“I will be writing a letter to all current, ex & archived members showcasing the diverse rugby offering we now have at Kingswood RFC”
Derek Golding - Chairman
For Those Who Don’t Know Me...
I joined Kingswood RFC in 1983 as a 13 year old junior, under the coaching guidance of Chris Cooper. I made my 1st XV debut at 17, and at 21, I started to get involved with the committee by becoming Social Secretary and organising the clubs first tour for several years. At 28 I became Club Captain and proudly led the club on the field for 2 seasons. I had a few more years in the 1's until standing for 2nd XV Captain in the hope of helping the progression of upcoming players through a quality selection process. Eventually, injuries caught up with me and I stopped playing. I then became involved with the junior set-up that John Hunter was running and since then have worked hard to ensure we have a thriving youth set-up to secure a long term future for Kingswood RFC.
Why do I feel the Chairman Role is right for me?
We are at a crucial point in the clubs history and never before have we had so much potential and a genuine long term goal to achieve something truly amazing. The next few years are extremely important for the junior to adult transition, and for the redevelopment project. We need to get the playing structure & logistics right in advance of this happening, rather than wait until we have a load of young men & women ready to play senior rugby in a club that is not ready for them.
A lot of hard work has gone on in recent years by the committee and the back office structure is in place and working very well. We are running as a business and this will be really important as we continue to grow. We have now positioned a Director of Rugby for each section, which will allow for equal input at committee level and their independent needs & views. Each DoR will have relevant sub committees where those needs & views can be discussed.
As part of our ongoing growth, I will introduce a Transition Team which will have the very important job of ensuring the move for Colts to Adult rugby is managed correctly and with the needs of the players at the forefront of selection. Studies have shown that not all 17 year olds are ready for senior rugby and it’s not just a case of having the parent’s & coaches’ permission, but consideration to the player being physically and mentally ready for the adult game is crucial to the player’s longevity in the game. The Transition Team will also consider appropriate fixtures, length of time for the player’s debut and post debut assessment before a second senior game is proposed.
I also want to utilise the vast & talented resource of our volunteers more by reinvigorating the input to the committee from other roles. We have a Safeguarding Officer, Coaching Coordinator, Sponsorship Manager and Disciplinary Manager, to name but a few, and these people will be invited along when appropriate to update the committee on their relevant roles and needs for the best of the club. I have asked the latter two people in these roles to enhance the work they do.
Several people have managed sponsorship in the past, but we've not had a Sponsorship Manager with the time to coordinate multiple volunteers, while also expanding & enhancing our offerings. Archie will be looking at tailored packages, involving sponsors on a more regular basis so they can see all aspects of the clubs rugby and inviting sponsors to special games & events (Jnr, Snr, Girls, Touch & Walking Rugby).
The Disciplinary Manager has historically only dealt with senior red cards, but Paul will enhance the role to help deal with any of the clubs discipline issues alongside the Safeguarding Officer, should they arise. Paul will not be at the coal face and can take a more balanced view on a situation, then offer advice to the Safeguarding Team. He will also take a much closer look at the RFU laws around discipline, yellow cards, etc, so he can advise if required.
Our 5 Year Plan
As with any successful strategy, we need to plan ahead. The plan can, and probably will, evolve, but it’s good to have an informed starting point. To that end, I have the following start and end in mind;
Year 1 - Introduction of Colts age group. Form the Transition Team. Develop the Girls Pathway. Begin Redevelopment.
Year 5 - Ongoing yearly Colts setup of u17 & u18 ages. Ongoing transition of those players into the senior game. Ladies Team in place and ongoing Girls to Ladies Pathway. Final stage of Redevelopment under completion.
Player Recruitment & Retention
This is the hottest topic for me. I will be writing a letter to all current, ex & archived members showcasing the diverse rugby offering we now have at Kingswood RFC. I will also be producing a "Catch All" flyer outlining the same. I have registered us to attend local events as a club, for example, ‘Fun in the Park’ on Sunday 11th June, where we will have a stall and be carrying out O2 Touch & Walking Rugby demos, plus Junior Tag Rugby demos. We will have flyers and a rugby target game for members of the public to take part in.
As for retaining young players, part of the problem is making them play when they are too young, which I have covered earlier with the Transition team. Another factor is common interests for a young adult joining an adult section. 18 year olds don’t want to be on a pitch or in a bar with a load of blokes the wrong side of 40. The biggest problem however, is young men and women being unable to continue playing rugby once they go into higher & further education from 17/18 years of age. The financial constraints on parents mean kids have to get jobs at evenings & weekends to support themselves and hence can’t train or play. Students don’t have much money, so struggle to pay annual & weekly subs on top of everything else.
So, in essence, the letter idea, flyer idea and advertising idea is nothing new, but just might engage a few ex or new players, but in order to develop as a young up & coming club, we need to retain our youth - 18 to 24 year olds is the target age group. Every club out there wants the same, so to help us achieve this over the competition, I want to form The Kingswood RFC Academy.
This isn’t an Academy in an Educational or professional rugby sense, but a leftfield/radical plan that will retain our juniors coming through on a long term basis and also aim to attract more 18 to 24 year olds on a short term/immediate basis next season.
The Academy will support player’s that are in full time education from the age of 18 to 24. Kingswood will provide FREE rugby to the students during that time. It will be funded by sponsorship & grants, so there is no reliance on the clubs finances and no affect on the remaining playing membership.
I will be contacting local Colleges, Universities and the Bristol DPP & CLF Programmes to promote The Kingswood Academy. We won't be in direct competition with them as we won't be looking for their Elite players, we would be targeting the students that are either looking to play additional rugby to their midweek syllabus on a dual registration basis, or the lads that aren't quite making the squad and rather than stop completely, they can come to us for free. I will also be offering to host games on the Uni's & College’s behalf and also joint training sessions with us in an attempt to further advertise our Academy and get the Kingswood name out there.
I have spoken in depth to the RFU and they like the Transition Team & Academy idea and as we are the only Grass Roots Club to be offering something like this, they are willing to support us from a financial and resource perspective.
I already have a few large & small companies interested in long term support of the Academy and, as an aside attraction for students, I am looking at companies that can provide evening or weekend work based around Rugby training and games. I am even looking at companies offering apprenticeships to the juniors coming up through our ranks. This could be quite a benefit to the companies as well, as they will know the kids have come through the junior section and had the clubs ethos & RFU Core Values instilled in them.
Another benefit to any company supporting the club and our Academy will be a trade section on our website. How many times do you see a Facebook post asking for recommendations of a good plumber, electrician, builder, etc. We will encourage all club members and their families & friends (many hundreds of people), to first check our website for the skills and that way our tradesmen get something back for their support of the club and the Academy.
If successful, it may take a couple of seasons before we really see the benefit, but we might just attract a few young players immediately and they might have a younger brother or sister for our juniors, or a Mum for the Touch team, a Dad for the 2nd XV and a Grandad for the Walking Rugby. If nothing else, it will get us recognised locally as a club with a forward thinking approach and hopefully turn a few heads and help us to lose that old stigma of not being able to progress players to their full potential.
I was asked the following question at the AGM:
"Once we have the new players, what will keep them here?"
This also covers the question as to why young players that aren’t students would want to join Kingswood over other local clubs in higher leagues. For me, the 2017/18 season is our 1 step backwards to take 2 forwards. It's our regroup year in prep to come back stronger than ever before. It's a chance for young players to join a club that can only go up. We have a thriving junior section that will be bursting onto the scene in the coming 2 seasons and it’s a chance for players to be part of a local phenomenon. No other club at our level in the country has the troops in training like we do, we will not stay at this level for long. We have the structure of a club in the National Leagues and all we need now are the players to buy into it, join us and enjoy the ride.
Updated 09:28 - 13 Jun 2017 by Alan Bell