As your baton-wielding blog-loving Vice-Chair, I’d like to tackle the criticism about the lack of communication and dissemination of information to members. This blog is for you, if you care about Netball but know little or nothing about the Regional Board or committee volunteer roles beyond your club or county.
A few key facts about the North West Netball Region:
- It embraces six counties: Cheshire, Cumbria, Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and the Isle of Man
- 9267 participants (11% of National participant total)
- 1044 organisations (12% of National total) and 314 of which are Netball Clubs.
The Chairs of all nine English Regions meet face to face or via conference call four times a year to receive updates, share good practice and discuss common challenges and to meet staff from England Netball, such as the new Interim Chief Executive Officer.
Phase 1 Arriving and Networking
My first meeting and I’m late (stressful West Coast overhead line issues sent me all over the West Midlands!): what sort of reception would I get? Inhibitions blown out the window by a lovely warm welcome, and Janet (Chair of the forum) got everyone to introduce themselves. Phew!
Lunch was an opportunity to hear a few stories about how each of the board members got involved. Delighted to see how passionate everyone is about promoting netball (and secretly wanting their own region to be the best!).
Phase 2 The 6 hour Forum
How to summarise six hours of discussion? Starting with structure and channels of communication. They should work as follows: affiliated members feed information up to their counties, the county representatives feed into the relevant Technical Support Groups (TSGs) and these feed back up to the Regional Management Board (that Shirley is Chair and I am Vice-Chair). We take this – and other items – to England Netball via this Regional Chairs Forum from which we then filter information back down: several balls to be juggled! If you want to know more about any of the items below, you can speak to the area’s Regional TSG lead or get in touch with me (names of other Board member are on North West website).
Impressive turnout from England Netball staff including Jo Adams (Interim CEO), Paul Clark (former CEO and now Performance Lead), Amy Willis (National Development Manager – Regional Implementation) Vicky Annis (Director of Finance and Corporate Resources) and Stephanie Pippin (Director of HR), also on the Agenda was Beth Jones (Children and Young People Manager) and her protégé Youth Advisory Group Chair, Charlotte Rose.
GOVERNANCE ACTION PLAN UPDATE, it was agreed that information would be rolled out in readiness for September seeking applicants for the roles of Chair and President. As to the Constitution and legal structures of each Regional group, England Netball (EN) is asking Sport England what guidance is appropriate, particularly after April.
From early February the EN website will have an important new section on Compliance and Inclusion, with information on equality and diversity. A key section that will also signpost those involved with disciplinary panels to the long awaited ‘online training’ (very good news!). There is more good news about MyNet – EN have an insight team extracting and processing data which should help provide clearer information to Regions (yippeee, as this is a big item we have been pushing for). Recent appointments to help with all this include a Disability Manager (Sheonah Forbes) and a Capital Investment and Facility Lead (Charlotte Malyon).
With the spotlight from HM Revenue & Customs on sports coaches (guidance on the sports coach UK website) and the tax affairs of organisations, England Netball invited Pay Coach, to present to the Chairs on their offer of bespoke umbrella services to ensure all involved comply with HMRC tax regulations and with payroll legislation.
The YOUTH ADVISORY GROUP
Set-up in 2009 to give a voice to the youth of Netball gathering feedback and insight from young netballers. Thirteen appointees regularly meet and discuss items with the England Netball staff. There are then two further strands: Pass On Your Passion Volunteers – POYP (12 – 25 year olds) who are volunteer coaches, umpires or administrators out and about and Youth Advisors (aged 9 – 25 years old) who don’t want to volunteer out on the ground but would like to share their thoughts and ideas with England Netball. The North West has been represented on this group by Natasha Walker. As a Region we have 122 POYP volunteers and 80 Youth Advisors.
PERFORMANCE PATHWAY UPDATE
Paul Clark gave an overview of the current position regarding nine Regional Performance Academies, fourteen Regional Academies and the one independent Regional Academy (Barking Abbey). He talked through recent discussions with Sport England and will be planning meetings with the Performance TSG leads and Regional Chairs to discuss the model and future. Aim is for all young girls to know the pathway to take should they want to play for England, and how they can reach their full potential.
Key updates from the Development team detailed how well Netball were doing after our Big Summer of Netball via their internal measures (e.g. grant applications and website data). Reviewed against some of the past external Sport England measures (Active People Survey, APS). Amy highlighted the fact EN are currently recruiting for a National Development Manager – Regional Implementation (who will oversee all the Regional Managers) due to her move to the role of National Manager – Coaching and Officiating to cover maternity leave. We also heard about an exciting new ‘ThisGIRLcan’ Sport England campaign, launched this week, to inspire women not currently exercising to get into sport and be active. There are loads of opportunities being promoted but we need to ensure we shout about them coming and playing netball!
All the Regional Umpiring TSG leads have attended a meeting together and the main two areas discussed were Course fees and the Assessors course. You should be hearing more about this from Gill Henderson or your County Umpiring leads once they have met.
Phase 3 Reflections during the journey home
I have broken all the rules by making this such a long blog (but if you are still with me – well done!). My top three reflections:
- Making things happen takes a long time. Some of the things that are starting to take shape were being discussed when I worked for England Netball (nearly 10 years ago!) but the important element is they are taking shape.
- There are a lot of passionate people working hard giving their time behind the scenes to grow and develop our great game of Netball at all levels.
- Don’t be afraid to get involved and make a difference. I was nervous about giving my input, but I walked away feeling my contributions were valued.
We will monitor feedback and reader numbers to determine if a blog such as this is an effective way to keep you in the loop. Suggestions are welcome!