UK Racketlon

Written by James Pope

The Minutes of the AGM of UK Racketlon

Sunday 6th February 2022 - 8pm - Zoom


The meeting agenda was published here on the website.  

Ray Jordan (RJ) - Chair
James Pope (JP) - Secretary, James Pope took the minutes
Alex Du Noyer (ADN) - Treasurer
Johnny Bispham (JB1)
Lee Gregson (LG)
Jack Bishop (JB2)
Matilda Parslow (MP)
Dan Busby (DB1)
Sam Barker (SB)
Duncan Stahl (DS) - FIR President
Sarah Austin (SA)
Andy Wilson (AW)
Emma Leighton (EL)
Cameron Leighton (CL)
Dominique Ford (DF)
Susie Dilloway (SD)
Nick Rate (NR)
Dianne Baker (DB2)
Kieran Shelley (KS)


1. Welcome

JP welcomed everyone to the meeting, and provided the update that item 7 on the Agenda had been removed at the request of the proposer, Keith Lesser.  

2. Chairman's Report
RJ welcomed us all to the meeting. RJ was very impressed with how we got stuck in to organising tournaments and getting the tour back up and running once the rules allowed. As a result, RJ considers the 2021 season a real success. The Racketlon community has been excellent, and it was great to see newcomers and new tournament organisers such as Leigh Ware, with thanks to Kieran for his support, in particular in Newcastle.

We had some really good success at the Worlds, especially Jo Shelley who never stopped grinning! This year we are looking to expand our tournament reach, plus also making the organisation more efficient, allowing some to stand down to concentrate on other projects and bring in some newcomers to keep pushing us on. Also there will be a move to increase accountability.

3. Treasurers Report
ADN reported that UK Racketlon only generates money from tournament entry.  As such from April 2020 we had to use our small amount of accumulated reserves as our annual overheads (licenses, website, insurance and FIR membership) were still required to be paid.  This represents a figure in the low four figures a year. Additionally, refunds for entries (principally the British Championships) in 2020 also cost us £500, as UK Racketlon decided to absorb the cost from PayPal of issuing refunds and refunded all players in full. We still have reserves and can cover these eventualities. Of our regular overheads, the main tournament cost is Yehlex shuttles which we currently purchase at £17.50 a tube, which is a large cost, but if someone can find equal quality at lower prices, please let us know.

4. Tour Update
LG shared a summary graphic of the current status of the 2022 UK Tour. The first event in Letchworth filled quickly, which is a sign of how good the health of the tour. RJ noted that we worked to expand capacity of the Garden City Open to increase capacity. LG mentioned that fingers crossed Nick Matthew goes ahead at the third attempt! LG also reported that Dan Busby is trying hard to get an event in Leamington as it would be a great venue. He also noted that it was great to see new TDs in Susie Dilloway and Nick Rate in Oakham, and LG encourages anyone who is keen to host an event or knows a venue can contact him to get it going. LG expressed a hope that Stafffordshire will go ahead, but currently the venue is a vaccination centre. Meanwhile there is a hope to avoid the Great Norther Run this year in Northumbria, but it was noted that it was great for the Red Arrows to appear on the UK Tour for a flyover. Finally, LG is off to Chester next week to view a venue, and Nick Rate is looking in and around his area. It was commented that we are hoping to get back into Wales as well.

DS asked do we have a template deal that we can offer to external TDs, so if someone came asking to run an event do we have a framework to set people for running an event independent of us (with us taking a fee for promotions)? LG responded to say currently TD's take no risk but get no reward, however LG has done it himself in Manchester, so he took the risk, but cleared a small profit. Both models work in LGs view. RJ is of the opinion the Manchester model is fine predominantly if it is someone who knows Racketlon, and can provide the quality, we have been stung in Cardiff before now. DS thinks we should offer the opportunity, as this will encourage TDs to look for sponsors which can benefit us. We would have to set conditions on the range of balls and equipment to be used to ensure quality of events.

JB2 will we have a County Champs? LG responded that he didn't think we can rely on Keele, so we are looking at other options that are big enough, but we would like to land it if possible. RJ can we get it in in the autumn? It is great to get it in, because of the historic nature of county sport in the UK. But later in the year to give us time to book it in. JB2 noted that it also gives people time to build squads, and the team event is always a lot of fun. DS commented that the FIR has evidence which suggests team and doubles events are the best way to get people into the sport, as it is less foreboding for newcomers and also captains go and recruit new players as they need people to fill their teams.

SB commented that tournaments in Scotland and Wales would be good, however unfortunately Will Coley has left Edinburgh, but we do have Simon Lau in Wales. We can also go back to Nottingham in November, which could be a Counties venue, but unlikely we could run singles and teams on different days there.

RJ wrapped up this section by reiterating that it has been great work from Lee to get the tour working and back running in the last year. LG also wished to thank Kieran Shelley as well for his hard work.

5. Organisational Structure Changes
This is something to come over the next 12 months, as the Board thinks we need to consider how we structure ourselves as a Governing body. There are lots of amazing volunteers who keep us going, but we maybe are a tad inefficient and lack clarity in what we want to achieve (away from our core work of Tournaments). There is lots of space for us to grow as a sport. The idea is the board is smaller, but with more supporting volunteers, i.e a social media team, participation work to attract new and diverse playing members. A small team led by Jack Bishop will get things going, and hope to report at the next AGM, any ideas please do let JB2 know.

DS asked how we will work out how Racketlon is growing in the UK? JB2 agrees will need to be looked out. Also how we present ourselves as a sport, which will be necessary for how we gain sponsorship and official recognitation. DS asks this of all federations in the FIR, because if you say 10 tournaments sell out but it is the same 50 players playing each tournament, then you are not improving. DS commented that connected with this, are we thinking about holding back a % of entry space at each event to be filled by newcomers, even if it is 5 places before a deadline and those places are going to regular players. DS thinks we should start this now. RJ asked if there were any other views? LG asked how does it work logistically within tournament software? DS stated that if you know your capacity is X then you do X-Y for initial capacity and then fill up if they are not filled. RJ noted that it has worked at Letchworth, and new members were offered a discounted rate. CL commented that he has enjoyed playing new players this year at Notts, whereas in recent years he had played similar players at different events, therefore it is important to ensure good wide promotion of the events. JB2 echoes CL's feelings, and asks if this could be a way to empower TDs to offer things to their local area. JB2 noted it was also worth baring in mind a newcomer might dither over entering, and then miss the chance to play because established players flood in and fill it. DS added that the FIR believes if you get first timer to enter a second event within 3 months they become established players. JP added that a summary of his data indicated that there was a relationship between being a retained player (season to season) and having played multiple events within a season.  He also noted that there is a "welcome to Racketlon" newsletter sent to all newcomers after their first event to make them feel welcome in the community. SB said that for Notts he messaged all the University clubs in Notts for the Racketlon constituent sports to come and try it out. It was noted by RJ that we did miss a few people at Letchworth who we knew wanted to play, but it sold out too quickly. As second timers, they would be missed by this sort of scheme.

RJ - As we have a breather after Letchworth as only the British Championships is open, so we can start to think about timing the opening of events, to try and offer people to enter second events, so a future event opens soon after an event has just run, and promote it on site at the running event. SB asked if we could we have multiple events open at the same time, to try and avoid people only having one event to enter at any given time, so they rush into it. RJ felt this should be possible as we move towards the summer. DS reiterated his question and whether we wanted to resolve it tonight? JP suggested we could propose it as a trial and then vote on it for 2023 season at the next AGM. The question was asked was anyone opposed to a trial of 5 newcomer spaces per event? No one opposed in the meeting.

DB1 asked if we will have a SuperSeries? RJ responded that we have been held back as we lack events after British Championships to include in it. DB1 thinks we should firm something up sooner rather than later, but if we haven't stated the BCs can we do it this year? JB2 there are still unknowns for this year, we should have clarity on its our purpose, maybe we should focus on doing it properly in 2023, with it as a part of the season launch. DB1 would agree with this. JB2 we should be doing more planning than just the next season, can we tie in a venue for a few years ahead? JP pointed out that waiting a year allows us to get the rankings sorted as well to allow Covid issues to pass through this system. SB feels that we should lock them in as early as possible, maybe in the autumn if we can?

6. Resignation of Dan Busby and Confirmation of Officers
Dan Busby has offered his resignation from his position on the UK Racketlon Board.  Dan was also listed as a company director of GB Racketlon C.I.C and has been removed as a director on our listing at Companies House (with the support of Keith Lesser).  RJ thanked Dan for his work and noted he is continuing to be involved in the sport itself.  

All other existing officers were confirmed in their positions.  

7. AOB
JB2 - A question regarding GB Team selection? What are the policies?
JB1 - I have started putting together lists of eligible players, some will be accurate others less so. The only requirements that we have currently are people who support the tour and play (so we can see their level and performance).  However it would be useful to know what do people want to do? Do people want to play in O40s/O50s etc or in a GB1-4 side. British Championships are a critical criteria, but if you have a genuine reason please let JB1 know (exams, Covid, a wedding). JB2 are we going to have a formalise these statements again? JB1 will issue a statement in the near future. DS noted as a practical comment, there is an incentive to enter the World Championships early with 50% off singles entry if you enter in March. SB commented that there will be a big effort from FIR to encourage early entry to World Championships. JB1 stated that there was a likely date is mid-June for letting people know. However DS noted we have usually said 3 months, but this can be moved. DB1commented that it probably needs to be earlier for organisational reasons.

JB2 - GB Kit - what are our plans for kit?
JB1  - Kit is still be researched, with a view to avoiding prior stresses. DS added that our current kit was designed with iPro and so the design is on file. If we changed provider we will need to produce a new design or a copy of the current design which takes time. DB1strongly commented that he thinks we should NOT go with iPro. JB1 agreed with DB, DS agrees also, but feels we should try and keep the kit design the same, so people don't have to buy new kit.

JB2 - Are there restrictions on category entries at the 2022 World Championships for junior/vets and open age events?
DS responded that there are no restrictions as they are two events.

JB2 - Will we fund juniors in teams worlds? Do we have a policy around it? If it exists we should announce it in the selection meeting!
ADN - We normally pay the junior team fee and he feels we can do it again. Once we have an idea on teams and what fees are payable we can clarify it. DB1confirmed that it is something we have done before, as juniors often have parents to take as well. DS noted that there will be a need for players to use a tournament hotel, or in apartments were tournament people are the only occupants.

Simon Lau (submitted by e-mail)- Very occasionally players are placed in different categories than they apply for. It has happened to me and I usually volunteer flexibility on my entry form, as I don't mind. However, recently at Stamford a change resulted in me playing no tennis all day which was disappointing as I had been training my tennis. What do members think that even if the match is won before tennis, a category changed player could request to play to 5 or 11 points at least?
RJ answered that it could be tricky, and there are external factors. Maybe if it is in the shorter term it is fairer. DS added that it could be encouraged for the bumped up player to ask their opponent for a chance to play some tennis (assuming there are not mega-queues). RJ needs to speak to Simon and will clarify it with him further.

JB2 - Question for Sam Barker - We had a bizarre situation were lots of new people entered one category, how did you approach sorting them out? Could we run two categories as side by side, which might also give people some new matches, rather than the same B draw rocking up again and again? 
SB responded that you don't want too many new players playing new people as it affects the ratings which underpin the rankings. He tried to minimise the moves. Current Covid drop outs also mean we should favour larger draws to cover for last minute positive test results. RJ pointed out that you can always search for people on sport ratings systems like squash levels. DB1added that we could always do a play off between B1 and B2 placings to determine the final placings.

MP - Tilda announced that she would be willing to come onto the board in a capacity.
RJ proposed her, LG seconded her. Matilda Parslow was carried as VP onto the UK Racketlon Board unopposed.

RJ - Informs the AGM he is investigating a wheel chair event in Kent. Is speaking to England squash, as Kent has some strong tennis and badminton wheelchair players. If anyone can help or has expertise please contact Ray.

DB2 - Dianne raised her concern at the change to the rules, resulting in the gumi-arm playoff when players are tied on wins after the round robin phase (previously this had been done on points difference on matches involving the players who were tied on points). Players were caught unaware in an opening round robin in East Midlands which led to players having to play one quickly before starting the second round robin phase, leading to "farcical scenes".  Dianne feels it is a horrible way to resolve a tie in a group.  

An immediate ACTION on JP to update this on the website so all TDs have a resource to refer to what happens now when. DB2 hopes the FIR looks a better way to resolve this issue, it is like tossing a coin and is a horrible way to win or lose. In particular, as it was a 3 player round robin one player was cold as it began whereas the other two had just finished. SB - it also takes a long time, maybe 20 minutes. DS it is quite rare in FIR history, and it saves time and energy on wasted tennis to completion in a match you have lost. DB2 - I think this is worth discussing because it will happen in UK events more commonly. The UK Racketlon Board will ensure that player concerns around this are noted this year. 


After these questions, the AGM was concluded. 


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