Monthly Members Blog – July 2020

Welcome to the first of my monthly members’ blogs providing a current update to you on British Dodgeball that I hope will give you as members an understanding of the work we do at British Dodgeball throughout the year.

First of all I would like to thank you for your continued support of the organisation and the sport and I wish everyone well at the moment in what continues to be such a challenging time. Sport and physical activity plays a major role for people’s health and wellbeing and it has been such an unprecedented and unexpected time since March to have all our dodgeball activity come to an abrupt halt.

In total British Dodgeball has been forced to cancel over 200 events, sessions and courses that have equated to an estimated £70,000+ in lost income. As I am sure you can imagine as a non-funded non-profit organisation this time has been extremely challenging and prioritising the future survival of the company and the sport has been paramount. In order to survive we have been successful in receiving Sport England funding to pay our overheads for 6 months, all our full time staff were placed on the government’s job retention scheme until the end of the summer and we have done what we can to reduce overheads. I am confident however that there is light at the end of the tunnel and we as a sport can return in a strong position and continue to develop.

Personally I have been working as much as possible throughout lockdown with the ongoing distractions of home-schooling my 3 children and my wife’s self-employed yoga business reacting to the challenges of having to move online. But I am not going to complain as I certainly feel there are some aspects of lockdown to take learnings from, such as a better work-life balance and a better understanding of the challenges faced by different areas of society. The Black Lives Matter Movement that has been and still is taking place during lockdown is a fantastic advocate for bringing issues faced by many to the forefront of our minds. I am pleased that our Diversity Committee has been formed from club members and work is underway on our Diversity Action Plan to ensure a more diverse and inclusive future of dodgeball in the U.K.

As a sport we are continuing to progress towards a return to play this summer and hope that we can work with the DCMS to be able to provide our member clubs with details of how to get back to playing as quickly and as safely as possible. One thing that I do want to ensure you of though is that we are prioritising the return of your clubs sessions above any competitions and leagues. Ensuring players return to their club environment safely and are able to get back into training and playing after a long period comes first before we can start competitive events.

We continue to welcome responses from our member clubs in relation to the National Leagues, the opinions are detailed and varied and I thank you for your time in completing these. We have many leagues across the U.K. and want to make the right decisions for each league and the teams competing in them. As a young sport with no contractual obligations to sponsors or otherwise we have not felt there is a requirement to rush the decision on the leagues and have only recently brought the junior leagues to a close knowing that they could not be completed prior to the end of the academic year.

I mentioned earlier that the British Dodgeball staff will be returning to work soon and this will coincide with a return to coaching in schools, a return to our coach education and a return to our project work in September. We have ongoing development projects in Burton, North and South Wales, Glasgow, Greater Manchester, Cumbria and have our Girls Dodge Too! project taking place in different locations across England so as always there will be plenty of development work happening.

During the lockdown you may have noticed a downturn in our social media output and this has been in part due to the limited staffing at British Dodgeball but also the decision of our previous Marketing and Media Director John Slemensek to step away and focus on the survival of his film and photography studio. I personally wish John all the best with his business and thank him for all his fantastic work at British Dodgeball since 2017. Once the sport is back up and running I look forward to inviting John as a freelance filmmaker and photographer to produce some more pieces of work on the sport. Next week we will begin recruiting a new part time social media officer to join the team at British Dodgeball this August.

A final couple of updates. We are looking forward to announcing the appointment of our new Director of National Teams in the next few weeks. For personal reasons during the lockdown the announcement has been on hold but I know from recent conversations they are eager to get to work once the sport returns. And also by the end of July I will be delighted to provide all members with a detailed End of Season Report for the 2019/20 season.

Thank you for taking the time to read and hope to see everyone back on court soon.

Ben Hoyle

Managing Director – British Dodgeball

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