Softball Far North Qld, affiliated with Softball Qld, capped off an amazing year by being crowned Homeplate Ladder association champions for 2017/18. The association triumphed in 1st place nationally, achieving Homeplate status for the second year in a row, amassing a record 160 points, including a 21% growth in membership.
Since moving into their new facility, Softball FNQ has hosted a number of big events. These include the Great Barrier Reef Masters Games and the 2017 Qld School Sport State Championship, and the 2018 School Sport Australia National Championship, which has contributed to meeting a key objective of the association in ‘raising the profile of softball in Far North Qld and increasing the number of participants and membership’. Softball FNQ also looks forward to hosting the Softball Queensland U19 Women’s State Championship in October.
Other strategies were implemented by the association which contributed to their huge growth in membership. These included promoting the association at Sports Expos, Gala Days, interschool sport days at local schools and the Cairns Biggest Sign On Day, and the successful delivery of Softball Australia’s National Participation programs Softball Batter Up and Social 7s. The decision to run these programs on the same day as a family package proved to be a very successful strategy in recruiting new juniors and adults. Association secretary Liz Fresser explained, “The programs enabled us to promote the social, family, friendly and fun side of softball. The Softball Batter Up Program ran from 4.30pm to 5.30pm with the Social 7s program commencing at 6.00pm. This allowed parents the convenience of only having to attend once per week.”
A strategic plan has also been an important tool for the association and has provided new committee members an understanding of the direction the association is heading, and how it will be achieved. The association has also implemented good governance and effective strategic and operational practices including an ongoing review and implementation of their operational plan, strategic plan, financial plan, policies and procedures as well as position descriptions and sub-committees for their volunteers.
Another important tool the association used to identify areas for improvement was the ASC Club Health Check survey. It identified three major areas to focus on, communication, planning and members. “Listening to members’ feedback, we successfully ran umpiring courses and through fundraising we were able to pay our new umpires, lessening the workload on members. We invited all association members to open planning meetings to ease the workload on committee volunteers and by commencing the implementation of members paying fees online at the time of registration also decreased the administration burden on volunteers,” said Liz.
The association is proud of their achievements, with the time they have invested and the learnings they have developed to become the professional entity they are today. “Achieving Homeplate Status for the second year in a row and finishing on top of the Homeplate Ladder in 2017/18 gives us a sense of satisfaction and achievement for the hours we have, over many years, put into volunteering. We are at present applying for a grant for a clubhouse where the framed certificates will be proudly hung on the walls. After 2 years of working with Softball Qld’s Association Coordinator, Karen Robe, it came time (at the programs finishing) for us to test how much we had learnt from her. By achieving Homeplate status again this year, and finishing on top of the ladder, it has showed us just how much we did learn,” said Liz
Congratulations to Softball Far North Qld, an extremely deserving recipient of Homeplate Ladder association champions.