The UK Polocrosse Association today took to Facebook to clarify the purpose of calling an early Club Council meeting. As reported by Polocrosse Extreme last week, the UKPA has called the Club Council meeting for the 17th of February and has delayed club registration until after that date, saying that there were items for discussion that “would affect registration”. This statement apparently caused some concern and confusion amongst the UKPA members, with various rumours circulating as to the purpose for this meeting.
In order to stop these rumours (which ranged from the UKPA being bankrupt to the fact that it was secretly being controlled by aliens who would reveal themselves at this meeting and invite the members to join them on their home planet) the UKPA CEO Barry Amor posted the following message on Facebook this morning;
“The early date is so that some new initiatives discussed at the AGM and within the UKPA Exec can be brought up with the clubs and set in motion for this season (such as ‘mixed’ teams). The delay in club registration is because clubs will be required to accept a Code of Conduct (as agreed at the AGM) to be affiliated and this will be presented and discussed at this Council meeting. The Exec is aiming to be more pro-active as well as more active in running polocrosse in the UKPA and this is just the start. If you have any questions please do contact me or your regional rep.”
(Editor’s note: Barry then threw a sheep at someone, poked someone else and invited me to “Add my birthday” to some strange calendar!)
The UKPA hopes this action will stop the rumours but they will also hope that it will spark debate amongst the members about the future of their sport and the roles that clubs and the members themselves play in it. There were a number of ideas discussed at the AGM in December and since then the Executive have aimed to formalise these into proposals to put before the clubs.
These specific initiatives are believed to mainly focus around the nature of competitions held within the UK. There will probably be some discussion around the idea of bringing back the inter regional competition (last played in 2003), the change in format and date of the National Championships (which has moved back from its traditional August bank holiday slot to the first weekend in September, an idea that the UKPA executive previously tried unsuccessfully in 2011) and also the idea of making the A grade (and possibly B grade) competition in the UK single sex, so men play against men and ladies play against ladies (referred to, very confusingly, as “mixed teams”).
Supporters saying that this idea of single sex competition will allow the UK to compete better on the international stage as their teams will be more used to just playing against their own gender and it will also make domestic competition more even and more enjoyable to both play and watch.
Critics say that there is an insufficient numbers of lady players at the top level to make this happen and that only three teams can currently actually run an A grade team of 3 men and 3 ladies. Therefore, to form more A grade teams players will have to move clubs and some clubs could be weakened or lost altogether. Men who wish to play in A grade will face much tougher competition for a spot and this could lead to the UK actually having less men to pick from for their international teams, as they won’t be playing at the correct level.
Critics also say that part of the reason the UK Ladies have been so strong in the last decade is because of the fact they play against men a lot of the time and this team could weaken if they are instead purely playing against ladies, particularly if more B and C grade lady players are brought up to A grade to make the teams have the correct balance of men and ladies. Supporters suggest that this will actually strengthen the pool of lady players to select the ladies’ teams from, as there will be more ladies playing at A grade level.
The second reasons for the early meeting mentioned by Mr Amor of a Club Code of Conduct is more of mystery but ideas that could feature in it include the fact that clubs must have some playing members in order to register and that clubs must be willing to let the UKPA see their annual accounts. However, at this stage these are just mere speculation based on previous rumours.
Perhaps the most important question to ask at this juncture is not what these changes may be but will the membership of the UKPA really care? Will it really affect the vast majority of them if the A grade decide to change the format it plays in or if their clubs have to agree to a Code of Conduct? The answer is probably no on these two points, (editor’s note: though not withstanding the fact that when it comes to a discussion around the best way to develop and pick a National sports team for any sport every man and his dog suddenly becomes an expert) but on matters such as the inter regionals and the Nationals the wider membership (and not just A grade players and aspirational A grade players) are likely to have more interest and this could lead to heated debate.
With the UKPA Executive due to meet on the 3rd of February the membership can probably expect further details after that and maybe a detailed list of the points for discussion, allowing clubs the chance to canvas the views of their members before the Council Meeting.