The Glen Eira Moorabbin Softball Association (GEMSA), affiliated with Softball Victoria, were rewarded with Homeplate status in 2018/19 for the second time, achieved through hard work and an ongoing commitment for improvement.
(Words by Softball Australia)
Glen Eira Moorabbin Softball Association’s main goals in 2018/19 were to increase membership, achieved with an 18% growth in membership. The Association focused particularly in growing their junior age groups, appeal to past members to re-join, ensure their members were made aware of development opportunities, continue efforts to work towards a child-safe organisation and create a family-friendly, inclusive environment which they believe in turn, has helped to retain, and attract, new members.
Like many Associations, GEMSA held a Come and Try Day prior to the season commencing and continue to use social media as much as possible for promotion of the Association. Barbara Lewis, former President and current Committee member of GEMSA explains,
“We had a very dedicated recruitment officer and ensured we followed up any potential leads for new players,” said Lewis.
“We do not turn players away, even if this has been tricky in terms of team make-up. We’ve encouraged players to participate in representative teams and take up any Softball Victoria development activities. With a small, but hard-working committee, we have strived to make our members feel included and encouraged.”
The Association believes its growth in membership has been greatly assisted by the inclusion of their men’s team, who have brought with them a wealth of experience and a much-needed pathway for their juniors. They were buoyed by the addition of a second U12 team and growth was further aided by returning members, together with a few new senior members. They fielded two Masters teams in Victorian Championships, previously only fielding one and this, in turn, has increased the playing experience of players from their domestic competition.
GEMSA completed the Sport Australia Club Health Check in 2019 and this has still highlighted many areas they are working towards improving. Barbara explains,
“With a small, but hard-working committee, we acknowledge we must look to increase our volunteer pool, look at splitting roles and responsibilities and ensure those on the committee must be provided with clear descriptions of what their role entails,” said Lewis.
“We have areas that must take a high priority, not the least of which is to finalise areas around governance; with our areas of culture and leadership and decision-making faring well, but still with work to do.
“We utilised the Homeplate website to review resources and referred to templates and examples provided, so we are not “reinventing the wheel” when it comes to having good policies and procedures in place. We also found useful, information available around marketing, fundraising, succession planning, amongst much other important information.”
Social 7s and Inclusive Programs
GEMSA are particularly proud of their Social 7’s competition, which they have a dedicated person taking on the task of running the program.
“The main purpose of this competition was to increase club membership and provide a fun, social form of softball that would appeal to a broad range of people, from those who have never played softball, those returning to softball from high school days and even those who are still playing very competitive fastpitch softball,” added Lewis.
“We have now run six short seasons of six to eight weeks over February and March, and October and November for the last three years. Participants have varied from season to season, but the consistent attendees have been existing club members, playing competitive softball who love this fun, fast and social version of the game.
“Ages range from 13 years to over 60. Younger children have also sometimes been ‘runners’ but safety and skill level is always a consideration before anyone can join in. The number of participants on any given week varies from about 18 to 40 but the key to success is to be flexible with team formation and accommodate everyone who comes along.”
- Generates a small amount of revenue for the Association
- Has seen the return of players to competitive softball who have been effectively ‘lost’ to softball including young people and those returning to play masters softball
- Increases the utilisation of the beautifully prepared Glen Eira playing fields
- Generates interest in softball from people attending Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre
- Gets people out playing ball sports who may not have otherwise participated in this type of game
- Families make teams and play together
- Generates camaraderie, friendship and goodwill
GEMSA are also proud to have one of their committee members participating in the Softball NT Remote Ambassador program spreading the softball word to regional Australian communities on Elcho Island which is a wonderful example of the association’s commitment and passion for the sport.
“We always encourage our members to partake in volunteer roles with Softball Victoria and we see them as great ambassadors also for our Association, all of which helps to promote our brand.”
Every year, the Association assist with running a T-ball clinic as part of International Day of Disability, held in December, with people with disability from the local community invited to come and try a number of different sporting activities at the Glen Eira Sports and Aquatic Centre and Bailey Reserve, Bentleigh East.
This day is co-ordinated by Marriott Support Services, in conjunction with many others. The Association encourages junior members to assist on the day and this gives them a great awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities.
GEMSA is always striving for improvement in what has become a very competitive sporting environment.
“We are proud of our achievements and have lauded many successes, including our high participation in Softball Victoria’s inaugural women’s invitational event,” added Lewis.
“Four new franchises were established for the first season of the competition, each with their own ambassador selected to lead each organisation on the diamond. GEMSA had several players selected and were honored to have two players named as ambassadors with three of our players named in the All-Star team.”