves.

Laura will also circulate a budget v actual report for 2016-17 to the Executive before the next conference call meeting in September, as the BSF’s financial year will close on 30 September.


League National Championships

BSF Competitions Director Liz Graham reported on the Co-ed Slowpitch League National Championships, which were played on the weekend of 12-13 August at Farnham Park.

The BSF had issued 42 invitations to teams based on league positions in 2016.  Of these, 22 teams expressed an interest in playing, but only four of those were Platinum-grade teams, whereas six teams are needed to make up a competition grade.  So the League Nationals were played with 18 teams that competed on the Sunday for Gold, Silver and Bronze trophies.  Next year, Liz intends to make particular efforts to develop a Platinum Division. 

Although play generally went well on a sunny weekend, and the players appreciated having two umpires for most games (the cost of this is to be split between the BSF and BASU), Liz did raise some issues for the Executive to consider in more detail at its annual face-to-face meeting in October.

One issue was the fact that some players who were camping for the weekend left their sites a mess.  The BSF will need to decide whether it makes sense to offer camping at events it runs, and under what circumstances and conditions.

Another issue was an exorbitant number of requests for player dispensations for the League Nationals.  The BSF may need to tighten up its policy on dispensations and make sure that the policy is known and understood, so that decisions can simply be made based on the policy rather than requiring, as now, a lot of background research to determine validity.

But the problem of dispensations may not necessarily have an easy solution.  “If we had pursued a hard line on this,” Liz told the Executive, “a lot of the teams that contested the League Nationals wouldn’t have played.”


NSL National Championships

Liz Graham also reported on plans for the NSL Nationals, which will be played on the weekend of 2-3 September at Farnham Park, with the top eight teams from the 12-team NSL 1 and NSL 2 league standings playing for medals.

One issue, on which decisions may be made at the time, is which fields to use for finals late in the day on Sunday to avoid batters or fielders facing problems with the sun.

The BSF hopes that scoreboards can be used on all four fields at the NSL Nationals, and will try to find people to run them, perhaps from one of the GB youth fastpitch teams.

Liz also told the meeting that all the trophies at the NSL Nationals and future National Championships will be presented at the end of the tournament; teams that play an earlier final will not be allowed to take their trophies and run!


National Softball League

Liz Graham reported to the Executive that NSL 2, introduced in full this season, has been hugely successful, with a growing list of teams wanting to join.

For now, the BSF wants to maintain the number of teams in each NSL section at 12, so there is an increasing likelihood that an NSL 3 competition will be introduced next season, at least on a trial basis.  An announcement about this should follow the BSF’s face-to-face meeting in October.

Another issue to be considered in October will be promotion and relegation between NSL 1 and NSL 2.  In a poll of teams, NSL 1 teams have voted, perhaps not surprisingly, to maintain a policy of one-up, one-down, but a significant number of NSL 2 teams favour two-up, two-down.


Upcoming dates

The Executive has set dates for some upcoming events:

  • The BSF’s annual League Heads Forum will be held on Saturday 11 November in Birmingham.
     
  • The 2018 BSF AGM will be held on Saturday 24 February 2018 in Manchester, with the BASU AGM scheduled for two weeks earlier, on Saturday 10 February in Slough.
     

A date for the BSF Executive’s face-to-face meeting in October will be determined shortly.


Development priorities

The BSF Executive has been asked by the BSUK Board to set out its development priorities for the next two years, through the end of BSUK’s current funding cycle from Sport England.

BSF President Jenny Fromer has invited members of the Executive to submit ideas, to be taken to the next meeting of BSUK’s Development Committee.


Governance Code

BSUK has a deadline of this October to comply with the Code of Governance for sports issued last year by the government, or risk having its funding withdrawn by Sport England.

Two key decisions need to be made by BSUK and the British Softball and Baseball Federations as part of this compliance.

One is a decision about how many Board members BSUK will have, given that the Code requires that Federation representatives cannot make up more than one-third of the Board (at the moment they make up 50%).  This is to ensure that BSUK, as a body receiving public funding, is able to make its own independent decisions – though of course Federation representatives would be part of the decision-making process.

If the BSUK Board remains at 12 members, as at present, then each Federation can have two representatives.  If the size of the Board is reduced to eight, then there could only be one representative from each Federation.

The BSF Executive would prefer to maintain a Board of 12 with two Federation representatives to reduce the risk that some meetings might have no one in attendance from an individual Federation.

Another decision is whether the BSUK CEO should be a member of the BSUK Board.  Some sports have their Chief Executive as a Board member, but others don’t.  The BSF Executive is in favour of the BSUK CEO being a member of the Board.

 

BSUK Board reports

Each BSF Executive conference call meeting hears reports from recent BSUK Board and Committee meetings, which are attended by BSF Executive members.

Finance Committee.  BSF Treasurer Laura Burkhardt reported that the most recent meeting of the Finance Committee had focused on closing off end-of-year accounts.

Farnham Park Committee.  BSF General Officer Steve Getraer reported that the Farnham Park Committee had last met on 24 July, and discussed staffing changes on site, the need for off-season improvements to the fields, issues with the new moveable outfield fence purchased by BSUK, improvements to be made by South Bucks District Council to the toilets and showers in the cricket clubhouse and issues that could arise if the success of the Home Plate catering operation forces it to become VAT-registered.

Governance Committee.  The most recent meeting of the Governance Committee, on 17 July, was primarily taken up with discussion about implementing the Governance Code.


Next meeting

The next BSF Executive conference call meeting will be held on Thursday 14 September.

Anyone with issues to bring to the Executive at this meeting should contact BSF Administrator Stella Ackrell (stella.ackrell@britishsoftball.org).

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