Annual General Meeting - President's Report
2020 has been a very different year to the one we had all expected when we held the AGM in December last year. While we have navigated the challenges and got many things right this year, we have also learnt some valuable lessons.
This year will forever be remembered for the COVID-19 playing havoc on livelihoods and decimating our planned football programme. Across the club, none of our teams were able to finish their league campaign. Nevertheless, we continued with the introduction of many new programmes.
I have confidence that we have safeguarded the future of our club during these unprecedented times, particularly from a financial point of view thanks to the great work and leadership of Paul Gillies and Duane Sommerville. Furthermore, we have grown as a club and this is evident through the high quality of coaching we continue to run deep into term four. We are proud to have the best coaching setup our club has ever offered, and we now have a fantastic year-round programme that will no doubt be the envy of many New Zealand clubs. In addition to this, we will be investing in other parts of the club so we can continue to expand things such as Schools Programmes aimed at the First Kick Football.
To the best of my knowledge, East Coast Bays Association Football Club is the only club in the NRF to offer members a 25% refund on fees or an offer to take 25% off next season’s fees as a result of the financial burden this year has had on families. This was the right thing to do, and our members remain at the forefront of our minds when we have made these decisions.
Once the football season finally got underway in June, Dan Cooke commenced his coaching role with our top team. Unfortunately it wasn’t the full season we were all hoping for.
The season began well for the Premier team in Division 1 of the NRFL with a 6-1 away win at Takapuna. However, due to the impact of COVID-19 and restrictions on gatherings, like everyone, our players experienced general uncertainty in their lives outside of football, and obviously training sessions proved tricky. When the season was cancelled in August, due to Auckland’s second lockdown, the team were in the top half of the league. Pleasingly the final game was a 1-0 away win in Tauranga.
Dan Cooke was supported by Nathan Cranney and Adria Cassels and the culture in the team has significantly improved with the Premier Team now far more involved in the club.
Our Reserve Team experienced the same challenges this year. This produced poor results for the first half of the season, however, performance lifted as we approached the August lockdown and cancellation of the season. I am confident we will have a significantly stronger Reserve Team set up for 2021, which will be led by new coach Albert Riera.
A key highlight this year was seeing six East Coast Bays Association Football Club boys selected for the New Zealand Under 17s training squad. An enormous congratulations to Aidan Lehan, Chase Taylor, Baily Stevenson, Nathan Pepper, Nick Gaze and James Edgeler. Aidan Lehan and Chase Taylor have subsequently been selected for reduced squad size.
Across all other grades, East Coast Bays performed well with the most pleasing aspect being the development of our Junior and Youth players.
Again, due to COVID-19, there have been few tournaments to report on this year across the Junior and Youth sections of our club. However, when we have attended tournaments we have been competitive and most recently our U13 team won the Wynrs tournament against the strongest teams in Auckland. This demonstrates the progress we are making and how the high-level Skills Centres are starting to produce results.
In February, Kevin Ireland took up the position of full-time Director of Football. This was a significant appointment for the club, and it has enabled us to offer high level coaching.
Kevin has led the coaching team with support from Dan Cook, and has delivered an excellent set of programmes including our Skills Centres and Talent Development programmes. Furthermore, these programmes have organically attracted new players to our club.
We were preparing to offer talent programmes to our community youth players (outside of the Talent Development programme) however this was impacted by the second lockdown. The positive news is that these will be reinstated in 2021.
When players and coaches were unable to train together, Kevin and his coaching team offered online coaching sessions; which gained praise by NRF on social media for being the best available across the region. These programmes were advertised on our social media platforms and open to all players at the club.
In November, the All Whites coaching team led by Danny Hay visited our Talent Centre and they were thoroughly impressed by what we are offering. When we were unable to get out on the grass due to COVID-19 and physical distancing requirements, our rapid adoption of technology meant players were kept motivated and engaged. Again, this has been viewed as at the very top end of what was offered anywhere in New Zealand.
December has seen Kevin leading the club to applying for New Zealand Skills Centre and Talent Development accreditation. This will be a major step for our club, and we will be one of a handful of clubs in New Zealand to be accredited. This new league structure can lead to National League Summer football, and taking this step will enable us to be well positioned for the future, especially given New Zealand Football has announced that National League Clubs must have accredited programmes in place.
Off the Field
Off the field I’m pleased to say we have also moved the club forward. We have signed a significantly improved kit deal with Lotto that will see them investing money in our club and the kit from our Premier team through to First Kicks.
We have invested in communication software that will enable us to keep our members more informed about our programmes in 2021, including a full calendar of events for the year. This software means our members will no longer have to register through Comet, which I’m sure everyone will appreciate. Michael Boyens has been at the forefront of this investment and he is leading the team involved in implementing it into the club.
This year we were joined by Claudia Van der Hulst, an intern who is responsible for our new-look social media channels, the introduction of new communications channels (including Instagram) and the vast improvements to our website. She has made an excellent job, and I want to publicly recognise and thank her for all this tremendous work.
The club will have a new website to kickstart 2021, which will help keep our members updated with everything happening at the club and in our football community. Our Social media will continue to be a priority in 2021. Who will forget the memorable lockdown toilet roll challenge?
As you can imagine, this year has required careful financial management to ensure the prosperity of the club. As a Board we had to make some tough decisions early on to have cash preservation measures in place.
Thankfully we were able to use the Government wage subsidy which helped immensely, and the small loss we’re predicting ($6.000) is far better than we could have imagined. This loss will be confirmed once the accounts have been audited.
With sponsorship and grants being more difficult to secure this year, the loss we are predicting is testament to the hard work and tough decisions taken.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Paul Gillies for his excellent support and guidance this year, and for keeping us on track.
There were very few rule changes this year.
This season we offered club-based referee courses at the club, and these will continue in 2021. Our goal is to have every team with at least a club-based referee.
R & M – Health & Safety
Our club rooms and grounds require continuous maintenance, so thank you to Mark Skeath for all your support in this area. We also held a successful working bee in March, which saw many club members turn up to help spring clean, paint and maintain the club house.
Health and safety continues to be an ongoing area that needs constant monitoring to ensure we are keeping our members safe in every interaction with the club.
Our club relies on the exceptional help we receive from our volunteers. I would like to thank our age group convenors Michelle Goldfinch, Peter Black, Lynn Theck, Jeff Honey, Katherine Williams, Rufina Pollett, Morag Ward, Leanne Coombe, Jill Steffert, Adam Scott and Mark Skeath. Thanks must also go to our team coaches and managers.
Thank you to Ross de Wynter our bar manager and Duane for taking on the day-to-day accounts.
Wendy Skeath and has also invested many hours at the club again this year, so an enormous personal ‘thank you’ from me. Marie Gisby has continued to be a huge help to me this year and she continues to volunteer her time every week. Thank you Marie, and thank you to every one of our volunteer army.
As I have already said 2020 has been a year like no other and I am sure we will all be glad to see the back of it.
The Board has worked hard to steer us through this year and my personal thanks goes to Tony, Bruce (who is stepping down), Michael, Mark, Jonny, Duncan and Paul. Everyone has played a role this year and without such a proactive Board we would not be in the position we are now.
I would also like to acknowledge Roger for the work he has done on behalf of our club this year; and on top of being a coach, convenor, and occasionally a player!
Now can we move to 2021 as soon as possible please…