We are 2 and a half months on from the AGM, so I thought it good timing to get an update out before the end of the year with how things have been going.
Hopefully for those who could make the AGM you found it a continued step towards full transparency and a more professionally run Federation. It went on longer than we planned (sorry for not having food... next year) but whilst there were some tough questions asked overall we found it really great to get everyone in a room together.
If you still haven't seen our first Annual Report you can download that HERE and this document includes a comprehensive review of the previous year, as well as our plans for the current one.
As per previous emails, to help align these updates with our overall strategy I will break the email down to some key notes on each initiative under our core Strategic Pillars of Community, Pathways and Federation.
We have had our 2 new Board Members Andrew and Brendan get up to speed quickly, and both have hit the ground running from the AGM and are really helping us deliver on what we need to.
But we also need to announce that Mervyn Hurley has tendered his resignation from the NZAFF Board effective immediately, due to personal reasons meaning he can't make the commitment to NZAFF he wants to.
Mervyn has been heavily involved in American Football for well over a decade in NZ in one way or another, and I would like to thank him for his efforts on the Board over the past 15 month. He has really helped us turn things around for the Sport and start to head in a more positive direction.
Given Mervyn's Board position was "appointed" we will be going back to the candidates who went through our Appointments Panel to look at filling this position in the New Year. The good news is we had some great applicants we had to turn down, so I am confident we will quickly get someone suitable to step in.
The NZAFF Coach Development Program (CDP) has now been live for 6 months and we are seeing some early encouraging signs with 18 Coaches registered, and 7 through the "online" course components and getting ready for review/ assessment with Paul Manera.
Whilst this is an OK start, we ultimately need you guys to do your bit and get your Regions and Clubs involved, and Coaches going through this course. The Sport needs great Coaches to grow, and from the Board's perspective from a Player Safety perspective this is a non-negotiable.
We have also recently launched a Flag Football Coach Development Program with 2 stages to cater for both entry level "community" Coaches just keen to learn the basics to start taking kids for the likes of ENDZONE, and those keen to progress further. We have 12 registered and 2 through Level 0 already so please spread the word around this and let's get people involved.
In October we held a very successful 2 day Officiating Workshop in Auckland, and brought Miles Newman of Australian Gridiron Officials Association (AGOA) over from Australia to run the Workshop. For the first event of its kind we were very happy with the fact 21 officials attended across the 2 days, and feedback has been really positive.
We currently have 23 Officials registered on our Officials Development Program and have 7 already into the formal AGOA content with 5 completed the accreditation. Again this is a pleasing start but it's critical you as Regions and Clubs help us get Officials on, and through, the program.
We announced at the AGM that we were trialling a Partnership with Kelly Sports to implement ENDZONE Flag Football in primary schools, and in Term 4 we successfully delivered our first program in Silverdale, North of Auckland. We have also secured funding to repeat this in Term 1 in Silverdale at 2 schools, as well as implement similar programs in Pukekohe and Kapiti Coast down in Central Region.
Whilst we hope to see continued growth with this Kelly Sports Partnership we are also looking to work with other delivery Partners, and are keen to put more focus on slightly older kids (Intermediate / early College) in areas we have NZAFF Clubs to help try and feed players into the game.
The feedback from the AGM was clear that funding was a critical area where you needed NZAFF help, so we are working on a "Best Practice" toolkit which we will distribute which will assist in securing funding, but also other key areas of running a Club from initial incorporation through to operational/ finance structures and marketing advice. We are likely to launch this with a 1 day workshop where we will invite all Clubs and Regions early next year, so watch this space.
We alluded to this at the AGM but Health and Safety has been a big focus for us recently and we have developed some "Player Safety" guidelines and structures which are currently with the Regions for review. Given the high contact nature of American Football we see this as something critical for our Federation to have in place, so we will be looking to get your feedback and buy-in on this in the New Year to keep our Players safe and the Sport growing.
Extending on from the feedback around funding challenges, access/ cost of American Football equipment is proving to be a big barrier for everyone. So we are undertaking a specific project to look at how NZAFF may be able to assist in this area, so should have an update on this by Feb next year. Our aim is to ensure that if we find a way we can assist this is in play well prior to the 2019/20 season.
Our main focus for the upcoming year around National Events is building on last year's Flag Event, and entries are now open for the 2019 Wellington Flag Football Invitational. This will be held March 22, 23 and 24 next year so it would be great to see as many teams entered, and Regions/ Clubs taking part as possible.
National Teams Strategy
One of the areas of feedback from the AGM was to have a more defined National Teams strategy, so we are working on this and will have something to share in early 2019. We know that for any International campaign to be even realistic, let alone successful, a lot of planning is needed so we are going to map out upcoming events, critical paths etc as the first stage to assessing the role for National Teams moving forward.
2019 Mens World Cup
Unfortunately the 2019 Mens World Cup which was to be held over the ditch in Australia has been postponed to 2023 due to the lack of teams willing to travel to attend, so this is a real pity for the Sport in our area of the World.
The 2023 tournament is potentially to still be held in Australia however, so with a strong lead time this makes a New Zealand qualification bid more realistic to consider. There are also U19 (soon shifting to U20) and Flag World Cup Events in the upcoming years, so we are confirming qualification paths for these events.
To develop Pathways for our Athletes, Coaches and Officials a strong Oceania is critical so we are really working hard on working closer with Australia with this common goal. We are also looking to leverage what they already have in play over there, which is evident in what we are doing in the areas of Coach and Officials Development.
Darrin Mitchell, Gridiron Australia's Chairman recently visited us and spent a Saturday at Mountfort Park in Auckland watching Football and spending time with the Board, and this was really valuable. We have a lot of common goals that we have a better chance of achieving together, so we are making positive steps forward in this area.
The AGM minutes have been circulated alongside the Annual Report, and we thank you all for taking part in the postal SGM to get the small accounting errors updated in our financial accounts. We hope the AGM progress in general was seen as much more open, professional and detailed than previous years but let us know if you have any feedback.
Mobile App to support the Sport
We have launched the first version of an NZAFF Mobile App, which we are keen to use to help promote the Sport and support the Regions by giving a central point to host draws, point tables etc. It is a bit of a work in progress and we will keep polishing up and adding content, but we think it is a decent starting point.
We have had over 325 downloads already which is great, but please keep spreading the word to get people downloading it as it is a key communication channel for us:
Half Year Report
As committed to at the AGM, to ensure there are no big surprises at the AGM we will pull together a summary "mid year" report and distribute by the end of February which will update on key progress vs Objectives, financial performance vs budget etc
Anyway, that's me for the year but on behalf of myself, Russell, Andrew, Brendan and Mervyn we wish everyone a great Christmas and Holiday Break and we hope your seasons have gone well around the Country.