Edition number 14; dateline 29 February 2008

MPs to Matlock: a challenge issued
Thank goodness the government recruited a manager of Jennie Price’s calibre to run England’s strategic sports development agency; we might have got someone who dealt in superficial stunts rather than considered, long-term development. And given that the London-based quango is currently being reviewed [again] how reassuring it is to hear about the second phase of its “Take Your MP to Work” scheme. According to their press office, the heavyweight initiative, which labours under the official soubriquet of Sport England’s Parliamentary Sports Fellowship Scheme, gives “MPs and Lords the opportunity to spend seven days each with some of the nation’s sporting organisations to promote better understanding between the worlds of sport and politics”. Bodies where Parliamentarians have passed a working week and more in order to gain “a unique insight… from grass-roots right up to competition level” include the England & Wales Cricket Board, the Lawn Tennis Association and the Football Association. What chance one of them venturing to Matlock to give orienteering the once over?

That leap year question: another challenge
As this incarnation of Row Z goes to press on 29 February, Sideliner is keen not to let the once-in-a-quadrennium opportunity pass without somehow joining in. The only tradition available to be tailored to our need is, of course, the one about women being allowed to ask men to marry them. So what questions could we ask that convention generally prevents us from voicing? Were we Chinese we would have a host of them, from “Do you know where all the beggars have got to?” to “Why is it so smoggy round here when the government says it’s not?” If we worked for the Youth Sport Trust we could use the opportunity to ask Sue Campbell if there might just possibly be an alternative way of doing things that might conceivably, potentially, actually link schools to clubs. And if we really screwed up our courage we could always ask Jennie Price for whom she is actually constructing her shiny Delivery System for Sport when in a straw poll of 50 sports volunteers conducted last week for Row Z only one person recognised the initials ‘CSP’, none could say what the letters stood for nor define what a county sports partnership is or does and, even worse, only two had even the vaguest recollection of having ever heard the name of their own CSP. Should any of the top people at any one of our 49 CSPs be reading this, and we know you do, you might need to find yourself a communications consultant. [May I suggest this one? Ed]

The Leisure Review summer conference
And talking about incestuous internal promotion, the Row Z admin lady who does mornings has unearthed the date for this year’s inaugural TLR summer conference. Apparently the “high heid yins” as they would be called if they came from a Rebus novel and not Oxford, have settled on Saturday 5 July as the date on which to invite all TLR subscribers and contributors to the cultural and leisure event of the season. Modelled on the highly successful TLR mid-winter event, the day will see a short cultural tour featuring a re-enactment of the Kinder Trespass, the most significant event in the battle for the Right to Roam on Britain’s mountains and moors. No heads will be broken; dogs welcome. Trespassers will then be guided across Kinder Scout and along the Pennine Way before dropping down to a purpose-built meeting facility to consider the cultural implications of the cotton trade with the Asian sub-continent for the community and cuisine of northern England. The day will conclude with a low-level walking tour of significant landmarks in the old mill town of Glossop with regular opportunities for networking and debate. Only individuals on the distribution department’s subscribers list are going to be invited so if you are one of the ten thousand guerrilla consumers who read Row Z without sending your email address to the subscription department you had better mend your ways; smartly like. Do it now, do it here.

Hot off the press
At the turn of the year Row Z resolved to stop its gentle ribbing of friends at ISRM and ISPAL for fear we be perceived as somehow ‘negative’ towards the sport management sector’s two professional bodies. Thus it is that the column has been bereft of references to either our Reading- or Loughborough-based chums for a couple of months despite our avowed fondness for them both. However, when something of major import occurs, something worth supporting, something that may take the industry forwards, it seems churlish not to at least note it. So it is that we are temporarily breaking our self-imposed embargo to tell you that ISPAL have launched a brand new members’ magazine, called Inform. The quarterly title, which will presumably compete directly with ISRM’s Recreation for advertising revenue if not readers, hits industry professionals’ breakfast tables and in-trays at a significant time for ISPAL: just as their inherited members are being asked to renew their annual membership of the body formed by conjoining ILAM and NASD. Will the highly colourful 40-page mix of institute updates and in-depth industry analysis influence members to continue their support? Only time and the ISPAL membership department will tell.

Will Nottingham finally come of age?
There has been a growing concern among the people contacting the Row Z office in recent months that the national sports development seminar is not going to be delivered in 2008, what should be its 17th consecutive year. ‘Nottingham’ went ahead last June under the auspices of ISPAL but with that organisation now promoting an all-encompassing industry conference “nr Warwick” on 4 June it seems the 300 or so sports development professionals used to descending on the East Midlands will be robbed of their annual opportunity for updating, upskilling and networking. Rumour has it that a cabal of like-minded individuals including some of those who delivered the early seminars are coming together shortly to debate whether the industry actually needs 'Nottingham' and what to do about it if it decides it does. A rumour that The Leisure Review is somehow involved led Row Z to approach TLR's editor, Mr Ives, for comment. “I can’t deny that the subject has cropped up in conversation over recent months with a number of people,” he said when pressed. “Having been involved in the seminar in one role or other for many years, I have a great personal affection for the event. As an independent forum within the industry, The Leisure Review would be delighted to see the event continue. If anyone shares this view and might be able to play a part in making that happen I would be equally delighted to talk to them.” Mr Ives can be contacted via the usual TLR routes.

Miles of dancing and all for a good cause
And finally, despite the fact that you have to pay £5 to enter a Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile and none of that goes to charity, we have been leant on by TLR’s managing editor to tell you all that our host organ will be doing its best to support this year’s fund-raising. At least the managing editor will. He claims that if sufficient TLR readers pledge £10 to the cause he will not walk a mile, not jog a mile, he will not even run a mile; instead Mick Owen – for it is he, former rugby playing, hard-drinking, bar-room-brawling Mick Owen – will DANCE a mile. He thinks his quickstep, a thing of beauty in itself, will count for about half of the distance before he gets too dizzy but with the help of an old school ruler, a pedometer and a scientific calculator he claims he can cha cha cha at the rate of 25 yards per minute,  which for the imperially challenged among you means he’ll be throwing New Yorkers and Turkish Towels for about 33 minutes. Now that has to be worth £10 of anybody’s money.



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