The SOA Board – could it be for you in 2022?

It’s been another unusual year for the Board. Although some of us have seen and talked with each other one-to-one as events have started up again, we haven’t held a full face-to-face meeting since March 2020. Zoom meetings are all very well and may seem more efficient, but they don’t offer the same opportunities as everyone getting together in the same room for a day of discussion.

What we are all aware of is that we are struggling to maintain a full complement of board members. We currently have 3 board members covering two roles each – one of these as an elected member for two positions and the other two in ‘acting’ roles in addition to their elected posts. This is unsatisfactory, for several reasons. Firstly it means that those people are devoting much more time to SOA than they might have expected to (and we are of course hugely grateful to them for stepping up). Secondly, it means that we are three people short of the number of board members we should have, and this makes the Board less representative than it should be.

Great orienteering events happen because of people like you.

We also currently have a poor geographic spread on the board – all the elected directors are from central or southern clubs with a heavy bias on Edinburgh. The SOA articles state that there should be no more than two board members from any club, and we are within that (if we count individuals rather than the positions held). But with currently only six elected members, we also need to recruit from other parts of the country. With most of us past retirement age, we would be delighted to have some younger people on the board as well!

So why does Scottish Orienteering need a board of directors?

Scottish Orienteering is the governing body for orienteering in Scotland and has a responsibility to control, administer and develop the sport. The role of the Board is to ensure that these responsibilities are met and that orienteering in Scotland continues to grow and flourish. This involves setting a strategy, directing the staff, supporting the clubs and volunteers, promoting the sport and maintaining strong relationships with government bodies, NGOs, British Orienteering and other relevant organisations.

Although all elected members of the Board have a particular area of responsibility, everyone also has a role to play in determining the future course of the SOA and in setting priorities for the work of the staff team. Members bring different skills and experience to the Board – whether from experience in running their club, in specific areas such as IT or marketing, or just through time spent as an orienteer at any age or level. The board has a duty to ensure that the members’ money (membership fees, levies) and the SportScotland grant money (for development) are used wisely for the benefit of the sport across the country. We also have to make sure that our legal obligations in areas like child protection and anti-doping are met. And of course, what is probably of greatest interest to many members, ensure that a full programme of high quality national level events is staged each year (Covid permitting…).

Over the past year we have put out many requests for new people to show an interest in joining the board, and some of you have been approached directly about particular positions – but all to no avail. This is now a serious concern for us which needs to be addressed urgently. Without some new faces coming through to join the board, we risk jeopardising the effective running of the SOA. This could have an impact on the sport for all of us.

The positions currently vacant are Performance Director and Operations Director. In addition, Bridget will be leaving the post of Communications and Marketing Director at the end of the year, and at next year’s AGM Anne will be stepping down from the role of Chair as she comes to the end of her 3-year term.

Please consider what you could bring to the Board and get in touch – we will be happy to tell you more and discuss your ideas with you. The SOA needs you!

Anne (Chair) and Richard (President)