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Breaking down the 2020 BAFA Annual report and highlighting some of the key parts while analysing some of the questions it might conjure up!

Ahead of the British American Football Association (BAFA) Annual General Meeting, the organisation has released its annual report. We had a deeper dive into it and highlighted some of the questions posed to us by members of the teams that make up the British American Football League.

Over the past six months, I think BAFA has made all the right moves to progress the game forward in the UK and this report coming out before the AGM details some of the progress they have made. Obviously, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the sport this year but there are plenty of positives to take out of this report. They even released a high-level overview of their finances…


Successes

Some of the highlights of the last year before Covid-19 were noted as below;

  • Hosting the Women’s European Championships
  • Britbowl having record attendance and being streamed on the BBC
  • GB Men’s Contact winning 34-0 over Russia in the IFAF 2020 European Championship
  • CFL combine
  • Youth flag teams playing on the field at Wembley.
  • Women’s Football has made huge gains with the flag league being one of the only BAFA divisions to complete their full season. 16 teams competed in the league and that is only set to grow over the next few years. The time off has allowed for reviews of both contact and flag leagues to go under review on how to proceed and grow.

The addition of a paid CEO within BAFA raised a few eyebrows when it was first announced, however it has clearly had a positive impact on the sport in the UK. He laid out what his aims were:

‘My initial aims on arrival were to put in place building blocks to create a high performing National Governing Body, establish strong partnerships with key stakeholders, good governance, a sustainable financial position for the organisation and create a long-term vision for British American football.’

There have been a lot of changes to the BAFA team over the last 6 months where new personnel have been put in positions to help strengthen the Governing Body. Along with this, they have established important bodies to support the game. These include;

  • Diversity & Inclusion Committee
  • Science & Medicine Group
  • Athletes Commission.
  • Valued partnerships are being developed with organisations like the NFL and BAFRA, an alliance with the CFL and a partnership with BUCS

All pieces can be found on the annual report itself to explain each section and what they aim to do.

BAFA has also appointed a new National Programme head coach in Jason Scott. In a recent interview/discussion with Gridiron Hub on Gridiron Live, he looks to be very committed to the cause and had some great plans around regional trials to give opportunities to players from all over the UK to play in the national team in the future. This will be good news to most people who potentially have never had the opportunity to showcase their skills because of the division they play in.

One of the most positive things we reported on earlier in the year was a £23,000 investment into the British American Football Coaches Association (BAFCA) to provide educational and professional development opportunities to coaches in order for them to develop themselves and, in turn, develop our game to the next level.

Pete Ackerley also pointed out the new 10-year vision that is in the works.

‘During the next 12 months, I will be focused on developing four key priority areas for our sport:

  • Participation – ensuring we have an inclusive offer to create a culture of lifelong participation and establishing the best structure for American football to deliver growth in all formats.
  • People – building a strong, skilled, supported and valued volunteer workforce and the aim, in the medium term, to invest in professionalising the sport in all areas – particularly in the vital areas of coaching and refereeing.
  • Places – investing and supporting our clubs and teams to build sustainable communities of football, establishing high quality environments to play and perform.
  • Pathway to Performance – creating a long-term athlete development plan to ensure the right progression from the fundamental skills required to achieving GB selection and podium success.

Ultimately, I want us to make a difference to all areas of British American football.’


Finances

One of the new stipulations for teams this coming season is to provide accounts for their organisation. I assumed that this was to make sure that teams are sustainable and really nobody should have anything to hide in my opinion. However, the question was raised on numerous occasions ‘why do we have to share ours when BAFA won’t share theirs.’

Well they now have for the first time.

Nichole McCulloch BAFA Chair said;

‘One of the big things that’s been highlighted to us over the last few months is that in the past BAFA haven’t been clear on how your membership fee is spent. It’s essential that we’re clear and transparent on what your membership fees contribute to and how they support the entire organisation.’

 Areas your fees support include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Ongoing legal, financial, and operational costs to run an NGB including registration systems and IT infrastructure, CEO costs, volunteer expenses and communications and marketing
  • Supporting coach and referee development
  • Club development and support to ensure sustainable infrastructure and innovation to develop clubs long term
  • Insurance that covers professional indemnity for clubs who might be at risk of claims against poor conduct, public liability that offers similar cover for the public when they interact with clubs, and personal accident cover to mitigate financial loss and help with medical costs and rehabilitation for those whom this isn’t their main income but a hobby
  • Lobbying the government on your behalf to ensure compliance, governance, and recognition to play and for our sport to go ahead both normally and in these current unprecedented times
  • Working with key stakeholders at the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Sport England, Sport Scotland and Sport Wales and the Sport & Recreation Alliance
  • Ongoing and detailed stakeholder engagement and partnerships with the NFL, CFL , BUCS, AoC Sport, Youth Sports Trust and education partners

As the new BAFA website launches board & committee meeting minutes will be transparent and posted online as well as their policies and procedures being available for review. This should provide everyone who needed it, a little bit of comfort for what goes on behind closed doors at BAFA headquarters.

From the financial overview, there are a few things that have stuck out and been praised or questioned in the last 24hours.

  • A £10,000 grant from Sport England given to BAFA in support of the reorganisation in its structure and governance improvement programmes.
  • A new/better insurance policy through Bluefin Sport was announced and this was covered by Gridiron Hubs local insurance expert Will.
  • A large bill for travel expenses at £23,338 was questioned by a number of our followers. We at Gridiron Hub are not sure where they are travelling that they could amount these kinds of costs.
  • National programme expenses also seem very extensive at £217,386. Although there are senior teams, junior teams, flag teams and a women’s team, it was well known that a large cost was covered by any players playing for GB themselves. I would assume travel in Europe, Kit expenses would play a large part in this cost being so high but might be something worth clarifying from BAFAs side.
  • National League Expenses I’d assume is for venues, media and silverware for all the different finals that go on but again the questions we have received from the Britball Community is ‘how is it so high’?

New Team

First of all, congratulation’s has to go out to the Scunthorpe Alphas American Football Team for their acceptance into the league for the 2020/21 season. Having achieved all the goals set out for new teams by BAFA they are now ready to roll. We wish them the best of luck going forward.

Which division they will go into is not confirmed however they likely join a division with many teams they seem to be made up from. Earlier this month an article was put out on Gridiron Hub asking some questions about how all the teams in that local area can survive with so little participation numbers available. Many members of the Alphas team are ex members of other teams in the area. Something I think BAFA should really consider in the future is the demographics before allowing new teams in. Maybe set up dialogue between existing teams to see if any help can be supplied to help existing teams get stronger and develop partnerships rather than splinter off an create new teams.


Game Development

Several projects are being undertaken by Game Development Manager Warren Smart.

  • The associate and membership process has been reviewed, with changes being forced by the impact of Covid-19 requiring practical solutions to growing the number of members.
  • Closer links with Sport England are being forged.
  • Renewals are being more rigidly enforced to assist with moving the association to Sport England Tier 3 governance status thus making it more likely that grants and financial support can be successful.
  • Club Matters Workshops are being offered for free to help teams to develop valuable new skills and capabilities. Corporate partnerships are also being developed with news of important opportunities due soon.
  • In addition, the Forces American Football Association (FAFA) is working towards association membership along with MOD structure for sport (JSP). Chris Herbert has volunteered to liaise between BAFA and FAFA to make this development happen.

The various possible outcomes of the pandemic mean the association has to be flexible and create plans that give us the flexibility to deliver competition under a variety of circumstances.


BAFRA

The British American Football Referee Association set out their main objectives;

  • To enable all American football games in Britain to have neutral officials.
  • To improve the standard of officiating by training and examination, and by any other means.
  • To promote and uphold the status of officials both collectively and individually.
  • To co-operate and to cultivate good relations with all bodies concerned with American football, for the betterment of the game.
  • To take such action or make such representation as a Company or in conjunction with others as may be considered desirable, in the interests of American football in Britain in general or for the benefit of officials and officiating in particular.

‘Recruitment and retention as with most other sports, recruitment and retention of officials is one of our primary areas of focus and greatest challenge. Our Director of Recruitment, along with our Media Team, has worked tirelessly over the last year to attract more people into officiating and our efforts have been highly successful. Over the last 12 months we received 105 enquires, albeit not all go forward and take up the stripes. Covid-19 is also having an impact on recruitment with only 25 of those enquiries coming in since March. The positive outcomes from our recruitment campaigns are that we have 56 officials in training. This is the highest number we have had within our ranks for many a year. We look forward to the time when we can get back out on the field and complete their qualification training. We have also retained 146 of our qualified officials.’

The referees have been keeping up their training and development through weekly online calls. This is a great way to keep the interest level up as well as recruit new officials.


Athlete Committee & Diversity and Inclusion

Something that all players should take an interest in is the Athlete committee. This is a newly setup group that listed their main objectives;

  • Represent the views of the athletes within BAFA, protect their interests and uphold their rights and obligations.
  • Serve as a consultative body and a link between active athletes and the BAFA Board.
  • Create, manage and promote platforms and structures for athletes, which facilitate communication and the sharing of knowledge and experiences amongst the group.
  • Develop, collate, provide and promote resources for athletes on topics of direct concern including but not limited to athlete health and welfare, national programme pathway, anti-doping etc.

Lots of questions this year have been raised around diversity and inclusion. The new group set up within BAFA lead by Phoebe Schecter will be responsible for ensuring the development and delivery of the organisation’s diversity and inclusion agenda. The group will promote, champion and encourage diversity, inclusion and equality in the workplace and will monitor the key areas of performance. The group will also consider the future strategic agenda relating to diversity and inclusion and will advise and make recommendations on appropriate initiatives and activities that will help BAFA achieve its key diversity aims.


BAFCA

The British American Football Coaches Association is there to allow coaches to progress, educate and develop themselves within the American Football Scene. Their objectives listed below;

  • To formulate short-term and long-term strategies for the development of coach education and accreditation programmes in Great Britain.
  • To determine the direction and components of the BAFCA Coach Education Programme with input from the national and international sports associations and to monitor and evaluate implementation.
  • To liaise with national and international sports governing bodies and institutes of higher education in Great Britain and overseas concerning matters relating to coach education.
  • To provide a forum for the discussion and study of all matters pertaining to American football and coaching in Great Britain.
  • To make the game as safe as possible for all participants through coach education, national governing bodies legislation and the rules of play.
  • To have a strong voice in the domestic and international legislation affecting football programs within Great Britain and those representing Great Britain.
  • To exchange freely information on coaching methods, education and technique.
  • To promote good fellowship and social contacts within the Association and American football in Great Britain.

British American Football Association (BAFA) AGM was held on Saturday 31st October 2020 from 10:00am to 10:45am.

The full Annual Report can be found here!

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