The key to writing a good column is to make sure I capture you, the reader’s, attention in the first paragraph. I’m taking my life in my hands by this week focusing on the key task facing Cycling Southland over coming weeks – strategic planning.
The mere mention of those two words tends to generate a glassy-eyed look and a quick change in conversation, yet they are the foundation that any sport, business or organisation is built on.
I’ve always thought of a strategic plan like a road map. If you gave me an address and asked me to get there without a map, I would probably eventually arrive – but without the direction a map (or strategic plan) provides, I would likely waste a lot of time, energy and money in getting there.
Cycling in Southland is at an interesting juncture. The sport continues to grow at a rapid rate at competitive and recreational levels. Each year we host local, national and international events and after the success of last year’s Junior World Track Championships, the public has a greater appetite for international competition. When you add in the development of a second velodrome in Cambridge in 2014 and what that will mean for Invercargill’s facility, this is the perfect time to create an exciting roadmap for the sport in the south.
It’s a really exciting process to go through. There are plenty questions. Finding answers is the fun bit. The question we get asked most often relates to the Cambridge velodrome. As a consequence, I’ve got pretty good at answering it.
We already have assurances from BikeNZ that events will continue to be hosted in Invercargill and that arrangement is to be formalized over coming months. It’s hard to give you an idea of just how much work is involved in hosting events like the recent Elite and Age Group Championships. Our staff of just five and our incredible volunteers (another 40 or so) collectively put in weeks of work to deliver nine long days of racing over the champs and that comes at a real cost. Two facilities sharing championship events will not only make that workload more sustainable, avoiding burn-out locally, but it will also allow Cycling Southland to concentrate on our bread-and-butter – putting more Southlanders on bikes.
Stadium Southland Velodrome is a community facility first and foremost. It will continue to host major events (the Oceania Championships and a new UCI Level 1 track event are both ear-marked for Invercargill later this year) and with the development of an integrated national calendar and the opening of a rebuilt Stadium Southland, we’ll get the best of both worlds – high profile marquee events with more time and space to continue to develop the sport at a grass-roots local level.
Opportunity abounds. Over these next few weeks, we’ll be refining our road-map so that we’ll be able to turn that opportunity in to more success. It should be a fun ride.
Nick Jeffrey is the Chief Executive of Cycling Southland.