The BSF Executive held its most recent monthly videoconference meeting on the evening of Thursday 8 July. Below is a journalistic account of the main discussions and decisions.
Present: Ieuan Gale (President), Laura Burkhardt (Treasurer), Liz Graham (Competitions and Membership Officer), Simon Mortimer (Communications and Marketing Officer), Mike Jennings and Lesley Morisetti (General Officers), Bob Fromer (Administrator).
Apologies: Mike Lott (Coaching Officer).
Guest: John Boyd (BaseballSoftballUK).
Members of the BSF Executive had met remotely on 29 June to review and revise the BSF budget for 2020-21 in light of the number of teams that have affiliated this year and the income the BSF will receive as a result. Now, at the BSF’s monthly meeting, Treasurer Laura Burkhardt presented details of the revised budget to the Executive.
Current figures suggest that the number of team affiliated this year will be down over 2019, a year in which affiliations were high.
This amounts to a hopefully temporary loss of around 100 teams across the country, with the highest number of losses coming in London corporate leagues, probably as a result of many people in the relevant industries continuing to work from home.
On the other hand, team affiliations this year have been bolstered by the addition of some new teams in slowpitch leagues and development programmes, and the Great Britain Fastpitch League is playing with 10 teams this year as opposed to seven teams in 2019.
While the expectation is that numbers of affiliated teams will be higher in 2022 if conditions are more “normal”, the BSF, which had no membership income at all in 2020, is having to tailor its 2021 spending to ensure that there are no further losses and that the process of building back its reserves can begin.
Achieving this will be easier this year because of the unfortunate fact that no GB National Teams are competing in international tournaments due to Covid issues, which will save the BSF a considerable amount of money.
The BSF is also continuing to benefit this year from generous financial support from BaseballSoftballUK, which is covering some BSF expenditure and providing some services free of charge.
At this point, the revised budget suggests that the BSF will have income of around £60,000 in 2020-21 and will spend somewhere between £50,000 and £55,000, allowing reserves to begin to recover. Even so, the BSF will end the current financial year around £20,000 down on what governance principles suggest its reserves should be.
Service Level Agreement with BSUK
The Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the BSF and BaseballSoftballUK, under which BSUK is paid to provide non-development services to the BSF in areas such as communications, events support and insurance provision, has been suspended since the pandemic began, with BSUK continuing to provide a number of these services without charge.
However, a new SLA will take effect at the start of the BSF’s next financial year on 1 October, and between now and then, negotiations will take place to determine what services BSUK will be asked to provide and at what cost.
President Ieuan Gale and Treasurer Laura Burkhardt will lead these negotiations for the BSF.
Meanwhile, BSUK CEO John Boyd, who now attends BSF monthly meetings, told the Executive that BSUK will shortly be announcing a plan to identify and add value to BSF “Crown Jewel” events, primarily through media and communications initiatives. This year will be treated as a pilot to get the relevant technology in place.
BSF Development Grants
The BSF has made five £250 Development Grant awards over the past year in response to applications, but because of Covid issues only three of the grants have so far been taken up and one has been deferred to next year.
This means that the BSF may have the capacity to make one or two more grant awards in its current financial year, which ends on 30 September.
An article setting out the criteria used by the BSF in deciding on applications, plus a link to the application form, has recently been published on the BSF website here.
Coaching sessions for women slowpitch players
Reports from a number of leagues suggest that there has been excellent attendance at women-only slowpitch coaching sessions.
BSF Coaching Officer Mike Lott and BSUK will work together to expand the number and range of these sessions in future.
Softball World Series
A full complement of 15 teams has entered the 2021 BSF Softball World Series, but six of those teams are from other European countries and there is some uncertainty at this point about whether Covid regulations in the UK and/or in their home countries will allow them to travel to the tournament.
The issues are currently being explored with these teams, and a final decision will need to be made early in August.
Depending on the outcome, places could be made available – for this year only – to additional UK-based teams.
Slowpitch World Cup
BSF General Officer Mike Jennings, who represents Softball Europe on the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Slowpitch Working Group, reported that there have been no further Working Group meetings over the past couple of months.
However, Mike has submitted slowpitch-specific format possibilities for 16 and 12 teams for the first-ever WBSC Slowpitch World Cup for national teams, expected to take place in 2023, for consideration by the WBSC, and will follow up with commentary on these formats to make sure they are understood by people more used to planning fastpitch events.
A document which explains how the GB Management Committee (GBMC) will get its income in future, based on recent decisions by the BSF Executive, and that also explains why the GBMC needs an income and what it spends its money on, has now been posted on the BSF website here.
Fastpitch Development Plan
BSUK, through BSF-BSUK Fastpitch Development Manager Alyson Spinas-Valainis, is working on a comprehensive Fastpitch Development Plan which will be circulated when ready to the BSF Executive and the wider fastpitch community for comments.
The Plan will set out strategies and programmes for increasing the number of people – especially young people – playing fastpitch in the UK, increasing competition opportunities and structures, developing more and better fastpitch coaching and developing the talent pathway leading to the High Performance Academy and national team programmes.
BSF Articles and Constitution
The task of rewriting and updating the BSF Constitution and Articles of Association has been slow to get under way.
But a Working Group has been formed including members of the Executive and former BSF President Jenny Fromer, and an initial meeting will be convened in August to define and apportion tasks.
UK Sport grant to GB Women’s Team programme
John Boyd told the Executive that the contract covering UK Sport’s four-year grant to the GB Women’s Softball Team programme, totalling almost £290,000, has now been signed and that UK Sport has approved the programme’s campaign plan and budget. The first tranche of this year’s grant should be paid soon.
The contract is between UK Sport and BaseballSoftballUK. BSUK will administer the money, which will be spent on a programme agreed by the BSF and the Women’s Team.
The aim of the investment is to create a credible performance programme for the team leading up to the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and to bring about changes to our national team systems and structures that will give us the best chance to succeed on the Olympic stage.
BSUK will soon be advertising for a part-time Head of Performance Systems to direct the programme.
Money will be spent athlete identification and development, enhancement of the GB Softball talent pathway and direct support for the team at official and preparation competitions.
BSF postal address
Because the BSF has never had its own premises, its postal address, at least since 2000, has been “c/o BSUK”.
Recently, BSUK has moved its offices and address from a facility shared with other sports organisations near Tower Bridge to the Home Plate clubhouse at Farnham Park, and the BSF postal address will now be “c/o BSUK” at Farnham Park.
This should make it easier for member of the BSF Executive to collect the post!
The next BSF Executive videoconference meeting will be held on the evening of Thursday 12 August.
Any member of the softball community with matters to raise at the meeting should contact BSF Administrator Bob Fromer.