Our journey began when the National Rounders Association was formed by a small group of teachers in 1943, with the primary aim of standardising the rules. The Association continued in an entirely volunteer capacity to develop standardised rules, competitions, adult clubs, and to support school Rounders development. In the mid 1970’s an England adult team was selected, and matches were played against Wales.
How The Development Of The Rounders England Infrastructure Has Led To Effective Sports Delivery
Rounders England are proud that over a period of just twelve years, the delivery and expectations of our sport has gone from being perceived as a school activity with the occasional ad hoc and informal team playing for fun in local parks’ and an England team that many were unaware of, to a sport with clear and defined playing pathways and ever increasing playing opportunities.
Likewise the number of recorded sustainable play continues to increase year on year with the development of a membership database. This has enabled better and more effective communications.
As with any developing organisation, growth cannot be achieved overnight. We strongly believe that the development of our infrastructure is what has supported the growth in Rounders play and delivery.
Here is how we did it.
Formerly recognised as The National Rounders Association (NRA) we received a small grant to pay a part time member of staff, which enabled the organisation to take the first small step in moving away from being volunteer-led to a more formal and structured organisation.
Following an increase in funding, Rounders was able to employ two full time members of staff working from home.
A Building Capacity Grant enabled the governing body to make another full time appointment to the role of National Office Manager, one of whose responsibilities it was to find suitable office accommodation, as formerly all employees had worked from home. Following discussions with Westfield Sports College in Sheffield, an incentive agreement was reached and a very small office space was secured.
A Business Administrator was employed and a further grant was received to support The UK Coaching Framework which enabled the organisation to make a further full time appointment.
In December 2008, Rounders secured £2.2 million from Sport England for its Whole Sport Plan 2009 – 2013. At the same time the NRA was rebranded as Rounders England, with the new logo and name helping to project a more professional, modern organisation with a broader appeal.
A move to new, bigger premises in April 2009 meant core staff could work from the same office. The summer of 2009 was challenging, purchasing office furniture, installing new IT and a new telephone system as well as implementing many other operational requirements.
During this period, we recruited to six new staff positions and with the sudden growth had to put new policies, procedures and guidelines in place. The new appointments increased the total number of staff to twelve incorporating a mix of full and part time positions. Rounders England also started the process of revising its articles and developing a new Board structure, to reflect its professionalisation and the principles of good governance..
The new UKCC level 1 Rounders qualification was endorsed and delivery of the qualification commenced in October 2009.
Rounders England was keen to make the sport more accessible all year round. The indoor game was developed and piloted during the winter of 2009 by the South Yorkshire league and the Hull Works Sports Association.
In 2010 the results of the growing infrastructure and increased investment started to show positive effects on Rounders delivery. There was an increase across all membership categories, increases in the number of courses, festivals, taster days, and corporate events. Two new membership categories were introduced to include SSP’s and STAR Centres and a new range of more user friendly and modern resources were developed which were very well received, evident in the increased number of sales.
A new working partnership and kit sponsor was agreed with Rounders England working alongside Kukri to launch a new England playing kit.
During May of 2010 a new website was launched, resulting in better on line service and an increased number of website hits. Later in the year the development of an online payment facility allowed our resources to be purchased online and again there was a considerable increase in sales due to this. Digital communication was also enhanced with the introduction of a Facebook page for the organisation.
Later in the year a fourth Regional Rounders Officer (RRO) was employed to work in and concentrate on the development of Rounders in the West Midlands. The winter also saw more indoor Rounders being played across the country, supported heavily by taster sessions and indoor leagues.
With a stable and strategic staffing structure in place and a solid infrastructure, the beginning of 2011 maximised on the benefits of this support and saw the sport of Rounders develop and grow in terms of participation.
A university membership category was added to the membership database and we improved communication with our more occasional and informal players.
The RROs revised and developed strategies for working with universities, volunteers and developed accessible options for disabled players and reviewed the current Star Centre (Satellite training academies for Rounders) model, all of which should result in even more playing opportunities.
Where indoor Rounders has made the sport even more accessible, students from St Francis Special School in Lincoln took part in a game of wheelchair Rounders to launch the Lincolnshire Wheelchair Rounders Project. The initiative, managed by Lincolnshire Sports Partnership, and supported by Rounders England was the first of its kind in the country and has been rolled out to selected areas of the country.
Rounders England also developed links with RFU clubs across England who expressed an interest in hosting Rounders during their out of season period over the summer. Targeted at a mixed audience of rugby players looking to keep involved with the club during the off season, and their wives and friends, this initiative introduces more women to the rugby clubs, increases footfall commercially and gives Rounders players good quality facilities.
Although the amount of international competition continued to be a struggle, the England Rounders squads go from strength to strength. The U14 team even went to Dubai in February of this year where they won all of their matches against school and league sides.
Supporting the increased play requires an increase in qualified coaches and umpires and as the number of Rounders England courses completed grew from month to month, the demand for higher level coaches has also increased and so the UKCC Level 2 course was launched in April 2011.
2012 saw a successful application to Sport England for the development of Rounders. £2.2 million was awarded for the next 4 years, 2013 – 2017.
2013 – 2017
2013 saw the first year of our new Whole Sport Plan. The 4 year plan focussed on increasing participation in Rounders by people over the age of 16. Our mission to ‘Ignite the Passion’ saw our regular adult participation increase from 10,000 to over 21,000 as the nation picked up their bats to ‘Chuck It, Whack It, Leg It and Smile!’. This was achieved by supporting a network of local delivery partners. We continued to develop as a governing body, restructuring our staffing team to provide new skills in strategic marketing and business development.
2017 – 2021
After successfully securing funding from Sport England for the next 4 years, our brand new strategy ‘Connecting People through Rounders’ is launched along with our Members’ Club. Work started on a new competition strategy and our new website is launched in the Summer of 2018.