Working on behalf of the basketball community and affiliated clubs and Associations, Auckland Basketball Services Limited (ABSL) has long recognised the need for change in the way the game is delivered in the wider Auckland region, with the Board and management team working towards changing the way the game is accessed and played by the wider community.
That plan is about to gain significant momentum, with Counties Manukau, Waitakere West Auckland and Basketball Auckland Associations uniting in driving a shared vision to be implemented by ABSL.
ABSL Board Chair Simon Whyte is at the forefront of the overhaul and says it is vital that the sport enjoys a stronger platform for all to enjoy the benefits of participation, from school students to adult social players.
“Historically the model has not provided consistent delivery or enabled everyone suitable access to play the game. Our recent growth has almost happened despite the system, rather than because of it. It is partly thanks to the dedication and many hours of paid and unpaid work from a group of diehard basketball people that the game has coped with that increase in demand, but we must now recognised the time is right for change.
“It is time to introduce a new governance model, one that will be financially secure and provide clear pathways for all to participate and grow in the sport, be they players, coaches, administrators, referees or volunteers.”
The new structure will see ABSL streamline many of the operational roles required to keep the Associations afloat, and to have that in turn enable an active and healthy club-based delivery of basketball services into the community, including competitions for all age groups.
The new strategic plan has identified three core focus areas for ABSL to lead in partnership with its member associations, clubs, and schools:
Community Division - greater participation (Tamariki to adults)
Development Division – better basketball (players, officials, volunteers)
Services Division – better smarter service and support (for everyone)
To deliver on these goals, the model must change to provide stronger governance, improved transparency and more accountability. The goal is to get better decision making in the interests of basketball and greater alignment and teamwork with the stakeholder group and wider basketball community.
The new Board will consist of 7 Directors, with representation from each of the three member associations and 4 independent Directors elected by the shareholders. The Board will have the capacity to change and reflect the addition of more Associations when that might occur in the future.
The recent COVID-19 lockdown threatened to undermine much of the planning and recent hard work, with the sudden and complete cessation of all basketball activity (for what was at the time an unknown length of time) resulting in all previous roles being made redundant.
Since lockdown however, 7 staff have been re-engaged or employed in key roles under the new structure, with the appointment of a transitionary General Manager to oversee the change expected to be confirmed in the next 7 to 10 days.
“The Board is nearing the end of our discussions with a preferred candidate and expect to finalise details and make an announcement next week,” said Whyte. “The transitionary GM role will likely be on a six-month term, with an emphasis on implementing the new governance structure and strategic plan, once that work is complete a permanent GM will be sought to continue that work and further grow and develop the game.”
Further to that appointment, ABSL is currently advertising for a new role of Manager, Community Basketball. Reporting into the General Manager of ABSL, the primary focus of this position is the sustainable creation and development of ABSL owned and operated Clubs across all stakeholder regions and the engagement and participation of independent clubs into ABSL programmes, events, and leagues. This will include the development of a Community Growth Strategy and overseeing the implementation of local and regional Club strategies with the aim of driving engagement and growing participation in quality basketball for all local communities.
Whyte emphasises that the desire of ABSL moving forward is to engage with all Associations and clubs, regardless of affiliations.
“Obviously having all Associations and clubs affiliated to ABSL is the goal, but we are also acutely aware of the need to engage in meaningful dialogue and to have a structure that welcomes input and ultimately participation from everyone, ensuring access to our services, leagues and representative competitions.”
Key outcomes of the new strategy that will clearly be visible in the basketball community are:
Investment in referees, venue managers, community coaches and volunteers to support delivery of community programmes
Investment in technology to better support operations of ABSL and member Associations and Clubs (including a new health and safety programme already being rolled out)
Establish a sustainable network of ABSL Clubs (10 to 15) to support and drive the growth and playing of the game, affiliated to the local Association with strong ties to the community and the existing representative programme.
Those clubs will work alongside independent clubs to form a viable and sustainable Auckland Club League, one that enables players to join their local club from primary school age to well after high school.
The three member Associations are all fully committed to the restructure and new governance model, one that will not only deliver better results for their communities, but offer improved transparency, communication, conflict resolution and access to basketball services at all levels of the sport.
Georgie Witehira, Chair, Counties-Manukau Basketball
Counties-Manukau Basketball is committed to the new structure which provides for a stronger governance enabling more effective oversight to execute the strategy supporting basketball to meet its potential as being a major sport in the Auckland region. The Association Forum provides increased opportunity for more direct input into programmes and activities at the grass roots level. The Club Programme will provide a greater opportunity to capture the growing number wanting to participate in basketball at all levels in the South and across Auckland. Strengthening of the Club Programme will provide a platform for increased participation and development of our volunteers and in turn will increase community involvement in the game.
Chris Ford, Chair, Basketball Auckland:
Basketball Auckland is excited about the opportunities on front of ABSL as it emerges from the enforced lockdown this year. Basketball Auckland remains committed to the ongoing development of ABSL into a regional delivery platform for Basketball across Auckland. Now more than ever the benefits from regional coordination and shared services are needed. The objectives and strategy stay the same but the increased focus on growing participation at the grassroots and club level will be the difference going forward. In time this will have a huge payoff for everyone involved in the game from volunteers, coaches, referees and players.
Ollie Bryce, Chair, Waitakere West Auckland Basketball
As one Association, we can only grow to a certain extent and the collaboration with others is a great step to streamline our operation and take advantage of the shared services offered through ABSL, the benefits of that are huge. With the new look governance and long-term view it is important to cater for the growth of the game and part of that is using prior experience as to what works and what doesn’t work, we all have to be big enough to learn from our past mistakes and put those learnings into the game going forward. We join our fellow associations in the hope and indeed our expectation that this new model will be successful and look forward to a prosperous future for the game at all levels.
For further background on the news below, CLICK HERE to see the presentation made by ABSL to each of the three Association Boards.
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