Hockey Ireland plans to bring in a new membership system and governance proposals at the 2018 AGM to give the organising body and the sport a platform to develop significantly.
Key to the developments is an online membership system to be introduced to capture information of hockey players in Ireland, helping to manage the sport but also “to show the size and importance of our community”.
It follows the 2017 AGM when the introduction of a new membership system was raised with the meeting seeing Hockey Ireland resolving to lay out formalised plans.
Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels says it is an important step for the sport and how hockey plans for the future.
“The first objective is to quantify how many players and how many members we are actually talking about. At the moment, we are failing with Sport Ireland when they ask ‘what are your demographics, what is the size of the sport?’ We can’t quantify that.
“We are coming to the end of a strategic plan but all these plans don’t make any sense if you can’t have quantifiable goals. One of the big goals of the old strategic plan is to get more players but we don’t know whether we are going forward or backward in the system we have now so it is important we capture that data.
“We must have access to demographic information and be able to stand over our participation figures in order to effectively utilise the grants available for sports.”
Indeed, having such data can have a big knock-on effect in terms of approaching potential sponsors and also giving back additional benefits for members.
“Again, sponsors want to know the demographics, where do they live and so on. It’s not our intention to sell the data on to the sponsors but there might be partnerships which can then give benefits to members as happens in other countries. Like in Holland, if you are a hockey club member, you can get discounts or something like that kind of deal.”
The proposed online membership system will help the clubs and the Branches manage the database of members, review and maintain existing member information, monitor and oversee renewals, allow members to easily pay online, and above all, give all the information needed to better service your member community.
The online membership management system will have multiple secure access points at each level (Hockey Ireland, branch, club, and member). The system will allow for reliable, accurate participation numbers for hockey in in one secure location.
Clubs will also be encouraged to sign up with the new membership system provider which provides a range of additional services including the ability to invoice members, produce club communications and more.
“I think the clubs will get a system that they will like so much that they will probably want to use it. If we all use it, we all will save money.
“If clubs are happy with their system as it is, they can easily do an export the required data into the new system but eventually we think all clubs will probably use the same one.”
In the introduction year, the goal is to register and administer all hockey members and there will be no change in the Hockey Ireland affiliation fee in the year 2018.
However, it may be that the affiliation fee now based on ‘teams’ may be changed to a per ‘person’ basis. Hockey Ireland is currently investigating whether this could be accompanied by personal accident insurance cover for Hockey activities.
To enact the new system, the Hockey Ireland board requires an amendment to the Articles of Association to put the project on a constitutional footing and a new Bye Law should be adopted to specifically deal with making it a requirement for clubs to inform Hockey Ireland of their membership database.
“Once everyone knows what is going on, we will have the basis in the bye laws to enact this.
“We want the clubs to get the feeling that this is a good thing, they understand it strengthens the organisation and strengthens the sport and is something we must do.”
In terms of governance, Hockey Ireland is also keen to reform the current committee structures. As currently constituted, the structure requires 130 positions to be filled and over 80 meetings to be held each year.
Some committees – as laid out in the current bye laws – are non-operational or operating in a different role to the one envisaged.
As such, a more streamlined approach is proposed with the Board committee areas to include finance, risk management and governance. Operating committees would oversee welfare, competitions, high performance, coaching, umpiring and officiating, and participation and development areas of responsibilities.
For the purpose of continuity to achieve long-term objectives, it is also proposed to provide the option of appointing directors of the board for two and three year terms rather than the current year-by-year appointments.