Row Z edition 64; dateline 5 April 2012

Tennis development? Not in this country.
The news that the Lawn Tennis Association has had more than half a million pounds knocked off its annual bung from Sport England throws into sharp relief the process in which the national sports development agency disburses its largesse to the larger governing bodies. While it is highly likely that an axe will now swing through the lower reaches of the tennis establishment and it is almost certain that Roger Draper will remain in post as it whistles by, no thought is given to the future employment prospects of the people who signed off on the grant that is now being reduced. Instead of increasing the numbers of adults participating in tennis the LTA has seen more than 100,000 people stop playing a game which, courtesy of Andy Murray, garners far more column inches than it deserves and is always (well, occasionally) on the telly. A quick survey of the Row Z office suggests that 100% of staffers, interns and various people in out of the snow (yes snow!) subscribe to the mantra that “the best way to stop people using tennis courts is to start up a tennis club” and were not in the least surprised that the LTA had failed in their half-hearted attempts to move lawn tennis beyond Middle England. Why then had none of the smart people at Sport England spotted it and why are they sitting pretty as various tennis development professionals prepare for a summer scrabbling for bits of coaching work when they had expected to be driving from leafy enclave to leafy enclave in a company car “supporting volunteers” and “building partnerships”?

Playing games with legacy numbers
Where to start on the Community Games? Apparently this is a question perplexing more than just Sideliner with administrators at various county sports partnerships among those scratching their heads about what is required. Their vexation will doubtless be ameliorated by the excessive amounts being dolled out. We understand that the headline figure is £2 million with each CSP getting about £20,000 but, as the targets that need to be hit in return for the funding remain vague, the simplest strategy seems to be spending a few grand on re-branding a couple of village fetes and using the remainder for the partnership golf day. What is sure is that £2 million could have been much better spent had there been fewer “partners” in the programme with Legacy Trust UK, the YMCA, the CSPN and all the individual CSPs being able to top-slice their little bit of the action as they “bring a taste of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to millions of people throughout England”. Amid the PR guff that surrounds this waste of public money is the delightfully unlikely claim that the whole farrago “will benefit from the CSPN’s expertise in promoting physical activity participation at a local level”. We all thought the CSPN was a national agglomeration of sub-regional agencies whose role in life was to provide a strategic lead for sport in whichever county they sat in. It seems we were wrong.

Hot Gossip and the LGA
On the subject of being wrong, Councillor Flick Rea, who revels not only in a name not seen since Hot Gossip livened up Top of the Pops every Thursday evening but also in the title of “Chair LGA Culture, Tourism and Sport Board”, has made a number of howlers in her April newsletter. We love an email-based newsletter at Row Z if only as they so often offer opportunities for us to use our “you should have got a professional to help you with that” expression. Flick (you don’t mind if we call you Flick do you?) makes the usual array of typos but her most noteworthy canard is in calling the LGA (Local Government Association, in case you wondered) conference on culture, tourism and sport “the definitive event for our sector”. With a head count of 140 (probably including speakers, exhibitors and organising team) in the room, this claim is either fallacious, in which case shame on you, Councillor, or true, in which case the sector is well and truly stuffed.

The old ones are the best
The LGA conference does at least give us the chance to roll out a tried and tested joke much beloved at Row Z Towers. It seems friend of TLR and head honcho at the Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy, Duncan Wood-Allum, took a stand at the Cardiff conference. Against what, Duncan? Tuition fees? The beer tax escalator? Or battery farming of eggs in the EU? Arf.

You say potato and we say we do that
Whenever we welcome a new intern to the bosom of the Row Z family we like to give her or him a nice, easy assignment to launch them into the stormy waters of cutting-edge, modern-day, diary columnary. We find them a fish in a barrel to shoot at, if you like. This month the lass with the masters degree in sport and recreation business management but no job was asked to find something funny to say about the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity and after twenty minutes on Twitter and a tour of the internet she asked what exactly the organisation was for. Sideliner, who naturally delegates dealing with the kids on work experience to the nearest idle pair of hands, was surprised to hear the lairy graphic designer say that “they advocate as the ‘one voice for sport’, I think”. Which is queer as that’s exactly what the CSP Network says CSPs are for.

With a single bound
And while on the subject of what we have learned to call CIMSPA, we can confirm that after all the years in gestation and the many, many months since the interim chief executive was appointed members of the organisation’s leadership (and we use that word as no other cliché springs to mind) are currently talking in terms of another taking another 18 months before they know what the organisation is going to do. We have also heard, but failed to raise the enthusiasm to ring and check, that someone has invested in a bottle of Tippex and used it to promote Sean Holt to the corner office permanently. Doubtless we missed the advertisement for the job when it was in the London Times in the same way as we missed the announcement that the Holtster had been upgraded in the popular leisure press but we wish everyone involved in the new institute the very best of British luck.

Not a single sound
And while we’re on the subject of shy and retiring professional bodies, has anyone heard anything from CLOA recently? Sadly, despite being the only independent magazine serving the professionals who work in sport, leisure and culture with readers whose job titles include words like ‘chief’, ‘director’ and ‘head of’ as a matter of course we have heard nary a dicky bird since about February, which was just about the time they started to pay someone over £20,000 per annum to do their PR.

Could it happen here?
Football Federation Australia, the antipodean equivalent of our own beloved FA, have launched a strategy designed “to achieve the vision of getting more Indigenous Australians playing football and being involved in football coaching, refereeing and administration”. The plan is called Football Dreaming and seems, from half a world away, to be teetering on the very edge of glibly patronising. The FFA, however, clearly mean well and doubtless encouraging “supporting associations and clubs to be able to cater for Indigenous Australians to participate in football” is the right way to go, rather like the self same organisation’s decision to name their women’s squad the Matildas.

Light-fingered, green-fingered gathering in
It seems that the Tate’s photographic archive was at some point last month rescued from a skip, although the V&A had already lost its archive in a similar direction. This will come as some comfort to former ILAM members who may not have realised that the photographic archives of the leisure sector’s erstwhile professional body ended up on a skip some time ago with nary a backwards glance from the custodians of “the new institute”. Parkies mourning the loss of images recording award-winning borders and beautifully mowed lawns will be pleased to hear that moles working for the good of green-fingered mankind did manage salvage some of the archive and, for a fee not far from a couple of pints, will share the joy of sepia-tinted silage at the drop of a pair of secateurs.





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