Open Letter to Softball Ireland Membership

19 October 2018

To: Softball Ireland Membership

Re: Open Letter to Softball Ireland Membership

I am writing to you on behalf of the Softball Ireland Board in advance of the Softball Leinster and Softball Ireland AGMs to provide clarification on some matters, update on progress in 2018 and plans for 2019. We hope that this letter will be circulated to all Softball Ireland members.

The attached letter addresses the following key areas:

  • Clarification of the Role of the Governing Body and the Regions
  • Composition of the Softball Ireland Board
  • Communication
  • Irish Open Softball Tournament 2018
  • Future of Slow Pitch Working Group
  • Softball/Baseball Merger

As a board, we appreciate that we need to improve in a number of areas and our 2019 priorities are being developed to reflect these needs. However, we cannot do this without the support of our membership and most importantly, without volunteers.

As you will note below, the Board consists of three Executive members and representatives from the Regions and Fastpitch. These representatives have their own responsibilities and limited time to give to the national body. As the saying goes, we need you.

We would ask that you take a moment or two to read the attachment so that we may have a robust and positive discussion at the Softball Ireland AGM.

We have had great success on and off the diamond in 2018 and we look forward to sharing these with you at the Softball Ireland AGM, which will be held in ALSAA on November 17, 2018.

Yours in softball,

Colum Lavery on behalf of the Softball Ireland Board

President

Differentiation of the Role of the Governing Body and the Regions

Softball Ireland is the National Governing Body (NGB) of all variations of the sport in Ireland. As NGB, we are primarily responsible for constitutional governance, regulation, representing the sport at national and international level, strategic planning, management of national teams, organisation of national tournaments, and, most importantly, supporting our Regional Associations.

Softball Leinster and Softball Ulster are responsible for the growth, development and organisation of adult slow pitch softball in their respective regions. Softball Ireland recognises the regional ownership of the lead role in development (as requested by both the regions and the Softball Ireland membership) and have provided support upon request.

2018 Key Achievements

  • National Recognition
    • Negotiation of Softball/Baseball Merger
    • Softball Ireland elected to Olympic Federation of Ireland
  • National Tournaments
    • Brian Walshe Cup (Start of Season Blitz)
    • Irish Open Softball Tournament
    • Softball Ireland National Club Championships
    • Re-launch of Indoor Softball
  • International Participation
    • Men’s Slow Pitch European Championships
    • Co-ed Slow Pitch World Series of Softball (8th place finish)
    • Nomination of Umpire to ESF umpires’ school
    • Womens U19 Fastpitch European Championships (Silver medal)
    • Womens U22 Fastpitch European Championships (Bronze medal)
    • Dodder Softball Club & TNT participation at European Co-ed Super Cup
  • Coaching
    • Support of Softball Leinster open training days
    • Softball Skills day (October 20, 2018)
    • Franchise Agreement with BSUK for Coaching Programme
  • Media Saturation
    • Articles in on-line and print media
    • Tweet from the President of Ireland
    • Agreement for TG4/BBC documentary to film in 2018

Composition of Softball Ireland Board

The Softball Ireland Board currently consists of 7 volunteers: The President, Secretary and Treasurer, Independent member and representatives from Leinster, Ulster and Fastpitch. As you will no doubt appreciate, the primary focus of the Leinster, Ulster and Fastpitch members is their respective areas and to represent you, the member, at a National Level. After several months of a vacancy, Softball Ireland have welcomed the addition of Conor Sayles as Secretary in September, as he brings many years of softball experience and acumen to the Board.

Communication

We recognise that a key area for improvement is our communication with the membership. To this end, we created and advertised a new position – Voluntary Communications Officer – and hope to have the successful candidate in place prior to the 2018 AGM.

We intend to overhaul the website, increase our social media presence, develop a quarterly newsletter and provide a members’ summary from Board meetings. Softball Ireland (as NGB) is also dependent on the Regions and clubs to create additional media for us to share.

Further ideas are welcome from the membership. The Softball Ireland Board can be contacted by email (the president, treasurer and secretary e-mail addresses have not changed in 10 years), by phone or in person, and will always respond to queries.

Irish Open Softball Tournament 2018

The Softball Ireland Board would like to thank all members who completed the IOST survey and provided comments (the results were circulated and will be provided at the AGM). We agree that the tournament was not up to the desired standard, and will use our learnings and your feedback to make a step change improvement for next year.

We have advertised a new position – Competitions & Events Officer – to oversee national tournaments in 2019. Further we are delighted to confirm that Julie Trundle and Elaine Barr have volunteered for the IOST Committee, and will deliver the IOST with the Competitions & Events Officer, as a working group of the Board.

Future of Slow Pitch Working Group

On September 26th, Softball Ireland announced the creation of the Future of Slow Pitch Softball Working Group (previously named Slow Pitch Development Working Group) which will be chaired by external development and high-performance expert. We (Softball Ireland) wish to re-emphasise that the number one priority is Slow Pitch Softball in Ireland, and the creation of this Working Group is to allow Softball Ireland to work with Leinster, Ulster, Galway and Munster to undertake a SWOT analysis, identify realistic and attainable growth targets and what support the Regions wish Softball Ireland to provide.

Baseball Softball Ireland

One of the key challenges and time-consuming priorities for 2018 is the negotiation and agreement of an umbrella body merging Softball and Baseball. After a number of positive discussions held in good faith with Baseball Ireland over the last 14 months, a draft Memorandum of Understanding will be presented at the Annual General Meeting for your review.

Sport Ireland advised that, to apply for recognition, we must merge to align with our world governing body (WBSC). Sport Ireland recognition is a key priority for us, as membership allows us to apply for grants towards development officers, equipment, coaching and access to numerous training courses, and other resources reserved for members.

Additionally, as a member of Sport Ireland we can apply for land to build a centralised venue and home for Softball in Ireland. In the history of our sport, this may well become a defining moment.

Softball Ireland Coaching Programme

Softball Ireland have entered into an agreement to franchise the BSUK coaching programme. Early 2019 will see Regional Coaching trainers and coordinators appointed with a view to rolling out the programme before the 2019 season. There will be three levels with the intention being every team in Ireland will have at least one level one qualified coach by April 2019.