2014 was my first year as Chairman following the previous four years as Treasurer, and while I’m extremely proud of being part of the best football club in New Zealand I have to admit it’s not easy trying to make everything click.
From a footballing point of view it was a mixed bag. A tough season in the men’s section, a mixed bag with the youth teams, a year of re-establishing in the junior ranks but a great year as far as the women were concerned.
People get critical that we could do more – but lets not forget what we have achieved:
- Approx 600 juniors out playing the best game in the world each Saturday
- 150 juniors in the first kicks program plus 7th and 8th grade (all the teams at Maidstone on a Saturday morning)
- 29 junior coaches completed their next level coaching courses
- Continuation of the Director of Coaching programme
- A continuation of the coaching in schools – but this year added the after school programme
- Completed the summer and winter club academy
- Continuation of a great working relationship with sponsors including Upper Hutt Car Sales and Rimutaka Licensing Trust
- The Professionals coming on board as a sponsor of the junior teams
- 24 junior players have made Federation squads – one of the highest numbers ever
- 2 teams in the youth U17 competition
- 6 teams in the McCartney Taupo Tournament – with the 11th grade coming second, the 9th winning their competition and the u15 boys winning for a second straight year.
- The U19 men’s team competing in the National Tournament in Napier
- U17 women’s team representing the club in the Auckland Tournament
- 4 teams in the Girls Only Summer Leagues – U17’s only losing one game and the U14’s remain unbeaten
- School Holiday program
- A continuation of the pathway for our woman into Central League football
- A newly formed pathway to the National Youth League through the club’s recent alliance with Heartland Wairarapa
- Plus a whole host of other unseen activity that just keeps the club running.
So while we had an unbelievable year in 2013, these successes show 2014 wasn’t too bad either.
But the true strength of any club is not judged over just one or two seasons, it’s measured over many more than that.
So how do we measure the strength of Upper Hutt City Football?
Here are the 6 elements that I think are at the heart of the best amateur clubs in the world and my view on how we rank:
Financial Stability – a pass mark but with real risk. Through the outstanding work of Phil (Gorman) and others, Upper Hutt has one of the strongest pools of sponsors of any sports code in Wellington. Which is becoming more and more important as trust funding becomes difficult to obtain. So if there is one plea I can make tonight it’s please help leverage the relationship with the businesses you know. Every little bit of sponsorship counts.
Facilities – probably goes without saying – we are the envy of many clubs. The only challenge I see is, as turfs become more popular with other codes, making sure we gain enough turf time that makes this a full time home ground, not a part time one.
Success on the pitch – As I mentioned earlier, having worked so hard to achieve Central League status with the men in 2012 unfortunately we were relegated this year. On a brighter note, the women who found the going a little tough in their first year of Central League made every post a winner this year. Well done to Wendi and the rest of the team. I would also like to recognise Wendi for being inducted into the Wellington Football Hall of Fame. Wendi is the first representative from our club to achieve this honour. From a junior point of view another year of embedding the Whole of Football program but the committee have done a great job of embracing the changes that come with it. This combined with the numbers coming through onto the U15, U17 and U19, men’s and women’s teams promises a bright future.
Governance & Communication – this is an area where we always feel we could do better – but in reality I believe it’s about right. The governance structure with one committee and the specialist committees serving the needs of the juniors, mens, women’s and other specific areas I believe is the right one. The website has undergone a refresh and our Facebook page is one of the most liked, or if not the most liked, football page amongst Wellington clubs. If there is one thing we could do to improve the governance structure – its addressing the bigger issues I see in the volunteer space – see below.
Club Spirit – This is always great when teams are winning, but the real test is when the going gets tough. As long as we continue with having a mix of senior players spread throughout the teams, nurturing the junior players coming through – Upper Hutt City Football will be as strong as ever. The piece that needs a continual tweaking is the management of turf to ensure we continue to make Maidstone Park the home of football. We are extremely fortunate to have this great facility as it means football is played at our home ground in front of out own clubrooms and some clubs are struggling with the impact turf is having on their traditional Saturday afternoon. After the first season we made some tweaks to the timing of games and this season we will make more. This is a learning process but the objective is right – get as many teams playing at home and let’s keep this clubrooms a hub for the community.
Volunteer Base (which includes getting the right people with the right skills, focussed on the right things) – This is the area that causes me the most concern. I worry we continue to rely on too few people to do more and more. Many of the achievements I listed earlier are the result of a great idea and someone with a passion, rolling their sleeves up and getting it done. But too often it’s the same people which continues to spread their time, wears them out and risks losing them to the club. It also means they have less time to focus on the areas that are aligned to their skill set so dilutes the impact they can make. A challenge I see for the incoming committee is to find a group of ‘football angels’ – people who may not want to join a committee but are willing to help at a club level – and are reliable!!
This pool of resource added to the existing governance structure would make the club even more effective.
So to summarise – I see the committee often beating itself up because it wants to do more – in reality we already do an enormous amount to support our players with a wide variety of initiatives. But if members do want to do more – we need to find a way to tap into the 1,500+ players and supporters who can help carry the load so we don’t tire out the existing core of people.
I would suggest the incoming committee perhaps use these 6 areas of focus as a yard stick for the structure and initiatives being planned for the coming year.
Well done to everyone for 2014 and let’s look forward to 2015.
Upper Hutt City Football