Council met by Zoom for the last time this year, to review and progress some unresolved issues.
The pools of people willing to server on disciplinary and appeals panels were expanded and it was noted that Stephen Mulliner was leading a review of the process. However, a more specialist group to review use of social media and a code of conduct for doing so was also needed and suggestions of people willing to lead and serve on such a group were requested, before the end of the year.
A common theme throughout the meeting, was how volunteers for this and other tasks should be identified, both to give opportunities to people who wished to contribute and to enable the organisation to harness the skills and effort available. There was consensus that such roles should be advertised, but also that people should be personally encouraged to apply for them. Brian Havill noted that in many other sports there was a natural progression of people serving in clubs being asked to fill roles at regional level, where they gained experience before moving up to national ones: this did not seem to happen so much in croquet. Beatrice McGlen noted that there were already 80 or so people currently serving on committees reporting to the Executive Board and emphasised the need to support them and refrain from negative criticism.
Other specific vacancies discussed were:
leaders and members of groups to recommend how general meetings should be conducted, given that videoconferencing was now much more commonly used, and to review coaching and performance
a successor to Rick Waterman as AC International Performance Director
someone to replace Ian Vincent as Hon. Secretary: an advertisement and approaches made for that had been unsuccessful.
Council were delighted to ratify the appointment of Daniel Gott to fill the vacancy for the competitive croquet portfolio on the Executive Board.
The Treasurer, Ian Burridge, noted that pre-payment of subscriptions from clubs for next year were running ahead of those at the same time last year. He reported that the Executive Board was still working on the budget for 2021: the outcome would depend to a large extent on the success of initiatives to attract external support in the form of sales, advertising and sponsorship.
An application to the Sport & Recreation Alliance's Legal Panel Framework for pro-bono advice about changing the CA's legal structure had been approved, but more detail of the arrangements and costs were awaited before a decision could be taken about whether to take up the offer.
The Executive Board's report took the form of a spreadsheet showing topics, progress made, and timescales for completing each. In response to a question, Beatrice McGlen said that, as far as she was aware, self-editing of fixtures calendar entries by clubs was going well and confirmed that, because of Covid-19 uncertainty, a paper fixtures book would not be published next year.
Samir Patel's authorisation review group reported that it had reviewed the comments received on its draft authority matrix and updated it accordingly. It conceded that the raw data was very difficult to assimilate, so Eugene Chang had provided a web-based lookup application for it. It was agreed to adopt the matrix on a provisional basis for the next few months, with the group being authorised to update it in the light of experience, before it was finally agreed as part of the standing orders and practice book when they were revised next year.
Dave Kibble had reviewed the troubled history of the proposal by the Coaching Committee to introduce GC Merit awards and concluded that it should be implemented, on the grounds that it fell within the remit of that committee and, now that it had been changed to avoid conflict with the CA Silver Medal, did not raise any strategic or cross-functional issues. This was agreed and Dave was thanked for his work.
Beatrice McGlen reported that Sport England had dropped its Club Mark accreditation scheme, but that it was encouraging governing bodies to run their own. Doing so would not only help clubs to improve their governance, but achieving an award would also provide re-assurance to potential members and grant awarding bodies. Unlike safeguarding arrangements, such a scheme would be voluntary. She will get further details of whether a national governing body had to register to run such a scheme and whether any guidance was available about doing so, before a decision was taken whether or not to implement one.
Finally, Brian Havill reported that the issue had been raised, during the annual review of tournament regulations, of whether white clothing should still be the default requirement for playing in calendar fixture tournaments. It was agreed that there were a wide spread of strongly held opinions on this, and that a group representative of more than just the tournament committees should be assembled to review it, after requesting thoughts from the membership and trying to get evidence for some assertions frequently made.
The next scheduled meeting of Council will be on 30th January, in what I hope will be a less uncertain New Year.