Now that the New Year is well started, I thought I would provide an update on Table Tennis Ireland. We have had some great successes in the last few months and we are ready to build and modernise the organisation. Certainly there have been challenges, but overall, we are in a strong position for 2017.
New Membership System
A new online membership system is going live on 1 February 2017. It is a great step forward and will allow TTI to modernise. I expect that it will reduce our costs, increase our affiliation numbers, improve our communications with members and facilitate clubs in their development. To see more, click on the link on our home page. This will be the only way to affiliate from now on.
Financial – Status, Funding, Allocation of Funds, Branch Finances
Although the accounts for 2016 are not yet unaudited, our cash position is strong and we met or slightly beat our 2016 budget i.e. made a small positive margin.
We have secured our grant funding for 2017 under three headings i.e. Core Grant, Women in Sport Grant and Club Development Grant – totalling circa €160,000. This is an increase from last year due to the results over the last few years and the great work of the office team (Mark O’Flynn and Dave Heffernan).
Other sources of funding are also important and we will apply for several more grants and supports including
1)The Capital grant to buy tables etc. which we can distribute to affiliated clubs
2)A Failte Ireland grant for a major event in Dublin
3)Affiliation fees which will be collected through the new membership system
5)Sponsorship from Butterfly, Celtic Table Tennis and Thornton Sports
6)Donations, other grants and player supports that are under negotiation or expected
In 2017, funds will be allocated to developing the sport, building new clubs, strengthening existing clubs and increasing membership.
Last year, around €108,000 was required to fund our High Performance Program (elite international players). Table Tennis Ireland provided €25,000 of that with the remaining funds (over €80,000) coming from parents and players contributions. I am very conscious of the huge financial commitment of parents and players.
Finances at Branch level seems to be an issue that has frustrated their ability to fully achieve their objectives. I want to change that by providing funding from TTI to Branches while also agreeing with those Branches what activities and objectives will be supported by this funding. Funding, to a large extent, may be based on affiliations from the Branch area and will be dependent on Branches fulfilling agreed objectives. I am keen to ensure that, what is best done at Branch level is done there and that TTI does centrally, only what makes sense to be done centrally.
This year sees the opening of the National Indoor Arena in Dublin (right beside the National Aquatic Centre in Blanchardstown). It is a huge, state-of-the-art venue, of Olympic standard. Mark and Dave, are working closely with the management of the venue to ensure we get to use this facility. They have even negotiated that we can store tables there and are expecting to develop a local club with support from the Arena. This venue will become an anchor venue for us and has helped us to secure the rights to host the European Championship Qualification 15 and 16 April (Ireland / Norway / Bosnia / Scotland). It should be a thrilling event and I hope to see you there, if you can make it.
The first event at the Arena will be the Junior Nationals on 25/26 March.
Unfortunately, we are continuing to see some weakening in our provincial events with the Munster Senior Open cancelled this year for the first time. I hope to discuss this with the Branches shortly. It is imperative that the provincial events are seen as an integral part of our calendar and competitions. We need to understand the dynamics that are leading to this decline and turn that around. Any thoughts on this should be provided to your Branch so that it can be part of our discussions.
Strategy – FIT-FOR-GROWTH
Over the last 18 months, the Board has been working on a new strategy for the period 2017-2019. We have released a draft to the Branches for their comment. We will also publish it on our website, but please provide your feedback through your local Branch.
In the past the Strategy was developed by a sub-committee of people with expertise in table tennis and also in business, operations and various other professions. This time, the Board decided to take a more active part in the development of the strategy. We wanted to consider strategically where table tennis is, what the environment is and where we want to take the organisation. Both the previous Board and the current Board and the President has been involved through various stages of review.
The next stage is consultation with the membership, following which, the Board will finalise the Strategy and that will form the basis of our activities over the next three years. We believe that strategy is as much about deciding what not to do, as it is about deciding what to do. We cannot do everything and we must focus our resources and efforts in a way where all activities are aligned. For example, spending on Women-In-Sport, Club Development and the allocation of Tables should be geographically close so that they reinforce each other.
To view the strategy document please click here
I will be interested to hear your feedback through the Branches.
The Strategy is called fit-for-growth and the four key planks are
1)Restructure and modernise the organisation and strengthen governance
2)Develop a healthy and supportive culture
3)Establish new clubs and help existing clubs to grow and improve
4)Improve the financial strength and balance of the organisation
Women In Sport
You will have seen, on our website, the call for comment from Sports Ireland on how to encourage more women to take up leadership positions in sporting organisations. The initial proposal was to introduce gender quotas and to financially penalise organisations (above a certain size) that did not reach the quota. I attended a meeting just before Christmas with the Minster, Shane Ross TD, and fifty other sporting organisations. The Minister seemed to pull back from the idea of penalising where quotas were not met, but wanted more ideas on how to achieve increased female leadership. At the meeting, speaking in behalf of TTI, I noted that the previous chair of TTI was a woman and that our difficulty was in attracting volunteers of either sex, and that I had never had any complaints of a glass ceiling at TTI. However, I undertook to get the feedback of our members. To date I have received no feedback from any member or Branch.
As I said when elected to Chair, we cannot have a healthy organisation if we cannot attract both women and men to join. This is a crucial priority.
Most of our efforts in this area revolve around the Challenger series events and the like. We have not had an active Participation Director for some time now and this has limited us. We have the resources and strategy for increasing participation, by focusing on clubs, but we need a Director to provide leadership.
You all know of Rena’s success at the Paralympics in 2016. Rena is going to give it another shot at Tokyo and she has begun to plan her training programme with a view to achieving the glorious goal of winning a medal. We are also keen to encourage other Para players to take up the game and, for those already playing, to develop further. We will be providing some funding for monthly coaching sessions targeting a development squad at the CRC in Dublin. I am looking for a Para Director who could take up the mantle of ensuring we grow our Para membership and build on the success of Rena and others before her in achieving competitive success.
The following roles are available at TTI. In all cases there is support from other Board members and from the office staff. We have adequate resources and a firm framework of plans in all areas. So, this is a great opportunity to take up these roles to give back to Table Tennis, to enhance your CV and to get a great sense of achievement through working with other professional colleagues at TTI.
All of these roles are leadership positions.
1) Participation Director – Help us grow the membership
2) Paralympic Director – Help us attract more para players and put resources in place for development and integration with clubs.
3) Child Protection Officer – continue the good work of the outgoing officer in this critical area
4) Company Secretary – As well as standard Company Secretary tasks, help us to improve our governance and compliance
5) Chief Technology Officer – We need your technical skills and vision to help us implement our digital strategy
If anyone wants to discuss any of these roles with me – please send an email to [email protected]