The UK Polocrosse Association has published the agenda for the annual Club Council Meeting and by the look of it the meeting could prove to be lively. The agenda includes on it a proposal to change the name of the Association, a paper around the idea of single sex A grade sections and the detail of what will be in the UKPA Club Code of Conduct, that all the UKPA clubs this year will be expected to sign. There are also points around the idea of more Pony Club one day tournaments alongside UKPA tournaments, one around the Sport England Club Marking scheme and points around the UKPA business plan and its way forward.
Some of these points are not universally accepted as good propositions for the UKPA and so could lead to some heated debates, though with all these events it does depend if the clubs and the membership actually decide to show up and make their voices heard. The idea of a Club Code of Conduct and the single sex A grade sections were mentioned earlier this year when the Club Council meeting was first called but the idea of a name change is a previously unmentioned idea. It is believed that some members of the executive favour a name change to the British Polocrosse Association, though it is unknown what they perceive as the actual benefit of this idea and some may well feel that it is simply a change for the sake of change.
There has been a paper published around the idea of the single sex A grade sections to explain the reasons behind the idea. They are not invalid points by any means but it does concede that the main stumbling block could be that there are insufficient clubs who can make up A grade teams of three men and three ladies. Based on the club line ups of last season effectively only three UKPA clubs can run A grade teams of this nature, being Kent, Celyn and Cotswold. The other club sides who played at A grade last year, Pennine, Rugby and Canterbury Colts, would struggle to have three strong enough ladies on a regular basis to even offer any sort of challenge to the other three. The next strongest club side in terms of lady players would possibly actually be the 2012 National B grade champions Vale Impi but even their top three ladies would not realistically be a match for the UK Open and Under 21 players who play for Celyn, Kent and Cotswold. So that would either mean more players switching clubs to be allowed to play A grade or clubs simply running out their strongest team in the B grade instead.
The problem the UKPA can not get away from is there are more men who play at a top level than ladies and if it wants to make single sex sections it will limit the number of men who are allowed to play at A grade. Two possible solutions (editor’s note: neither suggested in the UKPA paper so if one of them is ultimately adopted we want credit and reparations) could be to play the A grade in sections and have a men’s and ladies competition running separately or, alternatively, for the main three clubs who can (and it is believed want to) play their A grade teams in this format to do so and then the majority of the A grade matches will be played in this style anyway. Kent, Celyn and Cotswold normally form three of the four or five A grade sides in any tournament and between them shared the vast majority of all the A grade prizes last year anyway. Even in separate men’s and ladies’ sections all are probably more than capable of dealing with the the top six players of the other teams.
It remains to be seen exactly what the clubs themselves think of this idea, for those who don’t currently have an A grade side it is probably of little importance, for others it could make the difference between their top team playing A grade or B grade this year.
The club code of conduct is fairly detailed but in the most part it is really what most clubs do anyway, it is simply formalising it. The overriding theme is that clubs must be open, honest and fair in all that they do. The only points which could really prove unpopular or controversial are any which suggests that club chairmen and secretaries will have to fill in and keep more paperwork, an activity never really popular with busy volunteer club officials, and a rather strange clause that stipulates all clubs must have three playing members (editor’s note: it is assumed this means full playing members and not non-competitive members who can play at club practices but not in tournaments), suggesting that Executive now only want clubs established when the people within them are actually going to come out and play at UKPA tournaments and that merely paying a club registration fee is no longer going to be enough to satisfy them. It realistically will affect only one or two registered clubs from last year but it does beg the question as to why the UKPA would want to turn away club registration fees.
The idea of more Pony Club tournaments alongside UKPA tournament is believed to have come from an approach from the Pony Club Polocrosse committee to the UKPA about this idea, after a couple of Pony Club events were held alongside UKPA tournaments last year, (editor’s note: including at the inaugural Polocrosse Extreme Cup, not that we wish to blow our own trumpet. Well actually maybe we do a little). It is thought most clubs will feel that ideas like this are positive for the development of the sport, though not all of them would have the space at their tournaments to deliver it. The remainder of the agenda items are less likely to provide any great controversy, though that could depend on what exactly the UKPA lays out as its vision of the future under the agenda item “The Way Forward”.
One thing is sure though that if the UKPA clubs and the membership don’t attend and make their voices heard then they can only bear in mind the words of Abraham Lincoln, “If you have no will to change it then you have no right to criticise it”. (Editor’s note: what a wise man he was, though ultimately unwise in his choice of theatre productions!)