Mens Hockey: Conference hooked by Bann's Madeley
Banbridge's Neil Madeley found himself in the hot-seat at the 'Get Hooked' conference in Dublin earlier this month.
While much of the activity over the course of the two days concentrated on the playing and coaching sides of hockey, there was a section devoted to the clubhouse and that's where Madeley came to the fore.
He had the delegates in the palm of his hand as he explained how best to run a club using Banbridge as an example of good practice. The playing side of things is really only the tip of the iceberg as far as club affairs are concerned.
He touched on sponsorship and other ways of raising finance and how best to place the club in the centre of the community.
Bann is heavily involved in cross-community work and the facilities at Havelock Park are by no means restricted to hockey.
Linfield and Banbridge Town football clubs both use the astro-turf surface which can, of course, be utilised in all weathers with the exception of snow and frost.
But other sports are also welcome and this form of outreach generates income.
Bann are fortunate that they own their own facilities, as do Lisnagarvey and Mossley to name two other examples.
That in turn offers the clubs concerned the chance to recoup their outgoings as it's obviously costly to run a club irrespective of what sport it is.
"We have a lot of ways of generating income, one of which is through subscriptions paid by our members, playing and non-playing." Neil said.
"But that's the most basic means of raising money as is through the bar takings.
"We regard our pitch and it's peripheral facilities as an important asset as well and we have our own fitness suite on site.
"As well as welcoming other hockey teams and football clubs to Havelock Park the local hurling club also uses the complex for training. One of our players, Eugene Magee, actually plays GAA as well and that was how that link came about.
"As a spin-off from that you are sometimes eligible for additional funding if you are seen to be active on the cross-community front. So that can be another way of generating money in itself. But at Banbridge we are pretty proactive on the fund-raising front through conventional means like ballots and draws and the like."
Neil's talk in Dublin also featured the importance of strong school-club links and Banbridge are well served in that respect.
Banbridge Academy are one of the most successful schoolboy sides in the country as they have been for many years. A succession of players have made the transition from playing for the school in the morning and then lining out for the club later in the day.
The school shares the excellent facilities at Havelock Park and the importance of volunteers proactively reinforcing the links was among the points emphasised by the Bann secretary during his address in Dublin.
The complex regularly hosts representative matches and the Boxing Day Kirk Cup final, which also adds to club coffers.
Banbridge are doing well in the Vi-Sport Premier League this season, but there's clearly a lot more to the club than the first XI.