I joined the Board of Tennis Scotland as a Volunteer Non-Exec Director in May 2018. I had previously spent 5 years on the Board of a small charity in Glasgow, and along with the commercial experience I had gained during my 20 years in Recruitment plus having been an (average at best) player, coach and (better, I hope) tennis parent, I went through the interview process and was successful in securing a place on the Board.
I realise I am privileged to hold this position and that it comes with huge responsibility.
The key to being a good Non-Exec is finding the balance between getting too involved and not doing anything at all. Your role is largely to support the Exec Team and Chief Executive, Blane Dodds, acting as a sounding board to the various initiatives and ideas that have to be delivered against the backdrop of an extremely tight budget (£1.8m p.a.). Your role is also to challenge some of these initiatives to make sure the organisation is acting in the best interest of the game in this country whilst adhering to the key strategic pillars of Tennis Scotland, namely: Performance, Participation, Competitions, Workforce Development and Facilities. This support and challenge primarily takes place at the 6 Board Meetings per annum that are held on a Monday evening and led by Chair, Scott Martin. I believe Blane and the Exec team have achieved so much over the last year including the following:
- Winning the right to host 1 of the 2 LTA GB National Academies at the University of Stirling which will launch in September 2019. The National Academy will cater for a maximum of 16 of the most promising 14-18 year old boys and girls in the UK
- Recruiting an absolute first class coaching team at the National Academy of Head Coach, Leo Azevedo, Lead Performance Coach Colin Fleming, Performance Advisor Esteban Carril and National Academy Performance Co-ordinator Bruno Argudo
- Implementing the new Regional Player Development Centres (RPDC) Programme with the high calibre coaching team of Karen Lamb, Jonny Willcox and Callum Lloyd
- Building momentum on the £15m LTA facility fund which aims to significantly increase the number of indoor courts across Scotland over the next 10 years. We currently now have 10 applications at stage 1 and 4 through to stage 2. This fund is aimed at supporting 3 or 4 court indoor centres and offers the opportunity to support up to 66% of the project costs. For more information click here:
- Appointing Mike Cohen to a new position of Competitions Manager. This is in recognition of the importance of increasing the number of competitions available to both junior and adult players of all abilities
- Further recruitment of top class talent including Karen Ross, Head of Inclusive Pathway and National Player Programme and Barbara Southern, Head of Finance
- Securing the services of Alan Lackie as advisor on Sponsorship. There is a much needed drive to increase income through commercial sponsorship partnerships. New sponsorship deals with Dunlop and Ellesse have been secured by the team
- Engaging Glasgow based PR / Media firm Frame to enhance our external communications
- The success of the Glasgow Trophy in 2018 which is part of the ATP Challenger Tour and it’s return this year, with the new name The Murray Trophy, being held at Scotstoun from 16th – 22nd September 2019
As a Non-Exec Board member you will be assigned a portfolio within the Exec team to support and partner with. My portfolio is Competitions and so I am working closely with Mike Cohen in his new role as Competitions Manager. This involves attending a quarterly Competitions Working Group which so far has had an emphasis on developing the TS Open Tour and also looking at getting a number of 1 day TS 300 events off the ground this year across Scotland with a view to creating a circuit and leader board for players with ratings between 10.2 and 7.1. The Competitions Working Group is also a forum to introduce new ideas for competitions. I am continually listening to the many tennis players, coaches and friends that I know around the country and am trying to introduce some of their ideas at this forum.
My other personal contributions during my first year have included bringing a couple of potential sponsors to the table and having an involvement in a couple of key appointments including our newest Board member Debbie Hood whose portfolio will be on the Marketing side of Tennis Scotland. Some of the highlights (and perks) of the role that I have enjoyed and attended over the last year have included: The Glasgow Trophy in May 2018 and seeing Scotland’s Jonny O’Mara reach and play in the Doubles Final; The Team Scotland Scottish Sports Awards Dinner in September 2018 with Colin Fleming and Karen Ross; and Tennis Scotland’s 1st Corporate Sponsor Day in April 2019 being delivered by Colin Fleming and Leon Smith. A further perk of being a Board member is getting access to one pair of Wimbledon tickets (which I pay for) so I am going to take my daughter Emily down to the middle Saturday next month.
Even though there has been significant progress made we recognise that there is still a lot to do particularly: increasing overall participation at all levels and ages across the country through a range of initiatives including through more competitive play inside our clubs; increasing the number of trained referees to support the drive in increased number of competitions; and better engagement with our Coaches across the Country recognising that a Coaches role is often quite isolated. Improved communication with players, coaches, parents, clubs, referees and the business community is also essential. It is also worth noting that a lot of the progress made above will take time to impact the every day player like you and me but I believe we are heading in the right direction.
I owe a big thank you to my employer Rutherford Cross, part of the Livingston James Group, who give all employees 2 CSR days per annum which gives me much needed additional time to attend the occasional daytime Tennis Scotland meetings.
Tennis Scotland are currently recruiting for 2 new Non-Exec Directors to join the Board of Tennis Scotland. It is a position that requires some time commitment but during this crucial period when Tennis Scotland and the LTA are trying to secure the ‘Murray Legacy’ there has probably never been a more interesting and important time to get involved. The Non-Exec Director role with Tennis Scotland is typically a 2 year post. For more information or to apply to become a Non Exec Director please click here: https://www3.lta.org.uk/in-your-area/Scotland/news/April-191/Board-Vacancies-/
If you would like to get in touch with me to discuss what is involved in being a Non Exec Director or regarding my role in supporting Competitions please email me on: [email protected].
Thanks and best wishes for the season.