After the AGM, an Open Forum was held, with discussion on a variety of topics relating to the current state of softball in Australia and potential changes to develop the sport in the future.
The agenda for the Open Forum came out of recommendations from the Presidents’ Commission, which posed questions about structural models and making best use of current resources.
Where do we see softball in the next five to 10 years? How do we make it sustainable and build capacity? And what are the potential resource and structural models that could be used?
The different framework models came out of discussion papers that the Australian Sports Commission had put together for all sports 10 months earlier.
The ASC received a lot of interesting feedback, which led to a refined position that involved a paper on governance reform that softened its previous approach about governance structures.
That came back more towards a federated model, but a plan to move towards a united or “one sport” model that’s aligned strategically and operationally with the Member States.
One of the difficulties is that there have been no successful case studies outside the federated model. There have been hybrids, such as in triathlon, where all their finances from every state body are under one financial management package.
The Forum opened discussion on where we want to see softball in the next few years.
The outcome of that was that everyone agreed that changes are needed, and the speed of change needs to be accelerated. But what that change looks like is yet to be determined. Change could take many different facets.
It was agreed that we must look at ways to allocate our limited resources to ensure we get the best outcomes as outlined in the Strategic Plan.
In the current sporting climate, a lot more emphasis is being put on female sports. It was agreed that softball must either step up and start moving in the commercial space or stay where it is or worse, decline.
Now that softball is back in the Olympic Games for Tokyo 2020, that should be an advantage. What we didn’t do the first time around in 1996 is leverage off the Olympic opportunity. We now have this opportunity again, so we must take advantage of it.
State Executive Officers responded to the Open Forum by agreeing on the need for change. But they don’t believe softball’s overall governance model needs a major overhaul. Rather, the challenge is to deploy resources that will build capacity at grassroots level.
The Presidents’ Commission plans to form a working party to investigate options over the next three or four months. The working party will be made up of people from inside and outside softball to look at the best direction for the sport going forward.