The Gold Coast Softball Association and Softball Far North Qld (FNQ) have been rewarded with Homeplate status on the back of implementing effective strategic and operational practices, recording huge membership growth and strong member retention.
Only 18 months ago both associations made the decision to partner with Softball Qld and five other District Softball Associations to participate in the Association/Club Development program (which is supported by Softball Australia) to access the invaluable benefits provided by the support and guidance of Softball Qld’s Association Coordinator, Karen Robe.
Some examples of effective strategic and operational practices that both associations have implemented with the support of Karen include developing and implementing an operational plan, strategic plan, funding plan, financial plan, policies and procedures as well as position descriptions for their volunteers.
These strategies, operational practices, policies and procedures were put to the test when the Gold Coast Softball Association was faced with the misfortune and heartache of losing their clubhouse in a fire. They lost everything: years of history, trophies, awards, certificates, furniture etc. But with resilience, determination and hard work from the committee and members, as well as enormous support from the Gold Coast City Council and the community, the association was able to keep going and extraordinarily still managed to host the 2017 Pan Pacific Masters Games only a month later. Even more amazing, Gold Coast has managed to get to the top of the Homeplate Ladder!
Through a facility-needs study conducted by the Cairns Regional Council, the need to provide additional land for sport in the southern suburbs of Cairns was identified. In response, Council purchased a parcel of land on Walker Road, Edmonton for sport and recreation purposes. Following community engagement with Softball Far North QLD, Softball Qld and many other sports, the Walker Road Sport and Recreation Precinct Master Plan was prepared and subsequently adopted by Council. Fortunately, Softball Far North QLD, who had been rapidly growing in numbers over the years, were part of this plan. The Association recently moved into this brand new multi- purpose facility along with baseball.
Both the Gold Coast Softball Association and Softball Far North Qld submitted successful applications securing funding for various projects. Gold Coast secured $91,300 from the Qld State Government’s Get Playing Places and Spaces program for one set of new backnets and dugouts as well as field upgrades, and $26,750 from the Gambling Community Benefit Fund for a new mower. Softball Far North Qld secured $3,053 from the National Volunteer Grants Program for computers, printers and software.
The outstanding membership growth from both associations has been attributed to the implementation of successful participation programs and events such as Softball Batter Up, Sporting Schools and the master’s events program. Gold Coast has also developed a fantastic program for 2-5 year olds called Mini Makos. This program came about from the children of current members sitting on the sideline bored, while parents and older siblings were playing softball. The children were too young to join in so the association developed a specially modified program to engage those children and spread the love of the game.
Both associations are heavily invested in training their volunteers, conducting accreditation courses to upskill their coaches, scorers and umpires.
Congratulations to both associations on their outstanding Homeplate Ladder success. The valuable tools developed with the support of Karen will ensure that both associations are sustainable well into the future.