AGM President’s Report 2020

2020 has been one of the most extraordinary years in all of our lives. Everyone has been affected, and our basketball club is no exception.

In the world we live right now, to be able to meet and present at an AGM with a room of people, in a club with a domestic season in full swing and after successful WABL and SBL seasons is truly a blessing for us all.

For me to be able to present a report where I believe the club is in the very best position I have seen it in over the 10+ years I have been involved is a testament to the extraordinary year that we have had.

Above all else, what has made 2020 so positive are the amazing people that stepped up and got involved at all levels of the club.

There are so many people to thank and acknowledge for their contribution this year.

Rather than try to name you all and leave someone out, I’d simply like to take a moment to personally thank each and 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, 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 … thank you. Your efforts have not gone un-noticed.

Key areas of focus

When I took over as President five years ago, I outlined four key areas of focus:

  1. Financial diligence and financial stability
  2. Our future and where we will be in five years
  3. Processes around how we make decisions and run the club
  4. Our club culture

I would like to quickly cover off on the progress of these items:

1. Financial diligence and stability

2020 has been the most significant year for our finances in the years I’ve been involved.

The addition of Rob Pyne as Treasurer has made an instant improvement in many aspects of the way the club has run and diligence with regard to how we manage finances.

In addition to this, there have been some key elements that have underpinned this year’s excellent financial performance:

  • The significant amount of COVID government financial assistance
  • The operation of all competitions despite COVID
  • The reduced cost model undertaken by BWA for the SBL season
  • Initiatives like the canteen at Vic Park
  • Changing back to a volunteer model and not having a full-time GM
  • Pre-payments for the largest PBA domestic competition in recent memory (Summer 2020/2021)
  • Amazing support from our sponsors despite COVID

A financial audit has been commissioned from Phoenix Accountants and Advisors and the audit report has been completed and tabled.

The accounts are presenting a significant growth in audited income and have delivered a healthy surplus.

COVID has allowed an increase in cash reserves putting the club in the most financially stable position it’s been in for many years.

We do anticipate returning to a break-even scenario in 2021 with investment in some key areas and several revenue challenges that we are already managing.

I would like to thank Rob for his incredible dedication this year through a challenging time.

2. Our future and where we will be in five years

Given that it was five years ago that I first posed this question, where has the time gone?

With regard to venue, we have spent a significant amount of time and effort working with many parties on many options.

As I say each year, if anyone has a spare 15 million dollars and is willing to have a basketball stadium named after them or their family, I look forward to shouting you dinner.

Some of the options we have been working with have been:

  • CCSRA – 6 courts at Lifestream
  • South Perth Council (RAF) – 4-10 courts at South Perth (RAF)
  • Curtin Uni – utilisation of their 3 courts
  • Wesley College – new 3 + 1 court facility
  • Vic Park Council – Leisurelife Redevelopment
  • Other – 6 court warehouse conversion
  • Belmont Council – Oasis Redevelopment – Long Term

The major difference between this year and previous years is that our vision for the future has evolved to go beyond having a single ‘spiritual home’ (a single stadium situation like Willetton or Warwick).

With our huge geographical footprint, our current operations over three stadiums, many training courts and great working relationships with many local councils, we’ve come to believe that if we embrace our current multi-venue status, this will allow us to become the largest association in WA.

3. Processes around how we make decisions and run the club

In a nutshell, the mantra that guides all our processes and decisions is:

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

This has been our guiding light throughout 2020 and has served us well.

We all desire to have a great experience. The only way this happens is if:

  • We create the opportunity for good people to step out of their comfort zones, step up, have a go, get a few things wrong but a lot right … and do great things for all of us.
  • We continue to encourage them, especially when they don’t get everything right.
  • We speak well of each other and speak well of the club and always try to assume the best intentions are guiding decisions.

If our recent State Champs trials are anything to go by, there are many new families hearing great things about our club and wanting to become Perth Redbacks. So it appears that the above approach has really been on display in 2020.

4. Our club culture

I’ve always said our club culture is defined by how we behave and how we treat each other, not when things are going well, but when things don’t go as we’d like.

Over the course of 2020, many people have remarked on the great vibe at SBL games, at Vic Park on WABL game days, and at all our Domestic venues – even in challenging situations. This is a credit to all our club volunteers, coaches and referees who’ve worked hard to create this environment of positivity. And it’s a credit to our parents and players too.

Key areas within the club

I will now speak to each of the key areas in our club and highlight the remarkable things each of those areas has been able to achieve over the course of this extraordinary and challenging year:

Development

Michelle Fletcher has increased her focus on Development in 2019 with some significant growth in activation numbers in the community, schools, first Australian, Spiderling, Aussie Hoops and Referee Programs. The effort from Michelle this year has been incredible, and we thank her for her ongoing dedication and effort.

Here are our 2020 numbers (1 November 2019 to 30 October 2020 and keeping in mind everything was closed for Term 2 – March to June)

  • Contact with 4994 school children over 16 schools
  • 664 Aussie Hoops participants (up by 84 over three terms)
  • 266 holiday camp participants (up by 126)
  • 50 Spiderlings (up by 12)
  • Increase of domestic teams to 144 for summer (up by 12)
  • 71 Beginner referee course participants
  • 13 Level 1 referee course participants

Domestic

The Board set Paul Philpott and his Domestic team a challenge to go bigger and better than we did in 2019 and, with some incredibly hard work from our expanding domestic committee, the team has again delivered.

Our boys’ competition, in particular, has for the first time delivered a consolidated Division One competition across two venues, providing an opportunity for those wanting a higher standard of competition each week. We have been able to do this while maintaining a Division Two, participation-based competition at each site for those still on their basketball development journey or simply wanting a social game day environment. This shift has seen us stretch our court capacity from what we thought was our maximum last summer to a record 140+ teams across three venues on a Saturday morning. A new record.

While we acknowledge the girls’ competition continues to face challenges in terms of size and depth, the Domestic team continues to lean into this challenge. It’s important to recognise, however, that only a few years ago we didn’t have a girls competition at all. So a Girls’ Domestic competition of 29 teams is a massive leap forward.

I know Paul the team have more plans for further growth and development and can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year.

WABL

A quick summary of the numbers:

  • 25 WABL teams + 2 Division 1 teams (up from 24 in 2019)
  • 5 teams made grand finals (up from 3 teams in 2019 and up from 2 in 2018)
  • 3 Championship teams including the U12 Girls in Championship Division (none in 2019)
  • 32 teams for state champs up from 30 in 2019 and up from 25 in 2018.

One of the challenges we have with our WABL program is measuring what success looks like. The WABL landscape continues to change significantly which requires continuous evolution in our approach.

Success this year has been:

  • A full WABL committee led by Director Amien Sym who navigated everything COVID threw at them with exceptional energy
  • Getting 25 teams on court for WABL and then 31 for State Champs on an extremely tight turnaround
  • Improved communication to parents and coaches
  • Documented weekly coach reports and feedback
  • Greater involvement from SBL coaches focused on player development
  • Pillars of coaching and player focus

One major improvement that needs to be highlighted in our WABL program is the appointment of our SBL coaches as WABL Heads of Selection. We have known our players and their strengths and weaknesses better this year than any other and given there are over 280 of them, this is a big deal.

Looking at on-court performance, whether the measure is number of teams in the competition or whether it’s finals and grand final representation Redbacks only come in behind the better-resourced Hawks, Tigers and Senators.

In 2021 Amien and his team look forward to continuing with the great work done above while also implementing something that was a major agenda item for 2020 before COVID hit – a greater focus on supporting and developing our coaches.

SBL

2020 was a year unlike any for SBL and despite being heavily affected by COVID, it resulted in some very high-quality competition with great Redbacks supporter attendance at Belmont.

Both teams narrowly missed out on finals (a great result considering only the top four teams made finals), CJ Jackson was able to settle back into coaching at MSBL level and Craig Allen had yet another solid year developing a young group.

The most significant changes, however, came with a new SBL director – Nathan Barns, a revamped SBL Committee and the confirmation during the year of NBL1 for 2021.

With nearly all of our players on board for 2021 (these announcements are happening as we speak) we are very excited about NBL1 and 2021.

Board

2020 saw a Board with every position filled with competent and dedicated directors focused on their portfolios. It has been a privilege to have worked with them over the year.

A huge thanks to Bryn Arnold who stood in to assist with SBL in the early part of 2020 until we were able to find a permanent SBL Director in Nathan Barns.

The way each portfolio was managed and reported on ensured that we were able to tackle more strategy-level items at Board meetings than ever before. And I am pleased to report that everyone is continuing on into 2021 with the exception of:

  • Gillian Trahorsch who is moving to Sydney. As a board and club we thank Gill for her amazing work and the great structure she passes on to the incoming secretary. Gill is an amazing and compassionate woman and we will miss her greatly.
  • Sue Hosken who did not re-nominate in her role as Director – Life Member. Sue is the backbone of so many parts of our club and epitomises who we are as Redbacks and we are still hoping she will continue in her role in 2021.

The board that was elected unopposed at the 2020 AGM is as follows:

  • Anthony Nixon – President
  • Grant Yonge – Vice President
  • Rob Pyne – Treasurer
  • Jennifer Saliacus – Secretary
  • Kelly Exeter – Director – Communications
  • Nathan Barnes – Director – SBL
  • Amien Sym – Director – WABL
  • Paul Philpott – Director – Domestic
  • Simon Woods – Director – Commercial
  • Lyndon Brieffies – Director – Coach Development

I greatly look forward to working together with our 2021 Board to build on the extraordinary things we’ve achieved as a club in 2020.

Looking ahead …

The video that played at the WABL Breakfast and is now on our website captures the amazing year that was and the strong position we find ourselves despite COVID.

The commitment 12 months ago was to move back to a volunteer model and remarkably under the backdrop of COVID and the challenges of 2020 we have successfully done that.

The biggest challenge to our club culture this year has been our success and the challenges that we are now experiencing in being regarded as a club of choice.

Our unprecedented numbers in all competitions and especially WABL trials, and even the willingness of so many volunteers to get involved has meant that we now have the challenge of managing the process of the humanity around domestic competitions being at capacity, more and more players not making WABL teams and more and more volunteers stepping up and how we manage that.

As a board we desire for everyone in the club to have a ‘great basketball experience’ and we need to continue to focus on how we do that within the complexities and realities of growth, representative basketball that requires selections and the year-long, busy calendar.

The good news is, the Board is up for this challenge and intends to work hard over the coming 12 months to ensure we are able to evolve as the ever-changing WA basketball landscape dictates while holding on to the values of Family, Community, Respect, Transparency and Fairness that have always driven us.

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