BAFA - It’s a New Dawn for Britball
The 2020 season was set to be a break-out year and a ”New Dawn” for British American Football. With its first paid chief executive, Pete Ackerley, in place, along with a new board, plans were afoot to drive the game forward in a dynamic way. That was until a certain virus appeared on the scene. Despite the numerous challenges that covid 19 has presented, the BAFA board has continued to develop their plans and get the required framework in place to help them deliver their 10-year strategy.
The recent virtual BAFA AGM and Q&A session gave interested parties (I was one) the opportunity to hear what plans the BAFA board have in place for the coming months and years. They also gave us the opportunity to question CEO Pete Ackerley on some pertinent topics. Here’s what we learned.
Hi Pete, how do you feel the meetings went?
“First I want to say thank you to everyone who participated. The Q&A was a great opportunity for me to connect with lots of different people across the British American football community and answer questions directly. It was also hugely encouraging to have such fantastic engagement in what we’re doing as a National Governing Body and another reminder of the passion that exists within our sport. While there’s no substitute for meeting in person, holding the session virtually worked well on a number of levels, and gave people from different parts of the country a chance to take part. Overall, I thought the meetings were really positive and productive”.
A long standing concern in the Britball community has been a perceived lack of transparency from the people running BAFA, how would you respond to that?
“Indeed, one theme I noticed running through many of the comments and questions was transparency. I hope the publication of our inaugural Annual Report and the Q&A session, highlight how I want us to be more transparent and open. We can certainly continue to improve on this, but I believe we’ve taken a positive step forward in this direction. And I feel a real sense of constructive and upbeat energy, as we all pull together to continue growing our sport. I know some questions were not answered in full during the meeting, and I want to stress that outstanding queries are being followed up individually and collectively and please do not think you have to wait for sessions like this to get in touch with me either. I’m always available to hear your views”.
You spoke about a 10-year vision, could you give us some more detail on that?
“During the Q&A session I presented my 10-year vision for professionalising British American football and inspiring people to play. There are four key objectives that I want us to work towards over the next 10 years, and these are:
Play & Participate
Flag football development strategy
Women’s football – playing and growth strategy
GB National Football League strategy
Schools, colleges and youth strategy
University participation and play strategy
Play Your Part – People Strategy
Coaching strategy – quality and quantity
Referee strategy – quality and quantity
Science and medicine staff support strategy
Apprenticeships engagement plan
Place to Play
Club development strategy
Club accreditation process
Facilities development and access strategy
National Centre for British American football
Inclusive game for all
Playing Pathway to Performance
Long term athlete development plan
GB teams strategy
CFL and NFL partnerships – player pathways
Talent development support plans
Academies development plan
I’ve had really encouraging feedback on these key themes, which I firmly believe are the areas we must focus on as a sport. I want BAFA to be a progressive, responsive, inclusive and driven governing body, where people enjoy being part of the game. In support of this 10-year vision, I’ve already received a number of messages from people wanting to help BAFA and volunteer their expertise and time. This is fantastic to hear, and I encourage anyone who wants to contribute to the growth of British American football to get in touch to see how you might be able to support the organisation. I look forward with great optimism to the coming 12 months, and taking the first steps towards delivering our 10-year vision for British American football”.
It sounds like a good plan, but the BAFA board won’t be able to deliver it without the enthusiastic participation and engagement of the wider Britball community. Whatever they do, there will always be those who don’t share their vision or disagree with their stance on certain issues. Collaboration and compromise will be required for the greater good of the game. I for one will be looking to do my part, I’d encourage you to do the same.