Micklefield Judo Club was formed in 1973 by John Oke, Ron Cleere and Arthur Lovell and has been providing judo sessions for children and adults, beginners and experienced judoka in the High Wycombe area ever since.
The club grew quickly in the 1980s and began to travel abroad visiting, training and competing against clubs across Europe. With a growing membership (currently standing at 178) and ambitious development plans, Micklefield looked to invest in its own governance structure so that it was in a strong position to achieve those ambitions and more.
In 2008 the club achieved Sport England ClubMark accreditation status, recognising the club’s commitment in ensuring a safe environment to practice judo as well as effective self-governance. Their status was subsequently revalidated in 2011 and 2015.
“What really started us off on ClubMark accreditation was that we wanted to tap into funding streams and one of the best ways to do that is to get yourself accredited with ClubMark”, said Micklefield Judo Club Chairman, Paul Horseman.
Part of the accreditation process requires clubs to create and implement policies and procedures to help them operate more effectively. “We began to realise that it was quiet useful having policies, procedures and risk assessments in place at the club as this really allows you to organise yourself better. There are quite a lot of organisational benefits we got from going through the ClubMark process.
“We carried out a formal Health and Safety risk assessment which looked at the club environment and if it was a safe place to practice judo. This revealed the need for a few protective coverings on a couple of exposed objects, a small adjustment to the way our tea and coffee facilities were operated and a few changes to our coaching practices which ensured there were additional coaches on the mat during randori.
Policies and procedures that are well communicated and clearly visible can help to build trust with a club’s membership.
“There were a lot of unwritten rules at the club, like you can’t go onto the mat with your shoes on for example but what ClubMark and the governance focus has done is give us that extra bit of structure, formality and visibility. We can now point to a sign on the noticeboard explaining this and other rules so that it is all there for all to see.
“We’ve managed to put down some written policies terms of code of conduct for coaches so everybody knows what they’ve got to do. Previously, we didn’t have too much in the way of a players code of conduct but now we do so there are regular reminders regarding etiquette and safety that happened throughout the year.
An important element of good self-governance is establishing an effective management structure.
Micklefield Judo Club have managed to attract and retain a core group of staff that run the club. Paul is supported by Treasurer Ian Lane who looks after the club’s finances and Sam Dobrowolski who is secretary of the club as well as a senior coach. The rest of the coaching staff is made up of Paul Pusey and Ian Rose while Laura Plumridge and Dan Linehan look after the juniors. Martin Kempton and Sonya Stone are welcoming faces at the door to new members and parents. Martin and Sonya also provides first aid cover alongside several other qualified volunteers. There is also a group of parents that organise social and fund raising activities and competition entries.
“The biggest bit of advice I’d give to other clubs wanting to improve their governance would be to get a good set of support volunteers in place. We’ve really tried to embrace as many people as we can to get them doing little bits here and pieces so there is not a huge responsibility and burden on one person. From a governance point of view it gives us more time focus on the bigger picture and to organise ourselves more effectively”.
Micklefield recognised by that holding an end of year/start of year meeting they were able to plan in advance the club’s activities for the next 12 months and set targets they want to achieve.
“We’ve found it really beneficial as it gets everyone aware of what’s happening and when throughout the year”, Paul explained. “This gives the coaches and our judoka the ability to get their dates in their diaries for events they want to attend”.
The club’s committee also meets on a regular basis throughout the year to discuss issues effecting the club and are in communication on a daily basis about a range of other issues.
“To be ClubMark accredited for as long as we have demonstrates that we’re a reasonably well run club which is something we can be proud of but we’re always looking to be better.
“I think good governance is important for progression for clubs. Good governance helps you to identify and address any potential pitfalls in advance so there aren’t any surprises. I think a lot of clubs would benefit from implementing some of the policies and procedures we have put in place at Micklefield”, concluded Paul.
The club recently received a grant of £3,880 for one of its satellite clubs to buy some additional mats, suits for beginners and marketing materials to promote their sessions. Establishing an effective and efficient governance structure at their club played a part in their funding bid and will continue to play a role as the club moves forward.
Would your club like to improve it’s structure and overall governance? Click here to sign up to ClubMark to start your club’s journey towards more effective governance.