Time to deliver

17
Apr

Patrick Knock

Following the launch of Hit the Pitch, lots of planning here at BSUK Towers in Central London is now being replaced by actual delivery.  But despite the hectic nature of being at the ‘coalface’ of the sports development world as Development Manager for the South East, I wanted to use this blog as an opportunity to paint a picture of my day-to-day work and also of what’s coming soon!

Much to the bemusement of my colleague Liz, I’m going to have to use an analogy in describing the work of the development team at BSUK.  I always feel the day-to-day is very much like being on a rollercoaster -- things are constantly moving.  You have the occasional (although not many) quieter times building up to the big activity or project, when suddenly everything speeds up and you get some big ups and downs and the odd sudden drop or corkscrew you weren’t anticipating -- but you overcome it.  Just to clarify, though, I don’t sit strapped to my desk chair with my arms up in the air as I approach the start of a new project!  Now that I’ve exhausted that analogy, I thought it would be good to highlight some of the main projects on the horizon and some of the visions for the South East I would love to see come to fruition.

One of the myths of sports development is that NGBs have plenty of cash to throw at projects, when in actual fact it’s a bit like being in Jerry Maguire where you’re often saying to yourself ‘show me the money’ when identifying funding pots to run BSUK programmes or help clubs access funds so that they can realise their plans.  So it’s satisfying when clubs such as the Chichester Falcons Softball Club and Herts Baseball and Softball Club, with BSUK support, have been successful in their Sport England Small Grant applications and have recently been able to draw down significant funds to develop their participation programmes with local schools.


Show Me The Money gif

Very much at the forefront of our minds at BSUK recently has been the development and then the launch at the beginning of April of our new participation programme Hit the Pitch.  For my regional launch, I took to the road and headed to sunny Guildford to run an evening of workplace softball.  The event was a success and a great evening of friendly and fun competition between Carluccio’s, Explore Learning, Active Surrey and Surrey County Council staff, who all seemed able to ignore the five-minute biblical hailstorm which tried and failed (it must be said) to steal the limelight from Hit the Pitch. 

The evening of softball was aimed at being not only a launch event for the programme but also promotion for the planned second year of the Hit the Pitch Guildford Workplace Softball Series (GWSS).  You can check out some footage from the event in our Hit the Pitch launch video at the bottom of this page.  A special thanks to the always enthusiastic and supportive Guildford Mavericks Baseball and Softball Club who ran the mini softball tournament and ensured that many of the newbies present had a great first softball experience.  Their continued involvement as Activators in the GWSS will be crucial to its running smoothly and participants having a great time.

Guildford Workplace Softball Series
Guildford Workplace Softball Series

To use another movie connection, launching Hit the Pitch has felt a bit like Field of Dreams insofar as lots of time and hard work from BSUK staff, extended staff and the Board has gone into building something which we hope will make people come to the sports and stay playing them for some time.  If they happen to walk out of a corn field in early 1900s baseball clobber to attend a Hit the Pitch session, then all the better!  Not likely to happen but nothing can be ruled out in sport.

Now, more than ever, BSUK Development Managers will be continuing to have discussions with schools, colleges, universities, community groups, leisure centres, workplaces and clubs to make sure we have a wide range of activity taking place so we can really make inroads into our growth targets.  I look forward to putting into action plans for workplace softball leagues in Milton Keynes, Southampton, Brighton and Canterbury, to name just some, and also to supporting delivery of the youth baseball programme PlayBall! with clubs and schools across the South East.  One of my long-term visions is to see a Little League baseball or softball programme flourishing in each county with girls and boys of different age groups playing and parents heavily engaged and supporting the club. I’m very encouraged by working with clubs over the past couple of years that this vision isn’t too far away.

School softball at Farnham Park
If you build it, they will come: Softball and baseball at Farnham Park Complex

Speaking of growing participation, which is and should always be our primary aim, a constant part of the job is to keep the coaching and volunteer workforce growing in order to support the delivery of BSUK programmes and club-based activity.  Above all else, one thing I’ve learned from working at BSUK is that it’s the people who are the key drivers and make activity happen.  We hope that HTP will provide the platform for the ‘people’ to deliver sessions or events and engage with participants picking up a bat and glove for the first time.  It’s because of this that we have had several coaching courses running recently and more set up in the near future to welcome more coaches or teachers wanting to play a key part in making baseball and softball happen in their area.

Just this spring we worked with the Solent Softball League (SSL), who are celebrating their 20th anniversary -- a fantastic achievement and a tip of the hat to all involved there who keep the league not just existing but growing.  We ran a closed course for their league and as a result 12 new coaches were qualified as BSUK Level 1 coaches and will now go on to deliver sessions for new and existing players as part of the development programmes the SSL runs.

Before I sign off I want to highlight that on Saturday 18 April at Farnham Park, the first-ever North v South University Baseball All-Star Game will be held.  This follows on from the now-established National University Softball and Baseball Championship events which take place twice a year in autumn and spring and have steadily grown in the number of teams taking part.  This is a real measure of the growth that is being achieved in the two sports in the university sector – growth that we want to see continuing. 

On this occasion, though…..come on the South!

tagged under: coaching, bsuk staff, activators, university, hit the pitch, patrick knock, herts baseball club, chichester falcons, guildford mavericks, solent softball league

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