Photo Credit - Joe Walshe
Much has happened over the past few weeks and I am not just talking Federal politics. To focus on the positive the 2018/19 ACT triathlon season kicked off with a successful duathlon on 1 September with numbers up by 25 on last year. TACT’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on Wednesday 5 September with a small but engaged attendance.
I am honored to be re-elected as President and welcome the return as Board members such active contributors in Steve Hough (Vice President), Polly Templeton, Amanda Power and Angharad Llewelyn.
In the run-up to the AGM we also spoke of the need for some fresh blood on the Board and am delighted to welcome new Board members Matt Haustead and Alex Hoitink. Matt previously worked for TACT as an intern in 2016 and brings considerable experience in sport, particularly tennis and at an administrative level. Alex is a keen long distance triathlete and brings commercial and marketing experience to the Board.
I am confident that as a Board we have the mix of skills and experience required for what will be a challenging environment into the future (more later).
Marty Rabjohns and Priscilla Barrington both elected to not stand for re-election owing to work pressures. We acknowledge their great contribution to the activities of TACT (Priscilla was a volunteer at the Duathlon) and wish them well in their sporting endeavours.
At the AGM we also acknowledged the high level of support and commitment that Craig and Mel bring to the TACT office. It is not easy running a small office with a concentrated program as is the case with triathlon. Thanks was also expressed to our sponsors for their support as well as our member clubs particularly in providing volunteers for events.
Under the outstanding stewardship of Polly Templeton as Treasurer we achieved a surplus of $41000 compared to a budgeted surplus of $300. This is now the second year in a row we have achieved a surplus on the basis of tight financial controls. Our reserves are now approaching the levels the Board feels is necessary for good governance and financial probity.
Our financial result also vindicates the Board decision of four years ago to reduce financial risk by moving to an outsourcing model relying on commercial event organisers to run the major events in Canberra (and pay TACT a licence fee). The promotional “pull” of such organisers saw near record participation levels at our events over 2017/18. TACT supplemented these commercial events by running a number of events itself – a triathlon, 3 aquathlons and a duathlon.
Unfortunately one of the commercial event organisers has withdrawn from the NSW and ACT market which means in 2018/19 we will need to run two triathlon to give our members four events in the ACT – what we feel is the bare minimum. This does present a challenge on existing resources, both paid and volunteers and makes it difficult to pursue all possible activities to grow the sport.
We saw at the Duathlon a struggle to fill volunteer numbers and we appreciate that this is an issue most clubs are grappling with.
It will however be one of the challenges for the upcoming season to not only put on professional events but most importantly ensure a safe environment. Given the “volunteer heavy” nature of triathlons a priority for TACT and its engagement with member clubs will be considering options to increase volunteer numbers.
A major challenge at the national level is a decline in membership – this has been occurring for three years – and triathlon is not unique amongst sports in experiencing this decline. In the ACT we are also seeing softening in membership but not too the extent of some of the big states.
Unfortunately the decline appears to be accelerating and I will be attending a meeting of Presidents and Triathlon Australia at the Gold Coast where membership will be the priority subject for discussion.
From the ACT perspective our approach is to acknowledge that considerable work has already been done in the membership space (and we don’t need to re-invent the wheel by further studies or reports) but we need to analyse why the decline is occurring (financial or social factors). Then with a sense of urgency we need to look to not only short term answers but long term solutions. Quite a challenge and I will keep members informed on this subject and always welcome any comments member might have on membership issues and perceptions of value.
I feel Canberra has quite an advantage in that the clubs appear close to their members be it via novice and training programs or as demonstrated by the growth in new performance training based squads.
All the best for the season and great successes to those attending the Worlds at the Gold Coast.
Triathlon ACT President