#TeamDC headed up to the 2018 BAFCA Convention this past weekend, and while we were only there really to film and photograph the event, it’s fair to say it’s such a football-focused education event, that any fan of the game can’t help but learn something while they’re there.
It’s far from just about the speakers and, new for this year, onfield observations opportunities – it’s a great opportunity for networking, socialising and generally geeking out on all things Football!
And this year especially there was a particular buzz ahead of the convention, thanks to the recent news out of BAFA about the new board, and the great potential for positive change they bring to our sport!
A number of the new additions to the BAFA board were in attendance, and for those interested in the future of our game there was A LOT of interesting information being shared!
So here’s some of the key takeaways we took from the weekend:
1. If you want to improve your game? You really should attend this thing next year.
Look, we understand spending your Bank Holiday weekend in a Conference Centre watching Powerpoint presentations isn’t everyone’s ideal long weekend…
But frankly, you could skip pretty much each and every talk at this event, and still come out of the weekend a better coach, and better britballer in general.
The speakers themselves are just one facet of the Convention – so much of the meat of it takes place in the bar, the vendor displays, or the corridors – as coaches from across the community share insights and anecdotes and build contacts that’ll benefit them for years to come. Where else might you see a freshly-blooded Level One British Coach sit down for a pint with a Championship-winning NCAA guru of the game?
The only disappointing part of the weekend was how under-attended it was, with around only ~10% of coaches in the community willing/able to attend. While many programmes across the Nation may have had multiple delegates in attendance, most outfits missed out on not only self-improvement… but also some key information about the future of the British game.
2. British Coaching is growing
At the BAFCA AGM the coaching association reported an overall rise in the number of qualified and registered coaches in the British game – a whopping increase of about 50% on last year’s figures!
The rise likely represents the move towards minimum’s standards in the British game – i.e. the presence of at least three Level One Coaches on every roster.
Notably, there was a 6% overall decrease in Uni coaches registered this year, though rumblings are this may be due to a number of teams utilising the much more affordable ‘Sideline Assistant’ role to register portions of their staff – a loophole likely unavailable in future seasons.
The set up for this year’s convention was great, with the Convention itself, the on-field sessions, and quality accommodation all in one spot. The training field for the all-new On-field observation opportunities was right across the street from the Conference Centre, which itself was crawling distance from the hotel (A necessary quality for a few coaches ‘the morning after’…) and hopes are we’ll see the venue utilised for future Cons, including increasing the amount of hands-on, on-field components – allowing for greater sharing of drills and direct observation of coaching techniques.
Looking ahead, the BAFCA Board shared the prospect of ‘Centres of Excellence’ for coaching being initiated around the country to host more regular coaching clinics and offer the revamped coach education programme. The long-sought BAFCA website is reportedly very close to launch.
3. The winds of change, they are a-blowing – the new BAFA Board
One of the most informative, if perhaps underattended, sessions at this year’s convention was the Q&A session hosted by outgoing BAFCA President, Paul Sheratt, looking at the recent announcement of changes to the BAFA Board, what’s happened so far, will be happening, and what the future may hold for the British game.
DC was lucky enough to sit in on the session, filming it for those BAFCA members unable to attend, and there was a lot of noteworthy insights shared into massive transformation the National Governing Body of the British game is about to undertake!
The ‘who’ of the new board was announced last week, and on Sunday morning we learnt that all the new Board members are already making waves!
The announced board members have already been co-opted into positions on the current BAFA Board (intended future BAFA Chair, Nichole Trudeau-McCulloch for example, has been co-opted into the vacant Vice Chair position), allowing them to get cracking on moving the British game forwards even as we go through the complicated transition process.
There’s a great positive vibe around these moves, with what was described as a ‘Tsunami of Enthusiasm’ from the incoming board members. Indeed, Trudeau-McCulloch attended the convention on Saturday, spending much of the day engaged in conversations with coaches from across the community – eager to hear from the many different perspectives present at the Convention.
4. Britball’s opening up – AGMs are coming back!
A topic that comes up whenever there’s an element of conflict or confusion in the British game, and communication is found to be lacking… ‘Whatever happened to the AGMs?’
Eager to increase transparency, the first AGM in many years is expected in September, with the intention of confirming the new Board members into the five elected postings that have been created.
But perhaps what’s even more exciting about the return of the AGM’s is who will actually get to have a say at them…
5. Clubs to become ‘voting members’!
Along with the return of the AGMs, another exciting insight shared was that changes are afoot to rework how ‘voting’ works in the Association.
Currently, there’s an exceedingly limited pool of people who actually get a say in the shape of the British game – ‘voting’ members are limited to a number of board roles, as well as ill-defined representatives of the different components of the British game – i.e. Adult, Women’s, University etc.
However, by the time the AGM comes around, the goal is to have a new system in place whereby each club (/programme) will have a vote.
Now, to be clear, whether a programme has a five-person flag team, or an oversubscribed roster for each and every format of the British game, they only get one vote – however, it’s a huge step forward from where we were, and word is incentives are on the way for programmes who offer a more full range of Britball opportunities!
There’s probably a bunch of other takeaways I could share, too, or important bits I’ve neglected to mention… BAFCA members should certainly check out the recording of the BAFA Q&A session from Sunday morning, shared in the BAFCA Member’s Only Facebook group as there’s a lot more detail on some of the really crucial stuff shared above.
However, the biggest takeaway of all is the general air of positivity that suddenly infuses the community – something that definitely feels has been lacking for far too long!