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Multi-Sport co-existence, a real example from New Zealand

[<<] [>>] by Elizabeth Williams
24th October 2003 (Other News)

Duncan Hector, Chairman Letchworth Croquet Club, asked on the Nottingham list "Letchworth Croquet Club is to move to a new venue as part of a new 3 sport site with Tennis as the main player. The scheme is a flagship development with both indoor and outdoor tennis courts and excellent club and leisure facilities.

Does anyone have experience of situations where several sports share one site? If so could you comment on the best way for the clubs to manage the facility i.e. as separate entities with their own leases for their land or as a single entity with a management committee for the overall facility with each club still running its own day-to-day affairs.

John Wall answered "The Takaro Croquet Club of Palmerston North is part of a 6 sport entity, the main player of which is bowls - both men's and women's. Other activities under the Takaro Sports Club Board's umbrella are Indoor Bowls, Tennis, Soccer and Table Tennis. And recently, we have been joined by what Brits might call a "working men's club", the "City Club" (formerly the CT Club, and before that, Commercial Travellers' Club) who wanted a hall in which they could have pool tables and run pool tournaments. The facilities owned by the Board - on land leased from the City Council - are three bowls lawns, three croquet greens (along with associated equipment sheds etc.) and a large pavilion which includes a bar and kitchen. Tennis and Soccer do not use any outside facilities on Board grounds, but are members of the Sports Club because of the access it gives to the pavilion for "after-match" functions, prize-givings and other social occasions for their members.

It's also important to note that the Club is an Incorporated Society and thus has to conform with the legal provisions governing the operation of such Societies.

The administration of Sports Club matters, as opposed to individual section concerns, is in the hands of a Board consisting of President, Secretary and Treasurer elected at the AGM of the Club, the House Manager, the Greenkeeper and the President (or his nominee) of each of the sections.

A key provision which works very well in keeping relationships in the Club harmonious is the financial arrangement in place. Membership of the Sports Club costs $15 p.a. (= roughly £5) which gives access to and use of the pavilion and bar. Individual sections have their own subscriptions for running their particular sport and paying things like regional and national association levies. Indoor Bowls, Tennis, Soccer, Table Tennis and the City Club
Two key features of the financial arrangements for Croquet and Bowls are that they do not have separate or individual bank accounts (all monies are held on one set of bank accounts) and the finances of the pavilion, bar, kitchen and gaming machines (we have four "pokies") are under the jurisdiction of the Board, not of Bowls (who are actually the main users of those facilities) or of Croquet.
There are a number of advantages of having just the one set of bank accounts - a current account, a gaming machine account and a reserve account. Firstly, there can be no "secrets"! The accounts are carefully scrutinised by each section before being approved for payment, so there is no possibility, for example, of Croquet being able to get away with having an "All-expenses paid by the Board" night out for club members to mark the end of the season! Secondly, applications for sponsorship funding and grants is made that much easier in that applications are made in the name of the Takaro Sports Club Board - which has oversight of a club of some 250 members - rather than, say, the Takaro Croquet Club which has just 25 members. Thus in recent years Croquet has received grants of $6000 for an underground irrigation system, $3000 for repairs to the three-reel ride-on mower, and just recently some $500 to pay for half of this season's regional and national affiliation fees. (We asked for the total fees for both Bowls and Croquet - why not! - so were happy to get the 50%; after all, it was that much less that members have to fork out.)
Secondly, there do not have to be any "turf wars" over the allocations of income and expenditure. The running of the kitchen and bar, and the pavilion expenses, are met out of pavilion and gaming machine profits as well as the small amount of monies from subscriptions, and it is only the expenditures on bowls-specific, or croquet-specific items which are debited to those sections . . expenses like mowing, fertiliser and other grounds maintenance costs.
There is one further consideration which we have found over the years to be extremely important. Some eight to ten years ago, there was very little mixing of bowls and croquet members and there was an entrenched view on both sides that "THEY" were costing the Club a lot of money and "WE" were supporting "THEM"! The Bowls people complained that Croquet members never came across to the main pavilion - we have our own small clubhouse just by our three lawns - to have a drink after play, nor did we join in with the Friday evening social hour. On the other hand, Croquet players complained that the bowlers never came across to watch our play (would they understand it??). Something had to give, and what happened some three years or so ago was that three or four Croquet players started going across to the main pavilion for the Friday evening social activity . . not that it was always totally pleasurable going and sitting at a table either by ourselves as the main group of bowling men stood up against the "leaners" with their jugs of beer and the bowling ladies sat at their own tables, or joining with some of the less popular members of the bowling fraternity who usually sat by themselves. However, it gradually became noticed that there were some of us there, and when announcements were made about bowls activities, the President of our Croquet Club who was usually one of the "three or four", made sure that Croquet also had something to say. And with a bit of humour gradually the bowlers came to realise that croquet players were really quite decent people, and croquet players recognised that many of the bowlers were quite human after all!

This was further enhanced when Croquet proposed a combined activity - a Sports Club-wide Garage Sale - at the end of winter. This has now become an annual fixture and it is accepted that everybody participates . . and the proceeds go to the Sports Club and not to any individual section.

I've gone on long enough, but I hope it's given interested list members some idea of a situation which does work effectively, even though it's taken time and effort to get us to this stage. I'm happy to try to answer specific queries, or to give further information if requested.


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