DSN’s AGM following the London Olympics included a major event involving leading local clubs, national sporting organisations, local politicians and MPs. The objective was to understand what was happening nationally and how we could all work closer together to try and deliver the Olympic Legacy at a local level.
Following the formal AGM proceedings the debate was hosted by Andy Criddle (DSN Chairman – shown above) and included an expert panel of:
MP Mike Penning (DSN Patron), Cllr Neil Harden (Dacorum Borough Council), Adam Rigarlsford (Sport England), Dave Cove (Sportspace), Cllr Derrick Ashley (Herts Olympic & Paralympic Legacy Board), Clare McCawley (Dacorum School Sports Network Manager) and Owain Jenkins (Herts Sports Partnership).
The Debate –
Adam Rigarlsford from Sport England (SE) started the evenings discussion with a bit of background on himself and his personal interest and support for Dacorum, as well as outlining the Sport England strategy for 2014-17 with particular focus on the funding allocation schemes and the organisations focus for the coming years. He noted a couple of good examples which were:
1) Shelley Netball Club – who received a grant from SE in order to expand youth participation in Tring
2) The Further Education Colleges (FE Colleges) who had and will help with the Satellite clubs set up for the coming years
ARigarlsford noted how the Mass Participation plans and previous schemes have been “Very successful in Herts to date” and encouraged clubs to keep actively seeking funding and help from SE, Herts Sports Partnership and the local Sports Development team at Sportspace.
Gordon Harland questioned one of the examples A Rigarlsford gave to see if funding had been used to purchase a ground for Hemel Hempstead Cricket club but the information was corrected as work is currently under way to improve their facilities and give them a fourth wicket rather than them purchasing the land for the club.
A Criddle then asked Cllr Derrick Ashley to elaborate as SE is a National approach, what he would give as a more local approach in the County with respects to Legacy and Sport for 2013 and beyond. He then explained about the Herts if Ready for Winners Partnership now becoming the Herts Olympic & Paralympic Legacy Board and how they have allocated funding for particular initiatives around the County to continue the good work that the Herts is Ready for Winners Partnership began in the aims to “Live up to the promise and capture the Olympic spirit in Hertfordshire”. Also noted that it should be a “Bottom up approach to sport and not a Top down attitude” if real changes are to happen to improve sport for everyone. They have so far already hosted the Celebrating Herts Volunteers evening and the Legacy group will be the umbrella board of individuals who had an interest in work in order to Inspire a Generation and help funnel funding where it is needed across the County.
A Criddle asked D Cove about the Sports Development approach for 2013 to which he responded that the team were present on the evening and many of the audience will already know and work closely with them but as a team we will continue to work with clubs, athletes, HSP, the DSN, other partner organisation as well as individuals to help with facilities, funding, support and projects. Also to remind clubs that it is “A two way street so please do come to the Sports Development team if there is anything you would like support on or would like any advice or help then let us know because we can only help those that we know want and need our support so don’t suffer in silence”.
Clare McCawley then presented about her work with the DSSN and her approach to 2013 with a particular focus on how School-Club links can move forward and get past the issues both sides experience. The main question was “How do we all move forward … What it is that you /your clubs/schools want and what can you offer?”
S Slater from Berkhamsted Raiders explained how their club went from about 180 junior members to over 700 youngsters participating and attributed a lot of it to the relationship between themselves and Ashlyns School. They had the facility but a lot of spare time it wasn’t being used and the club had the know-how to keep it well maintained and needed the kids so their mutually beneficial situation and good working relationship has been key so he suggested a lot of clubs will need access to facilities and that it is crucial to know where they are and how to access them.
A Criddle elaborated on how they built the relationship with Ashlyns and S Slater replied that is was a combination of the School Sports Coordinators help, the upkeep of the grounds, the fact the school weren’t using it very much after 5pm or on weekends etc.
C McCawley added that secondary schools do have very little spare time to rent out facilities and that they are looking into more provisions at schools and even at primary schools however it all takes time and things like caretakers to supervise the facility and utility bills are all factors that will affect a school in this area.
Eleanor Beaumont from Hemel Hempstead school made a point that a lot of schools do not accept NGB approved CRB’s and they have to look for Hertfordshire ones in order to allow external coaches in and unfortunately this has an impact.
C McCawley answered by referring to the Coachmark scheme which is aimed at reducing the issues coaches face when entering clubs and schools because that allows them to meet minimum requirements and that clubs who have previously offered taster sessions in schools were always successful when planned well in advance as schools have to set their timetables at an early stage.
Mike Penning added that although there is a generalised and transferable CRB in the process of being rolled out by the Government, we are still a long way off that point and it still may have consequences and could incur higher costs so we shouldn’t be waiting for this to come into affect.
Several people commented on their problems and personal experiences with CRB’s, dealing with schools and whether a generic one would solve this issue or not, to which W Hollyer explained that this is why Coachmark is so important because NGB’s don’t recognise County ones and County officials often do not recognise NGB CRB’s because each have their own guidelines and rules so by using Coachmark you can at least show you do meet the minimum standard required to work with children and young adults and Herts Sports Partnership (HSP) will continue to work with coaches to try and get to a point where everyone will be satisfied but it all takes time.
Someone made note of it being easier when School Sports Coordinators were in place to which C McCawley noted that is what she is there for so do contact her whether you are a club, individual or school and if she can she will help or she will point you to someone who can help.
Roger Doodson felt that the issue lies with the priority of PE as a subject in the curriculum because unfortunately it is always the first to lose budget, time, space etc. in schools and he has teaching and coaching experience but funding and support from higher up is what PE departments need in order to combat this and that also whether the schools are private, academy or state run is a major factor as well, as all have different rules and regulations.
A Criddle noted that this is something to be taken forward and something the DSN can help with.
Cllr Derrick Ashley summarised to say that committed schools will always find a way to get around barriers but several schools now are very independent and only really listen to Ofsted governance so the real link needs to be made at the top with that framework because if no one is going to monitor and punish schools on this topic then really it will not be a priority for them.
Owaine Jenkins was the next to present on Social Media and started with a bit of background to himself as he has only been at HSP for two weeks but has extensive experience with the success and impact Social Media can have for a club. He emphasised how it is an instant update and even some sponsors/funding pots will ask about a clubs/organisations social media presence as it is all exposure to a wider audience. He noted how the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London this year were a great example and how every athlete was tweeting before during and after the games and as a whole the organisers really took advantage of this resource and amassed a huge following.
He included some information on LinkedIn which he described as a Business to Business facebook for adults where organisations can share information, job advertisements and many more things.
A Criddle thought a workshop on this to be offered to clubs and individuals would be useful as he himself has had experience, of facebook being more useful for a club than email, with Tring Rugby Club. Sue Jakeman from the Dacorum Netball Club just made a point to say coaches and leaders have to be very careful with this area when dealing with juniors to ensure everyone is protected and can lead to issues at later stages but as long as this is understood and managed correctly it was solvable.
Tom Williams from Hemel Stags Rugby League Club next explained the Lottery scheme that is being offered to the DSN and any club/organisation who wishes to participate. It is a proven success as no one at the club has ever paid subscription fees which most of you will associate with your clubs main source of income so it is hugely influential to their club and is pure profit on a weekly basis so if you require any additional information please contact T Williams and he will be happy to discuss and meet up if necessary.
The last talk of the evening was on the “Year on Event” that the DSN are hoping to coordinate and help promote (ideally with a door drop) and asked clubs for initial feedback on their thoughts so we can then send out expression of interest forms to see what clubs would ideally like for this event. The idea is for a week of events (similar to this years Festival of Culture and Sport) where we start with the Dacorum School Sports Network summer family fun day and then throughout the week clubs are invited to hold open evenings, taster sessions, master classes etc. to show case what they do and open their doors to the public in order to attract new members and/or generate a bit of extra income. If any clubs do not have their own facilities Sportspace will be happy to organise sessions at one of our venues and at the end of the week we will be holding an open day at one or more of our centres to show people what we have on offer for both clubs and organisations. In order to coordinate this we would need clubs to give an initial expression of interest by January 2013 in order to see if we would have enough events to spread it over a week and if enough clubs feel this would be beneficial to them. If this is the case then we will look into funding in order to help promote this and have some generic marketing materials that show what you can get involved in around the Borough and then clubs can send info of where and who to contact over it.
H Allen added that there will be a National Join in Campaign that we could tie this into so thought it was a good idea.
Some school reps were worried about the timing as schools will have broken up for the summer holiday by then and most teachers and students tend to all disappear on holiday fairly soon after term and wondered if there could be some lead up work towards this a couple of weeks earlier when schools are still open in order to amass more interest.
CMcCawley felt that helping to promote in schools before they break up was great however we would need the week of events to be during the school holidays in case the clubs can only offer sessions in the day as school term limits hours and availability.
ARigarlsford added that the Community Games fund could help with something like this so will be looked at once we know if this is something clubs and organisations feel would benefit them.
To end the evening questions were opened to the audience, however we were running about half an hour behind schedule so were quite brief and anything not touched or resolved this evening will be put on an agenda in order to resolve as soon as possible by holding workshops and meetings with whosoever would like this.
Andrew Farrow from Hemel Hempstead Swimming club used the Berkhamsted Raiders example to demonstrate how their club are constrained because there is limited availability at pools so wondered where the line is drawn between public swimming and time for clubs. D Cove from Sportspace answered to list the almost 100 clubs and organisations that use our pools as well as swimming lessons, public swimming, competitions that swimming clubs hold, parties, NPLQ qualifications and really unfortunately our pools are absolutely full to capacity. We have no spare time every single hour is allocated to either a club, swimming lessons, public swimming, training our own staff or one of the other things from the never ending list so unfortunately it isn’t a great situation for everyone but we can only offer what is free and really there is no time and when there is about 10 clubs will want it to it is a balancing act and not everyone is going to get their perfect scenario including ourselves as we can’t hold any more classes because even we can’t get in their so please bear with us we will always work with you to try and get the best solution out of this.
G Bettis added that this then need to be reflected in area surveys as often Dacorum is reported as having more than enough pools, pitches etc. but this is clearly not the case.
Richard Woodard from Cavendish school expanded on how they unfortunately had to remove their pool because it was proving too costly to run and they had only one or two regular bookings and it was not being utilised.
Mike Penning said this then demonstrated a break down in communication with one group desperate for space and another with a glaring availability so things like this need to be put out in the open and solutions to be found to avoid something like this in the future.
Brian Worrell from Shelley Netball Club felt the Olympics has generated a large demand but the facilities are actually full and if as a society we aren’t prepared to put in the investment to solve this then by definition it will not happen and the Council should realign its priorities to ensure Sport becomes a key factor in order for future problems to be solves.
S Slater added that this is where Sport England can help as they have several funding pots aimed at facilities you just need to go for them.
A Criddle asked Cllr Neil Harden what support will be in place going forward and he answered to say that DBC have a very good relationship with Sportspace and will continue to increase facilities where necessary and help to improve those who have seen their best years and need updating especially with those that are being overused and capacity being a huge issue.
There is also a Sports Policy statement for all clubs to use should they wish to apply for funding and it includes a facilities provision list for the area which you can have.
He also noted how clubs will need to be more pro-active and strategic moving forward and the council do not have a limitless budget so although things do need to change, no one has the money to just throw at the problems any more so we need to think of new, inventive ways to solve our problems and how we invest money for long term plans rather than short term solutions.
Gordon Harland from several Scuba Diving clubs noted that they had previously tried to access Cavendish’s school with no success, plus adding some more clubs he knows that also use Sportspace facilities adding to the large list and finally asked if there was any way they would be able to have access to Boxmoor lake as it is never used and he has tried already to have access to it with no success. Mike Penning said he will support with this and GRoake will also see if there is anything we can do as Sports Development to help get the Scuba clubs access while ensuring the council meet their rules over this area.
NB. DSN responded to this debate by organising the Olympic and Paralympic Replay Festival one year on from the opening of the London 2012 games. The festival involved local clubs and organisations across the borough who staged sports taster events, open days and fun sports based activities for all ages. With nearly 40 different events taking place between the 20th and 28th of July 2013 (an exact one year on from the start of the 2012 Olympics) and involving more than 25 different clubs and sporting organisations, the Olympic and Paralympic Replay Festival was a resounding success. Find out more about Replay here.