AUSTRALIAN AXEMEN'S ASSOCIATION - Report to the Competitors - September 2016
A number of the decisions taken at the AAA meeting at the 2016 Adelaide Show have the potential to be of enormous benefit to the sport of woodchopping and sawing. I want to take this opportunity to explain why that is so, in order that all our competitors, their families and supporters have a clear understanding where we are heading.
Regain NSO status
The delegates unanimously supported regaining our status as an ASC-recognised National Sporting Organisation.
The delegates gave their support in the knowledge that this will require hard work at State level to gain more members (we need at least 1,000 active members), and over time, the adoption of governance arrangements, published by the ASC, which are fitting for a national sporting body.
Collaboration between AAA and Stihl
Again, the delegates recognised that Stihl has a lot to offer in relation to the growth of the sport. It has been agreed that we will work collaboratively with Stihl to identify things that can be done to our mutual benefit. We will be looking at ways to spread the benefits to all competitors, not just a few.
Uniform Competition Rules
As a result of a lot of hard work under the leadership of Don Brown, the delegates adopted a uniform set of Competition Rules which will apply to all chops across Australia, conducted by or under the auspices of the AAA, from 1 January 2017. There are a couple of aspects that still require fine tuning, but these should be resolved quite quickly and the new Rules will then be published on the AAA website.
The next step will be to ask all the Royal Show societies to adopt the AAA Competition Rules for their woodchops.
I remember being told, a few years ago, that a uniform set of competition rules would "never happen". Well, it's just happened, which is a measure of the professionalism that we are working to develop within the sport.
Employ an Administrator
It was agreed that if the sport is to grow, and become more professional, we need an employed Administrator who can do what others cannot (whether through lack of time, other responsibilities, or lack of the required skill set).
As a guide, an Administrator could do at least the following:
· Provide assistance to the State bodies in arranging and conducting membership drives (ie doing much of the legwork that others cannot do);
· Manage the administration of the growth and development of the national coaching scheme;
· Keep the AAA website right up to date with latest developments and news for the woodchop family (as well as doing something similar on Facebook);
· Working with the new operator of the Hall of Fame, and the Latrobe Council, to ensure the Hall of Fame is a viable commercial venture and the woodchop memorabilia is displayed to its best advantage (including creation of some interactive displays);
· Working with the ASC on the development of the governance structures required for a national sporting organization that aspires to be in events like the Commonwealth and Olympic Games;
· Ensuring a good exchange and cross flow of information between the States that is required for an effective national body;
· Facilitating communications between national woodchop bodies in various countries which engage in the sport, in connection with the formation of an international woodchop association (which is a pre-condition to consideration for inclusion in the Olympic Games);
· Identify and follow up sponsorship support for the sport;
· Work with the States in encouraging and developing programs for the recruitment and training of young axemen and women.;
· Assist with and manage the implementation of the various strategic plan decisions that the AAA has previously agreed on.
At least initially, I envisage that an Administrator would be employed on a part-time basis. I think it would be ideal if the person could come to the role with some knowledge of the sport.
To employ an Administrator, we need funds. It is for that reason that the delegates agreed to increase the per member registration fee from $18 per member to $50 for anyone under 18 and $100 for anyone 18 or over, with effect in respect of the 2017/2018 year (thus providing the States with time to decide how best to handle this decision).
I completely understand the concerns of a few people (and it is only a few) that this very substantial increase could cause some members to leave. That would be unfortunate, but consider this:
· The fees payable to participate in many sports can be in the hundreds of dollars per year range;
· How else are we going to be able to raise the money to do what needs to be done to raise the profile of the support and secure sponsorship and media coverage?
Rest assured that the AAA is moving towards doing what needs to be done to ensure the growth of the sport in Australia, and the maintenance of the sport's proud traditions. If there is some membership loss during this time of change, that will be unfortunate but it will not be a catastrophe: I am confident that with the right Administrator, the membership will grow, as will media interest and sponsorship support, all of which (along with our new collaborative arrangements with Stihl), will attract new participants to the sport.
The decisions noted above provide me with great optimism for the future of the sport. As I mentioned at the meeting in Adelaide, if this all goes to plan, I can see a time when the numbers of competitors across Australia will number in the thousands. I think we should all be proud about what we can achieve together.
Australian Axemen's Association.
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