BSF Executive Meeting Report: 7 February 2019

Mon 11 Feb 2019

The BSF Executive held its latest monthly conference call meeting on the evening of Thursday 7 February.  Below is a journalistic report on the main discussions and decisions.


Attendance

Present:  Jenny Fromer (President), Stella Ackrell (Administrator), Liz Graham (Competitions Officer), Mike Jennings (General Officer), Chris Moon (BASU Representative)

Apologies:  Laura Burkhardt (Treasurer), Jana McCaskill (General Officer), Steve Getraer (General Officer).

Guest:  Bob Fromer (BSUK).


Financial matters

The BSF has received a development grant request to support a new youth fastpitch programme that began in the South East region in October 2018, but will ask the organisers for more information and a cost breakdown before making a decision.


National Championships

Competitions Officer Liz Graham reported that organising work for the 2019 Single-Sex Slowpitch Nationals, to be played in Birmingham on 22-23 June, has already been started by Fiona Kielthy, who has volunteered to organise this tournament and the Co-ed Slowpitch League Nationals this year.

There has been a lot of early interest in the Single-Sex Nationals, which could lead to a record number of entries.  The BSF has decided to fence at least three and hopefully four of the eight fields that will be in use at the tournament.

Liz told the meeting that assignment of places in the Co-ed Slowpitch League Nationals will depend in part on which teams that are eligible for places attend the 2019 BSF AGM in Bushey, Hertfordshire on 23 February.

Meanwhile, negotiations are ongoing between the BSF and Diamond Softball about staging the final round of NSL 1 league games as a standalone event on 27-28 July because Diamond Series 3 on 20-21 July, when these games would normally be played, may clash with the European Slowpitch Championship, currently scheduled for 15-20 July in Budapest, Hungary (but see below).  Diamond Softball has offered to organise and run the standalone NSL 1 event, but the allocation of costs remains to be agreed.


European Slowpitch Championship

The 2019 European Slowpitch Championship, which a record number of 11 countries have entered, was due to be hosted by the Hungarian Softball Federation in Budapest from 15-20 July.  However, at the ESF Congress in Athens on 1-2 February, the Hungarians indicated that they might pull out as hosts, citing a number of issues including the fact that they were not expecting that many entries.

Negotiations between the ESF and the Hungarians are ongoing, and the hope is that Hungary can be persuaded to honour its commitment.  Should they pull out and the tournament be cancelled for lack of a host, it will mean no official competition this year for the GB Slowpitch Team, since there will be no Slowpitch World Cup in 2019.

This is because the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) hopes to begin what will in effect be a Slowpitch World Championship in 2020, played by national teams made up of passport-holders only, and the 2019 European Slowpitch Championship would be a qualifier for that event.

Because of the ramifications for GB Slowpitch if the Hungarians withdraw as hosts, BSF President Jenny Fromer has told the ESF that the BSF will explore the possibility of stepping up as hosts if Hungary withdraws.  In that event, the BSF will have until the end of February to confirm a bid, and there will need to be a quick process of exploring whether the requisite funds and volunteers can be found to making staging the tournament viable.

Another downside of the Hungarians pulling out is that if the tournament is switched to Britain, it is likely that a number of the Eastern European teams that have entered will withdraw on grounds of cost.

A final decision is expected from Hungary by 13 February, and if their decision is negative, the BSF will intensify exploration of its own options, including with members present at the AGM on 23 February.


ESF Congress

Bob Fromer told the BSF Executive that a full report on the ESF Congress is available on the BSF website.


Aspiration Fund grant to GB Women

As reported on the BSF website in December, UK Sport has awarded £62,500 to the GB Women’s Team from a new pot of money called the Aspiration Fund, to help the team in its attempt to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

On 5 February, at the request of the BSF, the BaseballSoftballUK Board voted to accept the grant, since the deadline for doing so was 7 February.

However, this money comes with a long list of terms and conditions that will need to be fulfilled by a combination of BaseballSoftballUK, the BSF Executive, the GB Management Committee and the GB Women’s Team, and the BSUK Board is currently drawing up a Collaboration Agreement to assign roles and responsibilities for doing so. 

Among the conditions that will need to be fulfilled are various governance requirements, anti-doping training for athletes, efforts to create a social impact through the grant and team branding on behalf of the National Lottery, which is providing most of the funding.

BaseballSoftballUK CEO John Boyd will also talk to UK Sport about their own view of the requirements, given that softball is a small sport with few resources and the amount of money awarded was itself relatively small.  UK Sport has already stated that the costs of fulfilling its terms and conditions should not exceed 4% of the grant, and the BSF is determined that as much of money as possible should go to the team to support the push for Olympic qualification.


BSF website redevelopment

A BSF-BSUK committee working on redevelopment and enhancement of the BSF website held meetings in December and January.

BSUK Head of Operations Tim Stride and Simon Gordon from the GLSML, who has volunteered to lead for the BSF on the project, are currently assessing what will be involved in updating the site CMS and what this can means in terms of improvements to appearance and functionality.

However, Jenny Fromer told the Executive that it’s clear that the project will take time and will need to be done gradually.  The website committee will continue to meet on a monthly basis.


BSF AGM

The Executive reviewed plans for the BSF AGM on 23 February.  The schedule for the meeting is:

  • 10.45-11.00:  Registration
  • 11.00-1.00:  Softball League Heads Forum Meeting
  • 1.00-1.45:  Lunch and Registration
  • 1.45-2.45:  Concussion Webinar
  • 2.45-3.00:  Tea and coffee break
  • 3.00-4.00:  AGM + Annual Awards
  • 4.00-4.30:  BaseballSoftballUK Presentation

While the time allocated for the AGM itself in a busy day is relatively short, the Executive hopes that if any issues need debate, these can be threshed out at the League Heads Forum in the morning, saving time at the AGM itself.

At the conclusion of the AGM, the Executive will hold a brief Board meeting to deal with any issues that have arisen during the day.


BaseballSoftballUK Board and Committees

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.

Jenny Fromer reported that the BSUK Board met on 5 February, mainly to consider the implications of accepting the Aspiration Fund grants to GB Softball and GB Baseball (see above).

BaseballSoftballUK has streamlined its committee structure, and on 6 February a new committee covering Development, Commercial and Marketing held its first meeting.  BSUK Committees now consist of BSUK Board members only, but Jenny Fromer raised the question of whether the Committee could be expanded to include representatives from the sports involved with development.  This request will be considered by the Board.


Next meeting

The BSF Executive’s next meeting will follow the BSF AGM on 23 February and its next conference call meeting will be on Thursday 7 March 2019.

Anyone with items to raise at either of these meetings should contact Bob Fromer on: bob.fromer@britishsoftball.org.

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