September 30, 2014 07:00 AM

London Chair’s Blog – September 2014

The timing of this blog coincides with the end of the Track & Field season as regards my own involvement as an official: I’ve just submitted my Annual Record of Experience to UKA, which always gives pause for reflection. The two and a half months since my previous blog in July have seen an intense period of involvement in officiating at athletics meetings, both in London and further afield. Among the highlights for me have been:

  • In London, the Invictus Games at Lee Valley was an exceptional event. The public’s interest in Disability Sport that was so evident at the London Paralympics has been truly rekindled, both by this event and others that are now gaining a place in the athletics calendar. It is important that these opportunities continue to filter down to grass roots level. It was appropriate that the appointment of officials for the event was done via the Officials Secretaries for counties that are based in London, giving a number of officials who are active mainly with their clubs to join with others who judged at London 2012. On a different level, the Surrey Road relays at Wimbledon Park were a well-supported event and it was great to see London running clubs like Wimbledon Windmilers and Clapham Chasers playing an important role in what is a traditional fixture.
  • Further afield, I spent a gruelling (13 hour days at the stadium) but very fulfilling week in Swansea at the IPC European Championships before driving straight to Birmingham for the Diamond League. Being on the tall side (1.96m) I tend to get given the job of putting the bar back on in the High Jump (especially when it goes above 2.40), which gave me a great opportunity to see Messrs Bondarenko and Barshim at close quarters. Equally absorbing was a week-end at the ESAA Combined Events Championships in Boston: such a concentration of talent, and it was no bad thing to see my home county of Surrey dominating the Boys’ Octathlon.

It is one of the strengths of our sport that officials are required to contribute at grass roots as well as at international level. We urgently need to maintain and replenish our cadre of officials in London. We have officials courses coming up at the end of next month both North and South of the river (see the Education tab on the London Athletics website for details) and there should be every incentive for London clubs to sign up for those.

 

Turning to London Council matters, I mentioned in my last Blog that I would be announcing three newly co-opted members of the London Council. They are Susan Cook, Richard Pettigrew and Anthony Soalla-Bell: their details are shown on the London Athletics website on the page under the London Council and Minutes tab. We expect that Susan will in particular bring an important contribution to our discussions both of Disability Athletics and of volunteer recruitment, while Richard will bring expertise to our attempts to help clubs on the Facilities front. Anthony has a very broad background across the sport, but will work alongside Steve Bosley on the Schools portfolio as well as supporting Lorna Boothe in the critical area of coaching. These three were chosen (as I explained in my July blog “with appropriate skills and who reflect the diversity of athletics” within the Region) by the London Elected members. We’d be keen to hear from others who wish to make the commitment to contribute in this way and have particular expertise to bring.

 

A continued area of emphasis for our London Council discussions is recruitment and training of both coaches and officials. We all know that our clubs cannot succeed and grow without those resources, and we are acutely conscious that there are some big challenges there. Graeme Allan, our London Education Manager has a crucial role to play in addressing those. Our discussions in Council meetings on the degree of effectiveness of nationally driven strategies have tended to be driven by anecdotal evidence and gut feel. So, I’m working with Graeme to put together a framework for providing harder numbers for London Region to inform those discussions, and I intend to publish those here in due course on the London Athletics website. We should have our first set of figures available for our next Council meeting on 22nd October. Getting accurate numbers is proving a challenge but I’d rather get something visible quickly on an “80:20” basis than wait months for spurious accuracy. Believe it or not, one of our issues is making sure that all coaches and officials who live in a London borough and / or are members of a London based club get recognised as such in the reporting systems.  One way in which all London coaches and officials can help is to check that your own details recorded on the UKA / EA database show that your connection / affiliation is with London Region (there are no payment implications here!). You can do that by logging on here and checking that (under “roles” on the Home page) your Region / District is shown as “England London”.

 

On a wider, National front, we have of course since July had the announcement of the increased Affiliation / Registration fees. My London Co-Chair, Tony Shiret has in his National Chair’s blog last week (on the England Athletics website here referred to the need to put in place processes to ensure that all E A member clubs are seen to support the sport in the same way. I appreciate that a related aspect of this process is still to ensure that there is a reasonable degree of transparency in the published EA financials, so that people can see where their membership fees are being spent. Some progress has been made on this front over the past 18 months or so and club representatives who attended the London Clubs conference will have seen some budget figures provided, which I’ve since sent to all London clubs and are available for download on the EA website. As we have the second “Whole Council” conference (to which all Regional Councillors across England are invited) next month, Tony has kindly asked me to present – in my capacity as a member of the EA Audit & Assurance Committee – an update on those.

 

Finally, details have in the last week gone out to clubs and other EA members of the AGM on 18th October: AGMs may not always sound the most exciting of occasions, but I’d urge all London clubs to take the opportunity to send a representative or if that’s not possible to ensure that your committee casts its vote by proxy. That includes ratification of the three new directors who were appointed in July following an open application process. You may have spotted from the EA website that I am one of those: my flagging this now is in no way a reflection of any misplaced desire for self-promotion (I’m acutely conscious of the challenges and responsibilities that the role brings), but simply a wish to assure London clubs that I don’t expect this to impact materially my role as Co-Chair of London Region: I’m be carrying on with that and intend to stand for re-election to the London Council in 2015.

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