Solent Thrashers Head Coach Steve Rains comments on the EGM called for by 19 teams.

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Chris TebbuttNews
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Coach Rains has been outspoken on some of the shortcomings of BAFA over this season and has been pivotal in the creation of the proposals listed in the call to BAFA for a meeting, we asked him for his comments on the proposed meeting.

“Two really important things to start with. The key aim is to have an Open meeting with the community to allow BAFA to re-connect with the League clubs who appear to be very low in their priority list.”

“So we are looking for a constructive discussion without any personal issues or past history being brought into it. I had seen some calls for votes of no confidence which to me are pointless and destructive. It was that obvious sense of frustration in the community that lead to me deciding to put my head above the parapet – I am not expecting a welcome for that from some people.”

“The list of proposals addresses the current serious issues we are having and some that have been discussed over time but never openly addressed. We hope this is the opportunity to clear the air with a constructive debate that involves voting members rather than a behind-closed-doors review.”

“Some of the proposals may pass, others may not. Some may be amended by other proposals, I hope if there are other unaddressed issues that there will be an opportunity for further proposals to be put.”

“I have been asked why my club is the only Premier Team involved – I am very proud of the Thrashers for standing up to get the most prominent problem discussed – the increasing lack of Officials for League games. It doesn’t affect us as a Prem Team but it’s bad for the sport and it’s right that we add our voice to the call for change.”

“I am also proud of the other 18 teams who have supported the call for an EGM – they all 100% support the need for a meeting. This does not mean they all support each individual proposal but there is nothing on the list that any of them object to a discussion and vote on.”

Then in regards to the proposed ideas:

1 – This is aimed at redressing a huge imbalance where BAFA’s focus is on Elite projects with the League barely mentioned in the future plan.”

“It is arguable that BAFA should not run the League but rather follow the model set by the FA and RFU where separate organisations do that and focus on League issues. I understand this is not possible due to the current funding model where BAFA’s income comes almost exclusively from League fees. BAFA saw a significant drop in income when the BUCS League broke away and would probably be unsustainable if the same happened with the Adult and Junior Leagues.”

“I believe BAFRA are the finger in the dyke of breakaway leagues – if increasing numbers of teams are not getting Officials anyway that dyke could burst or similarly if BAFRA agreed to officiate for the highest paying league. Neither scenario is good for the sport and so we need to fix it.”

“I brought in Self-Officiating in my time as Ops Director – it was never meant to be a weekly thing but rather a last-ditch resort to save games being cancelled.”

2 – This is essential for players and clubs and can be achieved by setting firm immovable deadlines – coupled with sufficient space in the schedule to accommodate essential changes this has to be achieved. It can be done Clive Dobbin and I achieved it in the year we ran the League.”

3 – BAFA were warned that a Compacted season with a further reduction of available weeks for League play within that time would not work. The compacted season in itself is not the problem – the blanking out of weeks is. Either the period needs to be extended or more weeks need to be made available. BAFRA should be the starting point – how many games can they cover each week. Other ideas could be brought into this – D2 games on NP weekends etc”

4 – There is a real problem with BAFA Registration ending in September which I believe came about to accommodate BUCS Registrations. This change would see returning Adult, Youth and Junior players covered for any Pre-Christmas and Preseason activity – BAFA will know by their registration figures they are currently overseeing un-insured activity – yes they say you can’t do it – but there is no enforcement – the system should make it less easy to break the rule.”

“Currently, new players can get 3 free weeks to decide whether the sport is for them – arguably not enough time. Players returning from a break from the sport are expected to Register for £50 before they even dip their toe back in the water. This idea provides a bit of additional revenue for BAFA with a £10 pre-season registration that keeps everyone covered.”

5 – The standard of our League is behind Europe because we ban all imports – even European ones – with our residency clause. This is fixable because we have had insurance before that covered imports – this would improve the standard of our League which in turn would improve opportunities for our National teams.”

“In 1989 we won the European A Group Championship. We had a vibrant League with imported players at the top level 122 contact teams plus 31 Junior teams playing 11v11. The strength of our League is the starting point for the competitiveness of our GB Teams. Hence the need for these changes and a focus on League issues.”

6 – The Red and Yellow card scheme is a no-brainer and should not have been removed. The integrity of our League is secured by it. It was not my idea – I inherited it when I was Ops Director. It was put in to resolve a problem and it succeeded – taking it out will (has) seen that problem reappear.”

7 – Our two leagues are interdependent and should not overlap at either point – hence this proposal.”

“People have asked if I have a priority or personal agenda in the 7 proposals – the honest answer is no I believe they are all worthy of discussion and hopefully some resolutions that will move us forward. The scheduling issue is however clearly the most pressing and must be fixed.”

“I understand the NP may think this is an attack on them – it’s not I believe in the programme and as HC of the Junior Lions for 2 years witnessed its benefit to young players. Look closely at all that is being proposed is the loss of 2 Sundays and possibly a restriction on full-contact practice on those 2 weekends.”

“Finally, nobody is dictating an outcome – we are asking for a meeting at which the community will produce an outcome – that is healthy – it’s doing the Right thing – The Right way”

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