Regional Development initiative

To support our plans to see "Ultimate in every school, a club in every town, and a coach in every club," UK Ultimate is setting up a new initiative called the Regional Development Network.  Some background information, and an outline of the idea, is presented below - we hope to spark some debate and plenty of action.  The ideas will be discussed as part of a wider development discussion at the UKU Development Conference and AGM on Sat 13 Sept in Loughborough.  Why not come along?

Background

The majority of the growth in Ultimate participation in the UK comes from the University sector where there is an existing infrastructure for recruiting and retaining players.  Increasingly Ultimate is played in schools, but in most parts of the country, its difficult or impossible for a young would-be player to find somewhere nearby to play regularly.  Meanwhile - whilst many players and clubs would love to help recruit more players in their area - they face plenty of questions and barriers about where to start and how to proceed.  We want to provide those groups with more help, and in particular give successful clubs and groups an easier route for sharing their experience and knowledge. 

 

Summary

We propose a rough “template” approach to groups of players and/or clubs that would like to see and support more Ultimate in “their area”.  But the definition of the area will largely be left to the people involved locally.  In some places it may make sense to cover a county or a city - but not always.  

We invite groups to form a [Local] Ultimate Development Group, and join the national network.  To join the UKU Regional Development Network we would require each group to commit to the following (or something similar):

1. Identify a named group of individuals (a sub-committee of UK Ultimate Ltd) to take on a defined minimum set of positions/roles - an initial proposal of required and optional roles is set out below

2. Provide a continuous online presence for communication about Ultimate in the area - for potential new players, players moving into the area, but especially to build up an understanding of which schools are active, etc.

3. Implement a number of local projects each year as outlined below

 

Group Roles

Required:

  • Chairperson 
  • Competition(s)/League(s) coordinator + team of people to help
  • Youth/Schools coordinator + team of help to support
  • Communications - focuses on telling people in the area what is going on, and also knows who’s who in all the clubs/teams/pickup sessions in the area

Additional potential/suggested roles:

  • Club development -> e.g. help clubs get started, or add a youth section
  • Pickup coordinator -> UK is conspicuous for a lack of places to just show up and play ultimate
  • Taster sessions / Coaching delivery
  • Women’s
  • Uni
  • Community liaison - esp County Sports Partnerships
  • Grants / Fundraising
  • Social
Annual Projects

Groups would be required to do the following as a minimum:
  • Run at least one regular “weekly-fixture league” per year - with aim of creating a sustainable annual competition that is accessible to players who can only commit to playing once a week (locally)
  • Run/support National Schools Series event(s) in the area
  • Maintain 1-page of info about the group on relevant section of www.ukultimate.com (to be setup) - and maintain other online presence as desired (on uku website or not - whatever suits best)
  • Run open “pickup” and/or “taster” sessions - ideally coordinated with County Sports Partnership.  Minimum would be one short programme per year (maybe just one day) in the run-up to Schools Comp or League
  • Take an informal census of clubs in the area to help keep knowledge and contacts current
  • Annually agree a documented plan of activities, and write short update at the end of the year, to be published within the Network
No doubt some groups will do more.

 

The Network

We will be looking for a small number of volunteers to help coordinate the network itself -
  • to help groups share information
  • recruit other groups into the project
  • run an annual conference
  • generate some friendly competition
  • spread the news
  • provide information about the tools and structure that UK Ultimate can make available to help (obvious example being extending UKU insurance to cover local league and its organisers)
  • keep the communication channels up to date and relevant
There are lots of great stories of isolated projects being run very successfully around various parts of the UK - such as Brighton's draft league or the recent schools competition run by Guildford Ultimate.  But we're really aren't making the most of these individual successes, and we certainly don't have any means of connecting them with anyone outside our immediate community.  

 

Questions?

What is “an area”?

This is deliberately vague.  Our plan is to allow groups to form around people/clubs/areas that make sense to them.  An area will not be “representative” in the sense that  they should represent UKU members in that area.  Nor will the area carry any meaning in the context of UKU competition structures.  So - in some places - we might have a group with (loose) boundaries that coincide with the boundaries of our competition regions - but in others we may have multiple groups within such a region with gaps in between them.  The intention is to have a very simple approach to “assigning” an area to a group of people.

 

Isn't this what a club would be doing?

In some areas we may have clubs that can do all of this for their area - but in other areas (London stands out as an obvious examples) this would make no sense.  Furthermore not all clubs want (or would be good at) the kind of activities we are proposing as they vary greatly in their composition, approach and goals.

 

Why not set up a number of Regional Organisations that represent the members/player for their region?

This would create lots of duplicated cost and effort (duplicated with UKU Ltd) that we simply don’t need.  We may find that in the future (with 100x more members) this would make sense - but for now it would be overkill.   It would also force an approach based on arbitrary geographical lines.  We want to focus on harnessing the energy of groups of people that want to make something happen in an area that makes sense to them at the time.  We should expect groups to expand or contract, merge with neighbours, split into pieces and sometimes just disappear.  

 

What Next?
  • Come to the Development Conference to hear more or share your experiences
  • Volunteer to help coordinate the national network
  • Email britdisc or TheShowGame to explain how and why you disagree
  • Talk to the other playing groups in your town about starting a league and joining the network