BSF Executive Meeting Report: 8 December 2016

Thu 15 Dec 2016

The BSF Executive held its monthly conference call meeting on the evening of Monday 12 December.  Below is a journalistic report on the main discussions and decisions.


Attendance

Present:  Stella Ackrell (President), Jana McCaskill (National Teams Officer), Liz Graham (Tournaments Officer), Mike Jennings (General Officer), Chris Moon (BASU Representative).

Apologies:  Lesley Morisetti (Administrator), Steve Getraer (General Officer).

Guest:  Bob Fromer (BSUK).


Financial matters​

BSF accounts.  The BSF accounts for the 2015-16 financial year have gone to the Auditor and should be back next month.  The BSF budgeted for a £9400 overspend in 2015-16.  The initial draft accounts show a surplus of £6350, bringing net assets up to just over £60,000.  This will give the BSF more spending flexibility in 2016-17, which promises in particular to demand increased resourcing of BSF national teams playing in ESF or WBSC tournaments overseas.


SLA adjustment.  The annual Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the BSF and BSUK is an agreement whereby the BSF pays BSUK each year for a certain number of hours of non-development services (such as website content and maintenance).  Some hours are provided free by BSUK and others are discounted, but over the past couple of years the BSF has paid around £4000 and there has been a good fit between the number of hours estimated and used.

In 2016-17, however, the BSF will buy additional hours for a major project not foreseen when the year’s agreement was negotiated – the preparation of a major submission to UK Sport requesting funding for the GB Softball programme for Olympic qualification, which BSUK has researched and written on the BSF’s behalf, and is sharing some of the costs.


Ball deal.  The BSF has just concluded the second year of a three-year deal to purchase softballs at a favourable rate, a deal in which the BBF and BSUK also take part.  However, the balls purchased by all three organisations are imported, and because of the steep fall in the value of the pound following the Brexit referendum, prices will have to rise during the third year and final year of the arrangement.

Last year, the BSF was able to purchase balls for a price of £43.50 per dozen, and it looked like that might rise to as much as £55 per dozen in 2017.  However, following negotiations carried out by BSUK Joint CEO John Boyd, the price has been set at £50 per dozen, with a guarantee that this will not change over the course of the year.  Some 300 dozen 12” balls have already been supplied through this deal.


National teams​

Record entries.  The BSF may have a record number of eight national teams in nine official competitions in 2017, as shown below.

The following national teams will definitely play in European or World Championships in 2017:

  • GB Men in the WBSC Men’s World Championship.
  • GB Women in the European Women’s Championship.
  • GB Under-19 Women in the WBSC Junior World Championship.
  • GB Under-19 Men in the European Junior Men’s Championship.
  • GB Under-16 Girls in the European Cadette Championship
  • GB Slowpitch Team in the European Slowpitch Championship.
  • GB Slowpitch Team in the WBSC Slowpitch World Cup.
     

These teams may also play in European competitions:

  • GB Under-13 Girls in the Massimo Romeo Youth Trophy.
  • GB Under-16 Boys in the European Cadet Championship.
     

Although the GB Under-13 Girls will definitely play overseas next summer, Head Coach Beth Perkins and Team Manager Julie Spittle are looking for options other than the ESF’s annual Massimo Romeo Youth Trophy, because of problems at last year’s competition when boys were allowed to take part for the first time.

The ESF will be holding its first Under-16 Boys’ Championship in 2017, and the GB Management Committee has been considering a proposal from Lee Grafton to form a GB Under-16 Boys’ Team and programme.  Should this programme get under way, then a GB team is likely to enter the competition.


Player Licence Applications.  Meanwhile, Mike Jennings, who is the ESF’s Technical Director, told the meeting that the ESF has revised its regulations regarding applications for player licences, which is when teams send a long roster to the ESF in advance of the tournament.  A final tournament roster can only make up from players included on the Licence Application Form.

Previously, the long roster was due 45 days before the start of the competition, but this has now been reduced to 21 days.  The lists will be published 15 days before the start of competition on the ESF website, and teams will then have seven days to lodge a protest against any names on an opponent’s long roster.

Finally, Bob Fromer reported briefly to the Executive on an all-day meeting held on 4 December involving GB Team coaches and managers and members of the GB Management Committee.  Three policies are currently being developed by the GBMC – on GB Team Composition, on Selection and Appeals and on when teams can use “GB” in their name and branding.  The BSF Executive has already seen and approved the first of these, but will need to review the other two.


Slowpitch World Cup.  Mike Jennings told the meeting that the Slowpitch World Cup tournament held in Plant City, Florida in November, where the GB Slowpitch Team lost to the Bahamas in the final, went well despite the disappointing absence of an American team in the competition. 

This should not be the case next year, as Steve Shortland from the American Amateur Softball Association (ASA), who attended part of the tournament as an observer, has pledged that the ASA will ensure at least one US team will take part in 2017.

The 2017 competition will require formal approval from the WBSC Softball Board in March, but will almost certainly be held again in the third week of November, and there is hope for an increased number of entries.

As the competition is a World Cup and not a World Championship, it is open to both national and club teams and there are no nationality restrictions, so British teams other than the GB Slowpitch Team are eligible to enter.  In that event, however, the BSF has decided that the GB Slowpitch Team will have priority with regard to player selection.


Safeguarding

Jenny Fromer, BSUK’s Joint CEO and Lead Safeguarding Officer, sent the following message to the BSF Executive before the meeting:

“Following the breaking news in November of historical sexual abuse in football, a couple of Board Directors have reasonably asked for clarity on BSUK's position regarding safeguarding.  Given this, I thought it might be helpful if I provide a brief update.

“BSUK works closely with the Child Protection and Sport Unit (CPSU) and has achieved CPSU's National Advanced Safeguarding Standards.  As such we are now assessed annually against our Strategic Action Plan for Safeguarding.  We were last reviewed in May 2016 and were rated as 'green' with regard to our progress.  While this is obviously positive, we are not complacent about this, and recognise that having a robust approach to safeguarding does not remove all risk and we are continuously focused on how we can strengthen this area.

“In 2016 we have taken a number of proactive steps as follows:

  • Created a new dedicated section of our website with updated policies and procedures (this will shortly be live).
     
  • Carried out a Young Persons Survey to better understand what support would benefit our young players.
     
  • Provided a regular safeguarding newsletter to all club safeguarding officers.
     
  • Upskilled Mark Caress to be able to deliver the club-level Time to Listen (TTL) safeguarding course (he has delivered two to date).
     
  • Carried out DBS checks for relevant volunteers and encouraged take-up of the automatic renewal service.
     
  • Continued to offer the Educare on-line training at a subsidised rate.
     
  • Focused on ensuring that relevant baseball and softball teams/clubs/leagues have trained Safeguarding Officers (SOs) in place.
     

“It is worth noting that the final point above is the area we have identified that most needs to be improved going forward.  While most clubs with young players have a named SO in place, often the SO is not known to club members as having that role and has not undergone any level of training.  This is clearly an area that we need to work on with the Federations to close the gaps and Mark Caress and I will be bringing a proposal to the Governance Committee in January 2017 for how we can start to address this.

“Following the news in November, BSUK, along with most other sports, was contacted by a number of media providers who asked for direct information about our sports.  In our case we were contacted by Sky News and Radio 5 Live.  Following discussions with the CPSU and the Sport & Recreation Alliance (S+RA) we chose to respond openly to all questions raised, and as such there has been no follow-up with BSUK directly.  We were fortunately in a position to be able to confirm that we have not had any allegations of sexual abuse in our sports to date and to be able to signpost the policies and procedures we have in place.”


Insurance

Mike Jennings told the meeting that there is good news and bad news regarding the BSF’s Civil and Public Liability insurance in 2017.

The bad news is that the insurance will cost slightly more next year – but the BSF will absorb the cost and does not intend to raise team affiliation fees in 2017.

The good news is that the insurers have now agreed that teams formed for purposes of entering a one-off competition, such as the Single-Sex Slowpitch Nationals or the Softball World Series, will not now have to pay separate insurance as a team – provided that all players on their roster are already members of BSF-affiliated teams.  This means that the BSF will no longer need to charge such teams an additional £25 on top of the tournament entry fee, and it also means that the BSF will save some money on total insurance costs.

Teams that will still need to pay this fee – in effect a one-off affiliation fee that includes insurance cover – may include GB-based US military teams or any other team with players who are not members of another BSF-affiliated team.

Mike also told the meeting that while the BSF’s current insurance certificate ran out on 10 December, the new certificate is expected shortly and all member teams are still insured in the meantime.


National Softball League

As recently announced on the BSF website (http://www.britishsoftball.org/news/view/bsf-announces-details-for-2017-nsl-nationals), teams and dates are now set for National Softball League competition in 2017.

Twelve teams are lined up to play in NSL 1 and there were 11 teams set for NSL 2 after one team had withdrawn.  Four teams then applied for the vacant 12th place in NSL 2, and BSF has now awarded the place to the London independent B-grade team Naturals, who have played successfully in B-grade tournaments for several years.

One or more teams will be relegated from NSL 2 at the end of the season, and teams chosen to take those places are likely to come from the teams that applied unsuccessfully on this occasion to fill the 12th NSL place.


BSF AGM

As announced on the BSF website (http://www.britishsoftball.org/news/view/date-and-venue-announced-for-2017-bsf-agm), the 2017 BSF AGM will be held on Saturday 25 February 2017 at the Metropolitan Police Bushey Sports Club, Aldenham Road, Bushey, Herts WD23 2TR.

Details on AGM timings and programme will be released shortly and a full AGM Pack will be circulated to teams and posted on the BSF website to download at the beginning of February.

The BSF is now looking for motions and nominations from the softball community for the AGM – including nominations both for positions on the BSF Executive and awards for the 2016 season.


Motions.  Any motions to be brought to the AGM should be emailed, along with a brief explanation and supporting arguments, to BSF Administrator Lesley Morisetti (lesley.morisetti@britishsoftball.org) by no later than 5.00 pm on Friday 13 January 2017.


Nominations for the BSF Executive.  Vacant positions on the Executive that need to be filled are:

President
Administrator
Marketing Officer
Welfare Officer

All other positions are also up for re-election, so nominations for these positions can be made -- but incumbents will be standing.  These include the positions of:

Treasurer
National Teams Officer
Tournaments Officer
General Officer/Farnham Park Liaison
General Officer/Bookkeeping and Financial Reporting
London Liaison Officer

Nominations for any of the positions listed above, with evidence of skills or previous experience suited to the position, should be emailed to BSF Administrator Lesley Morisetti (lesley.morisetti@britishsoftball.org) by no later than 5.00 pm on Friday 13 January 2017.

For job descriptions for any of these positions, contact BSF President Stella Ackrell (stella.ackrell@britishsoftball.org).


Annual Awards.  Nominations are invited for any of the following awards:

  • The Glover Cup for outstanding long-term services to softball by an administrator or organiser.
     
  • The President’s Club Award for outstanding performance or development by an affiliated club or team.
     
  • The League Glover Cup for outstanding development achievement by an affiliated league.
     
  • The Adult Coach of the Year Award for the coach of an adult team.
     
  • The Youth Coach of the Year Award for the coach of a youth team or programme.
     
  • The Tournament Umpire of the Year Award.
     
  • The Tournament of the Year Award.
     
  • The Youth Team of the Year Award for outstanding performance or development achievement.
     
  • The Betsy Holden Award for outstanding achievement by a young person in developing or promoting the sport.
     

Nominations for any of the awards listed above, with supporting information, should be emailed to BSF Administrator Lesley Morisetti (lesley.morisetti@britishsoftball.org) by no later than 5.00 pm on Friday 13 January 2017.

Awards can only be made at the 2017 AGM in categories for which nominations have been received.


Next meeting

The next meeting of the BSF Executive will be held on the evening of Thursday 12 January 2017. 

Anyone with matters to bring before the Executive should email the details to BSF Administrator Lesley Morisetti (lesley.morisetti@britishsoftball.org) prior to the meeting.

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