It is customary, at the beginning of each year, to fix your gaze forward and assess what the next 12 months might hold. For SAPCA, 2019 promises to be a year of change and continued development and growth.
One of the most visible changes will be the one facing the composition of the SAPCA board. A number of current board members will be stepping down during the AGM in June. The need to fill these vacancies gives us an opportunity to modernise our governance and to fulfil the pledge made in 2017 to move towards a more skills-based board.
To ensure we attract the best possible candidates, we will be encouraging people from all corners of the sports and play construction sector to apply for board roles. We will have a number of vacancies to fill and some of these will be reserved for people with specific skills.
We are also looking to add one further independent board member, adding to the presence of Michelle Leavesley. The changes follow on from those made last year, when we reduced the number of elected positions by three and replaced them with three new specialist positions – covering technical, marketing and export promotion.
The exact details of the application process for the board roles will be announced in the run up to the SAPCA Conference on 13 March.
As well as being good practice, the changes we are making to the board are, in part, a response to the Code for Sports Governance, published by UK Sport and Sport England in 2016. The guidance is a mandatory code which sets out the levels of transparency, accountability and financial integrity required from UK sports organisations.
Among the code’s recommendations is that 25 per cent of each organisation’s board should be occupied by independent, non-executive directors. While SAPCA doesn’t receive public funding, and therefore isn’t directly under the “jurisdiction” of the new code, it is only right that we meet the highest standards set for the industry we serve.
One of the things I am hoping to add through my role as chairman is to strengthen the relationships SAPCA has with external stakeholders – such as Sport England. By modernising our governance and bringing it into line with Sport England guidance, we demonstrate that we believe in the new code and support the body’s plans to improve and develop all aspects of grassroots sport.
Fittingly, SAPCA’s pledge to modernise its governance was made in 2017, the year the association celebrated its 20th anniversary. By delivering on that pledge we are ensuring that we are getting ourselves ready for the next 20 years – and the challenges that lay ahead.