On the 10th/11th August Platypus Events will be hosting their first ever polocrosse tournament at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. But who are this mysterious Platypus Events? They are an unknown entity, a suspicious blot that holds a prime date on the coveted UKPA summer tournament calendar. Never one to shrink from a challenge Polocrosse Extreme decided to find out what it was all about!
We meet the man behind Platypus Events, John Whitehead, in an abandoned warehouse on the edge of Slough (editor’s note: actually we didn’t, we met him in pub in Warwickshire but that doesn’t sound as good).
John is well known on the UK polocrosse scene, he is the UKPA Sport Development Officer, an active member of Cotswold Polocrosse Club and co-founder of Ledbury Polocrosse Club. Now he is also in charge of the Platypus organisation, an organisation which is on a mission: to run the best polocrosse tournament in the world!
So why has John decided upon this mission and how does he intend to make it become reality? John explained to us how in 2012 he realised there was a demand for better, more professional tournaments, a demand which was perhaps easiest to fill through running tournaments as an individual or as part of a small dedicated team, rather than through the traditional medium of a polocrosse club.
John said, “On the back of the success of 2012’s Polocrosse Extreme Tournament, I started thinking about ways to further professionalise the sport in a way that added value to the players without altering the social and communal spirit that makes it so special. I talked to numerous people in the sport and they suggested a number of ideas to create a better player experience. The idea that was most popular was to create a more professional umpiring and pitch management system. Hand in hand with this idea was to decrease the general reliance of tournaments upon the inclusion of players in its administration, i.e. goal judging, field marshalling etc”.
John is now keen to put these ideas into action through Platypus Events. Clubs are the core of the UKPA structure and John says he would never want to change that, but there are some things that clubs can’t always do. Platypus Events will be more willing to take risks and try different things, things that a club simply can’t do due to its duty of care for members and the desire to maintain a solid financial base. Platypus Events will focus purely on the organisation of a great tournament and try these new ideas to deliver an even greater polocrosse experience to its players and spectators.
So, what will Platypus be doing that’s so different?
After listening to the advice and feedback of the UKPA and its members they have decided to introduce a professional umpiring system. They plan to use paid umpires, rather than relying on players umpiring in between their games and is also looking at a system involving more input from a third off field umpire via a radio link up. In addition to this, John says that they will not require clubs to provide field marshals or goal judges, the pitches will be among the best in the country and the party will be run by a professional event organiser.
And how does John intend to make this all possible?
John concedes that in order to make it possible there probably will be a small rise in entry fees but he explained that this increase will only be what is sufficient to cover the cost of the new umpiring and goal-judging system. John says he had no intention of profiting financially from the entry fees associated with the tournament, any profit associated with the tournament is planned to come from areas such as the bars and catering, as is traditional at all club tournaments.
In fact John feels that in 2013 they are unlikely to make any profit, “We don’t anticipate a profit in the first year, we are planning to break even as there are quite a few set up costs for this tournament. The plan is to run it as successful event in 2013 which the membership enjoy and want to come back to, and then hopefully we can make it even better in 2014.”
However, there is also more to Platypus than just events. Their website is due to be launched at the end of the month, but in addition to their headline event they will also be hiring out horses to players up to a B-Grade level, and be providing qualified umpiring duties to players and organisers during the season.
So having met with the man behind Platypus what do we think? Well, we have decided to partner with them and lend all the support we can, that’s what we think! John’s passion for the sport is clear for all to see and his ambition is to see the sport evolve positively for the benefit of the players. We are therefore delighted to be helping run the inaugural Platypus Tournament in August and hope that by sharing the ideas we have learnt for our own Polocrosse Extreme tournament we can help give players a fantastic playing experience and a weekend to remember for years to come.
Bring on the summer!