Hon Secretaries Report 2011-12
SECRETARY’S REPORT 2011-12
For the first time in over twenty years the Association made the news pages of the Leicester Mercury. An article on page 4 showed a rather forlorn-looking schoolboy footballer, together with football and goalpost, but no team. The news article related to the financial difficulties of the Association following the significant reduction in grant aid from Leicester-Shire & Rutland Sport. For the record, the story is as follows:
Every summer I apply for a grant. The result of this grant is usually known in the early autumn. However, this year there was no news until mid/late January. By this time the Association had already spent a considerable amount of money supporting its talented players in the county representative teams. The news of the reduction of grant aid meant that the Association now had very little income. Consequently the “plug had to be pulled” on the representative teams – especially the u15s, who were just about to embark on their programme of fixtures. This is the story that appeared in the press.
A number of meetings have be held since the news broke. Leicester City FC seem keen to help and further meetings are planned. Also, the Association has received a gift from a local charity – sufficient for one further year. There is still plenty to run on this episode in the Association’s history – but one thing is for certain – we must reduce our expenditure in these harsh financial times. Some cost cutting ideas have been put forward by interested parties and these must now be put into action.
One idea to reduce costs was to play some, or all, of our cup finals at County Hall. This would be less expensive than hiring the pitches at the University. However, the pitch at County Hall became unplayable after the wettest April on record. So back to the University.
The organisation of our events has been greatly helped by a grant from ESFA to enable the Association to set up its own website. It has certainly helped keep everyone in touch and has highlighted the work of the Association. It has also made my fax machine redundant! The use of electronic communication has certainly helped in the last year or two, and the amount of paper being used has reduced considerably. The operation of the website has been a steep learning curve for me – but practise makes perfect as they say (well, almost perfect, as I must own up to a few blunders, when the designer has had to come to the rescue!)
It wasn’t the best of seasons for our county representative teams, with both the boys and girls being knocked out of national competitions at the first hurdle. Results in the Midlands competitions were mixed, with early successes followed by heavy defeats later.
County competitions ran well, with only one event running late. Holding the two u19 finals early in the season (December) has helped since these competitions have quite small entries. As an experiment the u15 final was brought forward to March – and again, successful. Why wait till April or May?
A number of changes are in the pipeline. The coming season will see the end of 11 v 11 football for Year 7s. This change is the result of an investigation by the Football Association into youth football, which will see a progression (in two year age bands) from 5 v 5 at Year 2 to 11 v 11 from Year 8. For our secondary schools this change puts the Year 7s out on a limb as they will be the only age group requiring 9 v 9 facilities. Will our schools be able to finance such a change – just for one year group.
The other change in the pipeline (it’s actually underway) is the change of status of our schools into academies. Will this have any impact on our finances (or source of finance)?
Relationship with the County FA is positive, with a good, friendly relationship between the two organisations. In the spring of every year I have to submit a County Schools Development Plan to the County FA. This plan is a summary of all the schools’ football activities (in all age groups) in the county. Our grant from ESFA is dependent on the Plan being countersigned by the County FA. The two Associations continue to work together on discipline issues.
No season would be complete without a mention of “Dominoes”. The Rice Bowl was supported by Dominoes Toys (66 High Street, Leicester) for the fifteenth successive year. A big “thank you” to Steven Sansome, Chairman of Dominoes Toys.
As in many previous reports, I offer my thanks to colleagues that have supported the work of the Association. But to repeat a worry, it is disappointing that numbers on our Council are getting smaller and smaller. The Association desperately needs new personnel to help the smooth running of schools football.
S. J. ABSON