2021 AGM – President’s Report

Years ago, basketball associations were reasonably simple entities able to be run by volunteers and part-time staff.

Today, basketball associations are multi-faceted businesses requiring strategic vision and focus across many areas. Running them requires a complex blend of paid and unpaid staff, catering to both the professional and amateur athlete across the full spectrum of abilities from entry-level to high performance.

Our Board over recent years has been guided by a strategic framework and I would like to present my report tonight in this structure.

Our club’s purpose and mission

  • We are a club that is passionate about providing our members with a great basketball experience.
  • We are a club that promotes togetherness, unity and the strength of our Redbacks community.
  • We seek to provide people with the opportunity to engage in basketball for life, and enjoy the physical, mental and social wellbeing benefits of that.

Our club’s values

  • Family
  • Community
  • Respect
  • Transparency
  • Process/equity/ fairness

The strategic framework we follow has the following seven pillars, all of which align with the Basketball WA strategic plan:

  1. Participation
  2. Facilities
  3. Competitions
  4. People
  5. Performance
  6. Community
  7. Governance

Each pillar of the framework has goals, measures and strategic focus that guides the board.

I will now briefly run through some key aspects of each pillar and how we delivered on that pillar in 2021.

Pillar 1: Participation

Participation is the seed of growth in our club and underpins all that we aim to achieve.

Participation rates are a key indicator of our ability to make basketball as a sport attractive and relevant to our local communities.

Our goal is to maximise participation numbers within the constraints of our resources.

This year we’ve achieved:

  • Record numbers in our Aussie Hoops program (Basketball Australia’s official junior development program for 5–10-year-olds)
  • Record numbers in our domestic competition with a 50% increase in the number of teams (we have actually maxed out our available court capacity and our domestic competition has a waitlist)
  • A doubling of our income in the area of basketball development programs (the participation arm of our club)

This huge growth in our participation numbers has been driven by the dedication of our team and their focus on these programs as well as the massive growth in basketball generally.

This growth has challenged our resources in every way, and it has been a huge effort from all involved.

A huge congratulations to our Operations Manager Michelle Fletcher for her passion and dedication to the participation programs. To grow when we simply don’t have the courts to grow with is remarkable!

Pillar 2: Facilities

It is safe to say we have made more progress in this area in 2021 than in any other year of our association.

The big goal: An 8-12 court facility

  • Our challenges here include:
  • Our proximity to the CBD and the scarcity of suitable and available land
  • The fact that our immediate need is for space for 8 courts with a future need for up to 12 courts
  • We operate over five LGAs and our club is too large for any of them to comprehend
  • The relationships required with different levels of government, education and stakeholders require a significant investment in time and resources
  • The huge capital cost of 20-30 million
  • The fact that we are at the mercy of politics and political cycles

Over the past six months we have had significant engagement with government at all levels. At the request of the state government, and in consultation with the Department of Sport and Department of Education, we are currently undertaking a significant feasibility study in conjunction with:

  • Basketball WA
  • Reds Volleyball
  • Kent Street High School
  • Como Secondary College

about where we could locate 12-16 courts in our area.

We have the full support of Geoff Baker (Member for South Perth) and Hannah Beazley (Member for Vic Park) and have had very productive meetings with the candidates for the federal seat of Swan as well as federal senators.

The work in this space has been frantic and I thank the members of our board for the work they have put in to allow our CEO Lyndon Brieffies and me to devote significant time to this.

Huge credit to Lyndon for the way he has kept gently pushing at every level and has been able to present the Perth Redbacks as a capable and credible sporting club with an immediate need for courts.

Wesley College

We are excited to be able to share some significant development with Wesley College.

They have recently made significant progress toward the building of a new state-of-the-art four-court facility at their school. Perth Redbacks will be their major partner regarding usage outside school hours.

This project was initiated by Lyndon when he was Head of Sport at Wesley College and Lyndon has remained on working groups and in close consultation with his former work colleagues as CEO of Redbacks.

The timeframe for this is anticipated for an early 2024 completion and provides an opportunity for relocation of some or all of our WABL and NBL1 activities.

In two seasons’ time, we will have access to a four-court facility for our high-performance programs. THAT IS HUGE!

Curtin University

There has been significant development in our relationship with Curtin University who we are supporting with regard to their entrance into the UBL national competition.

Curtin has committed to updating their courts to achieve the compliance needed to run NBL1 games and we are anticipating further discussions soon about access to their courts for feature NBL1 games in 2022.

Pillar 3: Competitions

Domestic

As mentioned earlier, our Domestic Competitions have experienced the most significant growth in the time I have been at the club (over 50%) and surpassed 200 teams (all played on Saturday).

The PBA staff and volunteers have been overwhelmed by this demand and have gone above and beyond to enable this to happen.

We recognise that this growth has come with challenges and the new Board elected tonight will be putting specific resources around communications and processes for our domestic clubs and competitions in the coming weeks.

Our aim is that every player parent coach and club has a great experience (even in the midst of such massive growth) and we look forward to continuing to elevate in 2022.

I would like to thank Paul Philpott, Michelle and Lyndon for their dedication and efforts during this extraordinary year.

WABL

In terms of team numbers (31 WABL teams), we are only behind Willetton, Perry Lakes and Warwick who all have access to 8-court facilities.

That said, as a club we do not measure our success on the number of teams we’re fielding, or even on the individual success of teams. Our success is measured in terms of team pride, team play and team attitude. We consider our WABL program to be successful if:

  • Our players are proud to play in Redbacks teams
  • Our families speak well about the club to each other and to others outside the club
  • Our coaches take pride in developing and championing the ‘Redbacks spirit’ approach to play.

On these measures, we continue to get stronger and stronger.

With Amien Sym moving into a new role on the Board as Vice President, WABL is in excellent hands with Kelly Exeter succeeding him as WABL Director. Kelly has set a standard amongst all WABL clubs for the processes and communication in our WABL program in 2021. We are grateful for the work she does in ensuring we all have a great experience.

NBL1

This year was the first ever season of SBL running under the NBL1 West banner.

This involved significant changes and investment in our program including game night infrastructure, staffing and sponsorship. The improvements made were significant and the effort it took to do so was also significant.

As far as performance goes, we were the only club that had both teams making the final four.

Our post-season review was the most professional I have seen in my time with extensive consultation and feedback from all participants in the program.

The feedback to our coaches was honest and the plans and changes for 2022 were agreed upon.

With Craig Allen deciding not to continue as Women’s NBL1 Head Coach, a thorough process was conducted to find his replacement. We were delighted to name Michelle Fletcher as his successor. She thoroughly deserves her opportunity as an NBL1 Head Coach and we are so excited to see what 2022 brings for her.

The most exciting thing for us as a club is that we have two NBL1 head coaches who are not just passionate about their respective teams, they are passionate about our club. Both coaches put the club first and continue to work closely at all levels, especially WABL, to deliver a great experience for the whole club.

It must also be said that the ongoing professionalism and dedication of NBL1 Director Nathan Barns has been outstanding. We are privileged to have someone like him working with the program, coaches, players and Lyndon to continually elevate the program.

Pillar 4: People

Redbacks first and foremost is a community. And our strength as a club is our people.

Some significant developments this year have been:

  • The appointment of Lyndon Brieffies as a full-time CEO to work with Michelle Fletcher and countless volunteers to manage our huge growth has been a great step forward.
  • This year we have also celebrated the amazing Sue Hosken as BWA WABL Volunteer of the Year.

There are so many people to thank and acknowledge for their contribution this year and I was able to cover many of these at our WABL breakfast where we had over 600 people celebrating the achievements in our club.

But I again want to thank every one of you for your commitment to making this year one of our best ever. Whether you were working on a committee, serving on the Board, cleaning down balls in between games, working in our canteen, assisting with registrations, supporting a coach or manager, or simply speaking positively about our club and having an uplifting conversation with your child in the car on the way home from a game, I thank you.

I especially want to thank the parents who bounce between venues for games and training and continue to stay positive as we wait for our shiny new stadium.

Pillar 5: Performance

We continue to invest in and develop our players, coaches, referees by defining pathways and developing through those pathways.

We continue to identify elite talent in each of these areas and ensure that they get developed and maximised. We also need to ensure that every participant has a great experience and can maximise their own abilities through their basketball journey.

The most significant improvement in this space this year has been a CEO with such a depth of basketball experience and knowledge that has been able to direct, encourage, coach and drive performance at all levels.

Whether talking to coaches at all levels, taking training sessions, strategising with the NBL1 program or doing individual workouts with NBL1 players, we are so fortunate to have Lyndon in our club.

Significant investments this year include Josh Wallace and Jeremy Fletcher both in development roles presenting an age-specific curriculum for domestic coaches.

We have also conducted regular coaching corners for all coaches discussing everything basketball and providing an opportunity for coaches to collaborate on their learning journey.

We have implemented a dedicated Strength and Conditioning program for WABL and NBL1 based on the LTAD program.

For 2022 we have employed Austin Clarke as a development officer to support our players and coaches at many levels including WABL.

We have also had a number of our junior athletes achieve selection in Basketball WA development programs which is a credit to these players, their parents and our coaches.

Pillar 6: Community

A key part of our community pillar is our ongoing progress along and contribution to the journey of reconciliation. Central to this is the acknowledgement of the Whadjuk people of the Noongar nation, the traditional owners of the land where we play.

We have been so blessed as a club to have the genuine and generous support from Isaiah Walley Stack, his father Phil and grandfather Trevor. Their design of the indigenous patterns that now adorn our indigenous round jerseys, our NBL1 score bench and our club car will be on all merchandise moving forward. And they continue to provide wisdom and support for us as a club on our reconciliation journey.

We have also announced this year that Isiah Walley Stack will be involved as a cultural ambassador to focus on improving respect and cultural engagement across the broad diversity of our members.

We continue to be supported and blessed by Trevor Touzel and Wisdom Calling who provide pastoral care for our club at all levels. Trevor works in confidence with many people in the club and is available for anyone in our community to reach out to.

As a club, we continue to develop relationships in the wider community with state and local government, our governing body BWA, local schools, universities, local government programs like Belmont Ballers and programs like the Ivor Burge ID programs.

The continued awareness by our club of the wider community that we operate, and high-level engagement within that community, is key to our club’s long term sustainability and relevance.

Pillar 7: Governance

Governance is about ensuring that we have clear plans and tight processes in place to ensure a sustainable Redbacks future.

The significant change in recent years is the growth in the size and operational complexity of the club. It is now a significant million dollar plus entity and requires a businesslike approach to sustain.

2021 has had a board with every position filled with competent and dedicated directors focussed on their portfolios. We have worked hard to improve our club and it has been a privilege to have worked with them over the year.

Our board meetings are efficient with reports from each portfolio tabled before the meeting and key strategic items identified for discussion and decision.

I would like to thank Jen Saliacus for her great work as Secretary driving our board and governance procedures each month.

Our accounting processes continue to be transparent, budgeted and audited.

And I am pleased to report that we have gone from a very ‘lean’ situation at the end of 2019 to a very strong financial position at the end of 2021 despite the significant investment we have made in our club over the past 12 months.

We have shown a year-on-year growth in both revenue and equity from 2020 to 2021 of +48%. This comes off the back of significant growth and strong surpluses in the areas of development, domestic and sponsorship with YOY growth in those areas of +264%, +54% and +148% respectively.

We have run a strong surplus and can now continue to invest in resources to support this growth. And our future is stable with a strong cash at bank position, one which we could only have dreamed about in the past.

I would like to thank Rob Pyne for his incredible ongoing dedication to the treasury and diligence with accounting for our club money. And Sue Hosken for her tireless commitment to our club in the area of accounts receivable and payable.

Our club culture

As a Board, we desire for everyone in the club to have a great basketball experience.

We desire to create a great club environment that allows good people to step up and do amazing things.

To do this we need to continue to focus on how this is achieved within the:

  • Complexities and realities of growth
  • Challenges inherent in representative basketball that requires selections
  • Year-long and busy calendar.

We have fundamental pillars of our culture that provide the backbone of who we are.

We are a community of humanity and as such we are not perfect.

We will make mistakes and sometimes from the many perspectives within the club we may get things wrong.

Our culture (who we are) is defined in the moment:

  • when we believe/realise that others are not perfect and
  • how we react (how we treat others) in that moment.

In all processes and decisions we make as a Board and as a club:

  • the club comes first
  • the team second, and then
  • the individual third.

What is the greatest threat to our club culture (and thus the greatest threat to our current momentum and success)?

I have no doubt that our greatest threat is how we deal with conflict – that point in time where we misunderstand or disagree about something.

There are people in our club who choose to take a combative approach in these situations.

I have heard these people described as ‘furious before they are curious’.

  • They demand to be understood before they seek to understand.
  • They seem to have a problem for every solution.

In taking this approach, they come across as constantly critical and create division and exhaustion in our club. This burns people out. It especially burns out the club volunteers who are working feverishly hard in the background to make this club better.

As a club we need to:

  • Encourage healthy disagreement and discussion about how to get better
  • Discourage combative behaviour that requires there to be a winner and a loser in a discussion.

In 2022, I am asking all of us to seek to resolve conflict quickly and collaboratively:

  • Find the win-win
  • Think about the tone in our emails and conversations and thank people for the amazing things they do before suggesting some improvements or changes
  • Seek to understand the whole problem and all the complexities before demanding solutions
  • And sometimes, when we as a club have stuffed up, give us a little bit of grace as we try and navigate 50% growth and the most significant expansion of our club in its history.

Ultimately, we all want to have a great experience and I am proud to see the amazing progress we are making every day.

Despite not having our own courts, we are well respected as one of the leading clubs and we still have so many exciting things in our very near future.

I ask you to join me in making our club a safe place where we can all have a great experience together.

Thank you Grant

At tonight’s AGM, Vice President Grant Yonge will be stepping down after many years of dedication.

Over the years, Grant has been my right hand through some very challenging times where we did not have the resources, income or bank balance we now have.

Grant has always had a way of very diligently and directly asking uncomfortable questions to ensure we were making good decisions.

Grant has always publicly had my back but privately challenged me in many ways to be better. Our current stability and success have much of their foundation in those challenging years that we shared.

Grant may never truly get the respect for the role he has played in our club, and he is probably ok with that, but from me (and our very grateful club) to you Grant … thank you for challenging me to be a better President and for all of us to be a better club every day.

Summary

To summarise the highlights for the year:

  • We have run a competent and capable board
  • We have put on a full-time CEO
  • We have experienced extraordinary growth of 51% growth in overall revenue
  • We have record team numbers in domestic and WABL team numbers
  • We have record participation numbers,
  • Both our women’s and men’s NBL1 teams made the final four (the only club in WA to do so)
  • We had record sponsorship revenue with nearly all sponsors returning
  • We have engaged significantly with government at all levels regarding facilities and are engaging in a feasibility study at the request of the State Government
  • We have confirmed access to a further four courts for the start of 2024
  • We have ingrained the acknowledgement of the traditional owners of the land on which we operate and play into our club
  • We have run a healthy surplus
  • And have a bank balance that we only dreamed about three years ago.

To everyone that has made this happen … Thank You. I cannot wait to see what 2022 holds.

Anthony Nixon, PBA President

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