It's the end of another financial year and once again it has seen an increase in hall hire prices.
At some venues I now pay an extra 83p an hour and another it is an additional £1.35. I questioned the increase and was told it's only 13p per kid if you have 10 involved.
What the council fail to recognise is that with over 1300 hours of hall hire, this equates to and additional expenditure of over £1000. I could easily say that I am increasing prices but parents cannot continue to pay more for every activity their child does. Costs already restrict those from a deprived background and the councils and governments should be doing more to promote sports, health and well-being.
As a business, Futsal Escocia do not get the same rates of hire or benefits as non-profit organisations, our governing bodies and 'charities' do but we coincidentally charge similar prices for a comparable and arguably better level of service. I am still struggling to see the difference between a charity and a business? The SFA, Active Schools, Leisure Centres and 'charities' all pay members of staff and offer customers a similar service but where does the rest of their money go? Is it being put back into the community?
As the only futsal organisation in Fife we have over 200 children involved in our academy and youth team structure and last winter we had 93 teams involved in our Futsal youth winter leagues. Through the winter months we are providing over 1000 children a week with the opportunity to be active and involved in sport through futsal.
We also run a recreational adult league, predominantly made up of players over 35, keeping players involved in sport for as long as they can.
Our aim and vision is to provide a futsal pathway from 3 years of age into adulthood, irrespective of their age, race, gender, religion, religion, ability or disability. We want to ensure that futsal is available to all but what is restricting us?
To put it bluntly, hall hire costs, facilities and governing bodies make it difficult to continue growth or to start new groups or sessions at affordable prices.
Due to hall hire costs, any coaching group with less than 9 children involved is operating at a loss. You quite clearly cannot continue to operate sessions that are making a loss.
I have put forward proposals to facilities to consider off peak prices at weekends, seasonal prices (halls lying empty during summer months) and a discount for volume usage. Despite spending £40000 on hall hire in Fife last year, I have yet to receive a response.
Facilities & Governing Bodies
As discussed earlier, hall hire costs are an issue but so is availability despite there being spaces available? You may or may not know that the SFA work in partnership with the council's, Fife Sport and Leisure Trust and Active Schools.
Although I am the only futsal provider in Fife and that futsal is identified as a sport in it's own right, I have been refused available hall hire at facilities as it may conflict with programmes being run by the SFA and the facility at similar times. I have also been advised not to run a 3-5 year olds futsal programme or inclusive futsal programme as it might impact on programmes run by the SFA!!! Madness considering everything the SFA promote but it appears they will only promote what they gain from.
I have offered to work in partnership with Community Use Schools, Active Schools, Fife Sport and Leisure Trust and the SFA/SYFA to help promote futsal.
So far only the SFA have responded saying that they intend to start their own futsal in partnership with the SYFA, despite having no interest in youth futsal the last 3 years. Call me a cynic but maybe they see pound signs!!??
It's time that the government, councils and governing bodies started putting the interests of the children, parents and public before self gain and self interest. Scotland has well documented issues with obesity and health issues and hasn't qualified for a major international football tournament for over 20 years, I wonder why?!
If we start putting the public first then maybe, just maybe we will see a fitter, healthier, more active nation as well as a football/futsal team to be proud of.