Paperwork at the ready, Wychelm members get down to business at our club AGM
By Katie Garner
Widely known as not the most exciting activity in the planet, annual general meetings usually result in a resigned groan from the people present who have to don rackets, or in vastly reduced numbers, as people try and avoid essential club business that presides over the courts for a short time. However you may view AGM’s, they are incredibly useful at sharing news, updates and ideas about club life – the club that you have paid to join and that you attend weekly for best part of the year. It is the ideal opportunity to air inklings, ask questions and have your say in how your club is run. For Wychelm BC, this year was no different to normal with club secretary Frank trying to rocket charge his humble biro in an attempt to get down all the minutes, treasurer Mike cracking jokes about oversees embezzling, and me wishing I had one of those really handy gavels to save me echo shouting at everyone to shut up.
This year’s AGM had really productive undertones, as numerous ideas were batted around and toyed with, giving those of us on the committee plenty to think about and report back on. Firstly, men’s doubles squad player Gary raised the idea of running a trial with feather shuttles for general club usage. Playing with feathers is a theme that arises every year, with many people standing firmly on either side of the line. On the one side is the worry about increasing costs (one of our bonuses is an incredibly cheap membership fee) and changing the face of our friendly club. On the other are concerns about keeping up with other local league clubs and the belief that using feathers would help improve our play and keep us more match ready in league season. Despite this issue cropping up regularly, the thought of a trial as never occurred to us, so this is definitely an interesting idea that as a committee, we need to explore – especially with regards to costs. We do have extra monies in the kitty, so it is on the cards to fund a trial period, which in turn would be useful for generating data that we can use when considering costs. It is still unsure how long we would run a trial period, but a majority show of hands indicated that most members approve of the notion.
Barry also raised the question of how many squads we would be entering into the league matches next season. Last season was the first time we had the baffling situation of having more men put their names down for the doubles then we had spaces in the squad. With this in mind, it may be worth putting in two teams next season, if we get the same number of committed players who want to represent us. This one is always quite tricky to navigate however, for example, injuries have completely plagued our squad in these final few weeks which has made it near impossible to get a team out. If this happened again next season, then our supply of reserves would be depleted as they would undoubtedly be in the second team. It also raises the issue of commitment – it’s all very well and good thinking you like the idea of playing in matches, but it is time consuming and I’m not going to lie about that. You can have two matches in the same week, especially if you are in more than one team, or matches every week for a couple of weeks at different venues. You have to be dedicated so don’t sign up flippantly. With regard to the mixed, the problem with numerous teams here is always going to be the lack of women, especially ones who want to regularly play matches, or are available to play matches. This is something we will have to wait to decide on, as it really depends on how many and who signs up.
One biggie that needed to be discussed thoroughly was the venue for our home matches. The season played at Royal Liberty has been a complete shocker – not only have we been locked out on numerous occasions, cancelled on at the last minute and had to re-arrange more matches because of the shambolic school organisation, but the quality of the facilities is also incredibly poor. The floor is inch thick with dust, ventilation systems and basketball hoops visibly block the two end courts, putting them out of action, and the multi-purpose eight foot poles affect the play. To be blunt, we can’t wait to stop playing there. This though presents us with the dilemma of finding another venue. Squad players pumped for a return to Frances Bardsley, our shiny five courts gleaming with TLC. It was decided to investigate what other nights the school could possibly hire the sports hall out to us for, although Kay also had the great suggestion of having matches back on a Monday, but hiring the hall until 10pm, to give regular club players the chance to still play as many games as they want. If none of this is viable, then we would have to look into a second venue again, with Hall Mead and Abbs Cross looking like good possibilities. Primary school teacher Stuart E has plenty of caretaker connections, so is going to do some digging for us to see if there are any other possible locations we could have overlooked.
Like a breath of fresh air, it had reached that point in the meeting where committee roles had to be discussed. As a rule at Wychelm, no committee member is allowed to hold their post for more than three consecutive terms to allow for a fair rotation among members who would like to try their hand at the positions. The current committee had all started at the same time, and so for all of us, our three years were numbered. Frank however didn’t get out of it, as he swiftly moved from his previous post of Club Secretary into Match Secretary – a role he has been tinkering with since our original Match Secretary deserted the club before the season began. This left Club Secretary up for grabs and Stuart E bravely put himself forward, once he discovered the role mainly required filling out paperwork. Mike S handed over the receipt slips and account book to new member Nick Lyne, who has equally thrown himself into club life with a supportive aplomb which I love to see. I was overjoyed to see the rule book stomped on when I was asked to continue on as Captain for a fourth term, due to my obvious enjoyment and passion for the role (read good at nagging, general bossiness and organising a booze up).
For me, being Captain is more than just being a club figurehead and decision maker. It’s about encouraging and nurturing the valuable and concrete feelings of community and friendship that continue to flourish on and off court. Creating the Wychelm spirit, and maintaining our reputation as a friendly, supportive team is just as important as dictating fees and hall hire. With this in mind, I once again urge members to join our Facebook group, where I always put up photos from club socials, post event notices for the club socials and also regularly report back on match results and general notices. It’s a fantastic forum for staying in touch and keeping abreast of new club information, so don’t scorn and sneer just because it’s social media – whatever fad you may feel it is, it serves a purpose and it serves it very well. The same with this blog – it’s another interesting way to keep in touch with members and provide you with something entertaining to read and enjoy. The blog has also proved a useful tool in attracting new members, which is something every club needs to rate highly if their club is to continue to thrive. In the AGM, I expressed my desire to have a club social every month, or at least every other month and once again, these are for your enjoyment and benefit, and if you make the effort to attend, you will be pleasantly surprised by how much fun you have. We are more than just badminton players – we are a community and we are friends and that is something I am keen to continue bringing to the fore, along with our shared love of badminton and competition.
Frank delivered the match results, which this season seemed to be rather a mixed bag. With regards to the ladies divisions, Jess and I have been playing in Division One along with four other pairs. We actually achieved our best result to date by coming second, securing our spot in the top division. Our B Pair in Division Two consisted of the very lovely Liane and detective Sam, who came fifth. Our Men’s Doubles squad, who have now fallen apart quite literally with injuries, still racked up a great result in Division Four, coming in bronze medal third place, which is a great improvement. Last AGM, I spoke about my desire to shake up the Men’s Squad as a lack of commitment lead to lacklustre games and lateness that I was beginning to find inexcusable compared to the energy and drive of the other squads. With this in mind, I chose a brand new squad for this season and they have performed spectacularly well, so really sincere congrats to the guys for putting their best foot forward and delivering. From my match analysis over the past months, I am sure you are well versed in the woes of the Mixed Doubles floundering away in Division One, after we moved up from our Division Two win. Needless to say, we ranked fifth and will more than likely be moving back to Division Two, where hopefully we can crank up a gear and one again prove our metal. For people who wish to get involved in matches, Frank will be going around with his trusty clipboard over the next few weeks with his sign-up sheet, so please make sure you tick your name off if you would be interested.
Mike’s treasurer’s report showed that the club are still in profit, with a ring fenced amount that we deliberately save to cover hall hire over the summer months – a rare bonus of playing at Frances Bardsley. With the bank balance sitting tidy, there were no complaints over monetary matters.
An hour later and we were all done and dusted with sitting around nattering, and hopefully we can move forward with the ideas discussed and put some of them into action for the new season. We’ll keep you posted of any developments, but in the meantime, if any members have something they want to raise that they didn’t want to say in front of the whole club, please feel free to approach a committee member and express your views – everyone deserves to be listened to and we want to accommodate as many people’s requirements and wishes as possible. Thanks to everyone who attended.