My names Kerry. My favourite colour is purple. I drive a £500 T reg ford escort because it's all I can afford. I don't wear Pringle jumpers and my phone number is 07429208283.
Why am I telling you this? It's about transparency, you asked for it and maybe that's more than you wanted, and definitely not the right kind of transparency but it's on offer. Because I'm one of the people 'running surfing in the UK now'. The rest of us can be found here; http://surfinggb.com/who-are-we/
if you really want you can even find me on Facebook Kerry Surfinggb.
Sorry that I'm a bit late to the party ... but, well ... we're working very hard to straighten out what will be the NGB for surfing in this country and as you can appreciate - it takes a lot of work. It's ok. I'm here now.
Fortunately your thread was picked up by a parent of one of our juniors who are currently flying out to Panama. She emailed me late on Thursday when I was at the launch for the British Surfing Museum. Seemed a bit more painful to be surrounded by such nostalgia, and team photos of some of our great names in GB surfing that have represented the country. The ones that probably had hands put in pockets to support without questioning how much mummy and daddy earnt. Hopefully none of the KIDS picked it up, think it's shameful enough one of their parents did.
So I'm going to address 3 things here; bear with me because it might get a bit long but then I'm passionate about things. I guess that's what drives me to work over 100hrs a week when I am paid for 30. And why I'm responsible for communication. I love to talk. But I'll go into that in a bit.
First up. Our JUNIOR team heading out to Panama. The groms, grommets, children, juniors. You know. Those posh twats off on a jolly. Those kids that froth on surfing like any grommet at your locals beaches. The ones that have trained and worked hard to get through a selection process, that was publicised for all to see, to earn a place on our GREAT BRITISH TEAM. This may have lost value in your eyes but to a 14year old being asked to don a uniform and surf for their country I can assure you there is no less sparkle there.
Would any of these comments be raised at any of our other athletes about to compete at say the Olympics? Or other chosen sports? Or is it just because you see them as all coming from the South West where everyone is rolling in it and driving round in Mercedes* - *see opening paragraph for car details.
We would love to have a team with surfers from all over the UK and one day this WILL come. However we have inherited a pretty big mess to sort out and we are where we are. There is no BSA. No amount of reminiscing, or photos of meatheads in tight t-shirts is going to bring it back. It was closed down. Whether we like it or not it's gone.
We debated not sending a team to ISAWJG in view of what had gone on and the situation we were in, the money it would cost, but actually sending a team also speaks volumes about what we are trying to achieve. To give our youngsters with a passion for surfing something to aspire to. You know. The kids that choose Kelly Slater over David Beckham? The kids that we might see one day attending a surfing academy instead of a football one.
It very nearly didn't happen, but the kids that are on the GB team deserved to have the right to surf for their country after fighting so hard to win a slot. It didn't seem right to take dreams from children, some of whom will be too old next year if we had decided against it this year.
And what if we hadn't sent one? There'd be big questions about what on earth we were doing taking over SGB and not even being able to even sort out a GB team to go to the World Games. As they say in life. You can't please them all. But we are trying.
It didn't cost you anything. You who support us by paying your membership fees. They even had their own bank account. Those posh kids, who deserve to be out on the streets begging for money, and their posh parents rinsing credit cards, borrowing of friends and family to have the chance to represent Great Britain at their favourite sporting activity. But it's all right, cos their first names sound like mummy and daddy might have some money.
And while the article may refer to the bank of mum and dad, I think any of you who have children would agree that parents would do ANYTHING to make sure that their kids have everything they can afford give them. That is the bank of mum and dad.
Actually the fundraising will continue and we still have items to auction off. Because one day we hope you be able to give grants to up and coming groms from all areas so that they can come to the contests. Oh gosh ... have I started letting the cat out of the bag too early??
I think that's enough about the kids. If you want to follow them then we will be posting blogs, tweeting (@surfinggb) and writing updates on our Facebook page as well as hopefully getting live action link ups on the surfinggb website. We hope you will get behind YOUR Great British Juniors.
Why have I given you my phone number? Because we want you to talk to us.
If you let us know where you are we'll try our best to come and meet you (I'm sorry that Glasgow is a bit far but one of our directors did travel up to Scotland for the SSF AGM so you could meet one of us.) Unfortunately at the moment the majority of us are volunteers and pretty much all travel comes out of our pockets (even Ray's trip to Thurso), so we do it on a small scale but we'd love to try and get out to you.
I'm manning the front line at the moment. I'm being paid 30hrs a week but I think I represent great value as I work over 3 times that. But you only have my word for it because you aren't involved. You'll only know this if you received an email from me at gone midnight with a membership card on it, or answering one of your queries. You'll only know this if you read a thread from me on magic seaweed that I started writing at 9.30pm on Easter Saturday whilst taking a break from more admin paperwork. Oh ...
There are many of us though. Us egotistical nutters taken over the mad house, self-important pointlessly official bastards. Or as I have come to know them; a dedicated bunch of VOLUNTEERS that give up hundreds of hours of time to help try and sort out our NGB. (But you won't know them because you aren't involved.) That drive for at least an hour once a month to sit in meetings that go on till midnight having already been at the day job. Figuring out the next steps in a long process to straightening it all out and moving ever forwards. That get nothing in return but some sandwiches and strong coffee. We did vote on bringing our own food but I'm sure you all know how expensive petrol is and it's hard to concentrate on empty stomachs. We do car share so we can afford to do these meetings, and we also welcome people on Skype that are from much further afield. Further away from us posh twats in the South West.
We tried to shout as loud as we could about what we were trying to do. I think we did ok, we even have Scotland looking in, that may or may not get independence. We don't really mind as long as they surf and we can try and help them do that. I guess the politicians will sort out the rest so it's one less job for us to worry about.
As an aside did you know Cornwall has the biggest gap between earnings and cost of living in the country? It's poverty is on a par with Poland. Ironically I moved here from Saltburn, near Middlesbrough. You may have heard of Middlesbrough. It's also one of the poorest places in the country with some of the highest unemployment. My dad's family is from Ebbw Vale ... I guess we leave that debate there do we? There's always some area worse off, and sorry but I don't know anyone that's fairly flush these days which is why it's such a contested subject. It's not massively relevant to surfing, the 'sport of kings', that changed my life. Thankfully someone opened the flood gates and they will let anyone do it these days. I don't know where this perception came of it only being the sport of rich middle class people. Most of my friends can't even afford a car!!
You can find most of us SGB lot on twitter, stalking the @surfinggb account and trying to get a buzz going on from what we are trying to do. In the hope that we will engage people such as yourselves, and you may get involved with what we are trying to achieve. We stepped forward because like yourselves we were angry at what was happening with the NGB of our chosen sport. Or rather NOT happening.
You talk about what do you get in return for your money? For your £20. Well I'm working very hard to get members benefits together so that everyone gets something that we hope will more than cover this cost (I guess £30 or so of your next new board isn't that bad). As well as the insurance. The insurance that you already have a thread running about somewhere. There's key facts about THAT insurance on the website. From my point of view it's worth it for that. If I get somebody hitting me in the face with 6ft of fibreglass I want to know they are insured, lets not pretend it doesn't happen. What if somebody hits a kid coming in on the inside? My head can probably take that much board, not sure theirs would be so resilient. There is some pretty cool stuff on there already. We're always looking for more so if you know anyone that would be interested in offering something then please give them my phone number. I love to talk.
I mentioned a lot of us. There's another key player in all of this. He's called Matt Knight. I didn't really know him before I got involved in all of this. I'd judged his children at a few contests but actually, he's a pretty cool guy. He's also, I am beginning to realise, part machine. He works more hours then I do, often emailing at 3am, and he has a family. His lovely wife Suzanne helps us as well. They are volunteers. Imagine that. He commits that much time to our sport and gets nothing in return. Not even his expenses covered. Which are vast. But you won't know this cause you aren't involved.
He is my rock.
His father passed away recently. He was even continuing to work from the hospital at his father's death bed. That's how committed he is to bringing about an NGB people like you can be proud of. One that some how recovers from a large number of the sports participants from hating on and being angry at it's governing body. That has all members screaming and cheering for their GB team members as they go and fly our flag at contests. But you wouldn't know that. Because you aren't involved.
He'd be happy for you to call him also. But he's in Panama. 2 of his kids are on the team and actually, we needed a team manager. CUE GRUMBLING ABOUT ALL EXPENSES PAID JOLLIES IN TROPICAL COUNTRIES.
We tried to look for someone else. Matt has enough on his plate, answering emails on an inbox that increases by the minute as he's responding to one, writing policies, re writing policies, dealing with potential sponsors, press, etc etc. Unfortunately we didn't have long to get someone in place once we had decided to go with sending a team. Someone that could take that much time off work to go unpaid to Panama. We're sure some of you may be or may know people that would be suited to the roll and we welcome their applications for the next trip.
So there Matt is. They are currently flying. He's off on his jolly that involves organising 12 teenagers to fly across the world to Panama. That involved organising flights, injections, travel insurance, connections, accommodation, transfers, etc etc for a team of 15 within the last month. That involves keeping safe and under control 12 teenagers and 2 Welsh coaches 24/7 for nearly 3 weeks. Teenagers that will have wins and losses whilst being very far away from their parents, in a foreign country, with funny food and bugs and stuff. I'm fairly sure if any of my school trips as a teenager are anything to go on it may be a little like herding cats at times. Hardly a jolly as you may begin to appreciate.
Why am I telling you all this? Well because it's about transparency. And actually. I have a confession. I told a little white lie up there. At the start. Sorry. You see when you ask who is running surfing in this country, it isn't actually me, or Matt, or any of our team. We're just taking care of it for YOU. We're trying to listen to you all and what YOU want and make sure we're taking surfing in this country to where it should be. We're a members led organisation and we're just like all of you. We're passionate about or sport ... well I say that ... thats a little bit of a lie also. We aren't a sport. We aren't recognised as one. Which is why we need an NGB. We'd just rather you did it directly, so we can answer before a thread get's over a month old and we just happen to stumble on it. We're happy to answer questions and take phone calls.
And finally I get to my last point (hurrah I hear you cry!!) I want to say thank you. For taking the time to write this thread.
For writing these comments;
" I can't imagine surfing GB will start taking kids from deprived areas of glasgow surfing
anyway, what would interest me , from a social inclusion perspective, was if 'the governing body' invested time and effort in getting kids with troubled / poverty / poor educational backgrounds into surfing and put some time into widening the net
a national body should be there to drawn down funds from central government (Sport England) to support up and coming athletes.
if they brought back the old structure regional champs certain number qualify for nationals [ welsh scottish nth irish and english...] and theres your british team for better or for worse
network of strong local clubs building a community and supporting local surfers with transport etc
always running things in schools etc for everybody all over the country
seriously if there is someone reading my advice is start at the bottom"
Because actually, unless you have a spy in our midst at every meeting and on every email this is EXACTLY what we wish to achieve. That hearing you asking for those things tells us without you speaking to us that we ARE doing what you want. What our surfers in the UK want. And if you don't want it and you don't want an NGB then we can all go back to our normal lives and put it to bed.
You just confirmed that all the hours are worth it, and that you ARE involved wether you have paid or not.
And that more importantly you CARE about surfing. Because what would be worse then getting slagged off is if no-one was bothered at all.
Yes the end goal is a high flying World Champ. Imagine that. We all sit down to watch Bells in 10years time and there's a Union Jack flying that isn't part of any Ozzy or Hawaiian flag. That's also backed up by flags from Wales, Scotland, Yorkshire Roses, Cornwall, Devon, or where ever our amazing athlete comes from.
But how do you think we get there? It's by looking after our grass roots. It's by ensuring that Saltburn Surf Club* (*insert your own club, school, company etc here) has the support, the structure, the standards and the access to funding or sponsorship that an NGB can drive. Yes you can strike out and do it alone and many clubs do. But it's easier for Sport England or Sport UK or Scotland or the EU to dish out one LARGE pot of funding for an NGB to administer than lots of little pots. I know. I've heard it from the horses mouth.
We can't do this without paying wages. At some point Matt has to go back to the real world and start earning some money to support his family. He has put his own business plans on hold to take this bull by the horns. And what that means is memberships to some degree so we can pay people in the roles that are needed. Yes there are grants but we want to be able to access them to pay them forward to you, not pay wages. That's what your membership also goes towards. We're asking people to take a vote of confidence with their feet. Sitting on the sidelines and waiting to see what happens doesn't help us get participation levels up to enable recognition by the government that we are a sport. It doesn't help us pay to print out booklets for school kids and clubs, or maybe buy a mini bus to help take our projects and some disadvantage children to the beach for free lessons. Or give an SGB grant out so that any one of the fantastic projects in the UK doing just that can carry on doing it.
If any of you magically have an Ian Cairns type figure up your sleeve that will do all this work for free then please pass them my phone number. I would be more than happy to take that phone call.