AFTER a 10-month club and community consultation process, the Shoalhaven District Cricket Association has released its draft future directions strategy, designed to drive the direction of community cricket over the next three years.
The strategy establishes eight key parameters and five strategic pillars to drive the community cricket activities of SDCA - in partnership with Cricket NSW.
The strategic pillars define activities in governance and administration, club support, competition structure, schools and facilities.
The overriding focus of the strategy is an outcome of sustainable cricket for all standards in the Shoalhaven and to support the work of clubs and their volunteers.
The competition structure section of the strategy was released to clubs in July 2019, so that it could be discussed and implemented for this season.
The process that followed in making a final decision on the competition structure for this season was a key topic of conversation within the steering committee said CNSW area manager southern NSW and ACT Martin Gleeson.
"The competition structure, which was proposed as part of this process, was adopted for both seniors and juniors in early August before the September meeting repealed some of the structure, which created some confusion and uncertainty leading into the season, particularly at the junior level," Gleeson said.
"Fortunately, and to the credit of the clubs and the SDCA executive, the 'stages not ages' approach was adopted for the junior competition and this approach saw the junior competition fully structured across the three stages of the Cricket Australia junior formats to allow players to better develop their skills and become more involved in each game.
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"The subsequent increase of seven junior teams (to 33) in the association is testament to the value of that approach and to the work of clubs in embracing the change at such short notice.
"Other key outcomes of the implementation of the strategy will see a greater alignment between CNSW school programs and the work of clubs, increased effort and focus towards supporting club volunteers, a published facility works program from the Shoalhaven City Council and a review of SDCA's executive structure, roles, policies and procedures."
The draft strategy also provided an opportunity to look at current participation trends in the Shoalhaven as well as set a path for the future explained SDCA president Craig Howsan.
"When we started this project, our association was under some focus with the loss of our under 16s competition, clubs reporting a decline in the standard of the first grade competition, a decline in entry-level program registrations, a low engagement rate with schools in the area and recent media reports all contributing to discussions among club and community about the direction of cricket in the area," Howsan said.
"Importantly, the initiatives and activities of this draft strategy have been developed from the interviews with clubs which commenced this process, a club workshop, the analysis of data trends, discussions with Shoalhaven City Council and many discussions from the steering committee to ensure the final document is representative of community feedback.
"The strategy is already starting to reap some rewards with junior team numbers up for the first time in a number of years, some competition structure adjustments, facility works and efforts from council and a growth in school participation numbers and club support with the CNSW staff uplift.
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"A key area the SDCA executive are keen to look at is the support available for the executive and how our competitions are administered.
"We are keen to work towards engaging a paid administrator for our competitions, either as a part time role for the association or as part of a conference administration model which has been implemented in other parts of NSW.
"The process has stalled over the past couple of months as attention in the community was quite rightly directed towards the bushfire crisis and we are now ready to release the draft and we look forward to club and community feedback."
Feedback from the cricket community is welcomed and encouraged on the draft strategy with all suggestions and comments to be submitted in writing to CNSW cricket manager Shoalhaven Sean Barrett at email@example.com by Friday, February 28.
All feedback will be collected and considered as part of the final discussions before the final strategy is released in March 2020.