BSF Executive Meeting Report: 8 June 2017

Mon 12 Jun 2017

The BSF Executive held its monthly conference call meeting on the evening of Thursday 8 June.  Below is a journalistic report on the main discussions and decisions.


Attendance​

Present:  Jenny Fromer (President), Stella Ackrell (Administrator), Jana McCaskill (National Teams Officer), Liz Graham (Competitions Director), Mike Jennings (General Officer).

Apologies:  Laura Burkhardt (Treasurer), Steve Getraer (General Officer), Chris Moon (BASU Representative).

Guest:  Bob Fromer (BSUK).


Finances​

BSF Treasurer Laura Burkhardt was unable to attend the meeting, but Mike Jennings reported that BSF finances are going to plan.  Most leagues and independent teams have paid their fees but there are a few left to chase.

As of the meeting date, the BSF had no outstanding liabilities.


BSF Development Grant​

The Executive agreed to give a grant of £250, through the Bristol Softball Association, to a new Bristol Trust Hospitals League that has formed in the city and has plans for further expansion.  The BSA has been supporting the league with equipment loans, coaching and umpiring.

The BSF grant will be used mainly for equipment, and the BSF will ask the BSA to monitor the new league’s progress and help them move towards eventual BSF affiliation.


National Championships​

BSF Competitions Director Liz Graham reported that 10 Men’s Comp Teams, 10 Men’s Rec Teams and 10 Women’s Teams (three of them Comp) have entered the BSF Single-Sex Slowpitch Nationals scheduled for 8-9 July in Birmingham.  A couple of late entries had to be turned away to maintain reasonable formats.

Liz also reported that the BSF now owns outfield fencing which is permanently stored in Birmingham and can be used for events there.


Other tournament news

The Executive noted that the Blitz Tournament, a major new co-ed slowpitch tournament that had been scheduled for 22-23 July in Essex, had been cancelled due to venue issues.  The organisers will try again next year.  The tournament had been removed from the BSF website calendar, but the Executive requested a brief news announcement to increase awareness.

Mike Jennings reported that the bat-testing machine owned jointly by the BSF and the European Softball Federation would be available for bat-testing at the Diamond Series 2 tournament on 10-11 June at Farnham Park, providing a chance for national team players at the tournament to make sure their bats are compliant.  The machine will shortly be taken to Europe for the rest of the summer for use by the ESF at its various competitions.


Memorandum of Understanding

National Teams Officer Jana McCaskill has produced a new version of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which it is hoped can be agreed by the BSF and BBF Boards, that will give BSUK the authority to deal with the British Olympic Association (BOA) and UK Sport on behalf of baseball and softball national team programmes and matters concerning the Olympics.  The MOU is necessary because baseball and softball are regarded as one sport for Olympic purposes, and both the BOA and UK Sport will only deal with one organisation.

The urgency to get this agreed is so that an application can be made through the BOA for Olympic Solidarity Funding for one or both senior national teams, but this can only be done once the MOU is in place. 

While the BSF is happy with the MOU, it remains to be seen whether the BBF will also accept it.  The BSF will keep BSUK updated so that an Olympic Solidarity grant application can be made as soon as possible.  Other British Olympic team sports – especially those that don’t receive UK Sport funding -- will also be applying, and only one sport will be funded.


National teams

The BSF Executive agreed to a request from the GB Management Committee (GBMC) to increase the amount available for bursaries to GB-based national team players, in a year when all seven national teams are in official competitions, using money from another budget line dedicated to national team travel for development purposes.  Some of the transferred funding will be used to support players on the GB Women’s Team attending a warm-up tournament in France before the European Championship, so the money is essentially being used for the purpose for which it was intended.

BSF President Jenny Fromer said that as a general principle, money allocated by the BSF for national team support could be managed by the GBMC as it thought best, but with the BSF kept up to date on any usage changes.

The Executive then held a discussion on national fastpitch team selection policy, which is currently governed by a document drawn up by the GBMC last autumn and subsequently approved by the Executive.  While the goal is to have increasing numbers of GB-based players in fastpitch competition squads, the Executive accepted that it will take time to develop British players to the point where they can be impact players at international level, and that a larger GB-based player pool is needed.  Both these issues are currently being addressed, with notable success, through the work of BSUK’s Fastpitch Development Manager Johanna Malisani, who has now been in post for just over a year, and by improvements to the Softball Academy and High Performance Academy programmes.

National Teams Officer Jana McCaskill reported that attempts to contact the GB Slowpitch Team management and develop a closer relationship between the GBMC and the GB Slowpitch programme has so far had limited success.  Jenny Fromer will attempt to organise a meeting with the relevant people.

It was noted that the GBMC has organised GB pins and pennants for the GB Slowpitch Team to take to the European Slowpitch Championship as team gifts, as it has for all GB fastpitch teams.

BSF President Jenny Fromer will send a message to all GB Teams wishing them well in this summer’s competitions.


Webstreaming

BSUK has organised the webstreaming of various softball events at Farnham Park over the past three years through professional production companies.  The results have mostly been good, particularly the telecasts from last year’s Premier Nationals, and have had good viewer numbers, but the costs have been relatively high.

This year, BSUK is offering to do the webstreaming at lower cost, albeit with fewer cameras and less programme enhancement.  The BSF would like to use this system to broadcast finals from the Co-ed Slowpitch League Nationals on 12-13 August and the NSL Nationals on 2-3 September, both at Farnham Park, and is asking BSUK to trial the system by webstreaming finals from the Diamond Series 3 tournament on 29-30 July.


MLB July 4 event

Major League Baseball is planning to host an exciting July 4th party in London at the British Summer Time Festival in Hyde Park, mixing baseball, street food and music and culminating in a Home Run Derby featuring former stars from the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The event will be free and it is hoped that many members of the British baseball and softball community will attend.  In addition to former Major League stars Carlos Pena, Cliff Floyd and Shawn Green, who will take part in the Home Run Derby, two top US women’s fastpitch softball players will also be at the event, and Jenny Fromer will explore opportunities with BSUK, who is working with MLB on the event, to involve members of GB Softball female national teams.

The MLB event will run from 5.00-10.00 pm, but BSUK is planning to organise open softball games in Hyde Park during the afternoon.


Term extensions for BSUK Directors

In order to comply with the new national Governance Code for Sport, and also to help BSUK manage a period of change which includes a cut in Sport England funding and a consequent reduction in staff, the BSUK Board would like to extend the term of BSUK Chair John Walmsley and other Board members by up to two years to ensure continuity and stability at a difficult time.

Both Federations will need to support this request if it is to take effect.  The BSF Executive will support it, but it is uncertain at this time whether the BBF will do so.


BSF social media

The BSF Executive would like to make more use of BSF social media, and will look to BSUK for assistance.

BSF President Jenny Fromer, Competitions Director Liz Graham (who does most of the BSF’s current social media) and Trevor Greenaway-Clissold from BSUK will meet to discuss the possibilities.


BSUK Committees

At each conference call meeting, the BSF Executive reviews matters arising from BSUK Committee meetings that have taken place since the Executive last met.  Each BSUK Committee includes a representative from the BSF.

Finance Committee:  Mike Jennings reported that BSUK achieved a surplus in its last financial year, but this year, when Sport England funding has been cut, it will run a balanced budget.

Remunerations Committee:  Mike also reported on the most recent meeting of this Committee.  With BSUK having lost two senior staff and now operating with a single CEO, some positions have been upgraded and pay scales adjusted, but Mike described these as “sensible changes without huge budget implications”.  The pay of BSUK staff remains at the low end when measured against other sports.


Next meeting

The next BSF conference call meeting will be held on Thursday 13 July.

Anyone with matters to raise should contact BSF Administrator Stella Ackrell (stella.ackrell@britishsoftball.org).

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