This report covers the last year since the previous ABF AGM in March 2011.
The Interim Committee (IC) activity has been considerably less than would be desired. In part, this may a consequence of the serious illness of the Chairman. In theory, this should not stop activity, but, as I suspect we have all had experience of in the past, this is easier said than done – someone has to step into the breach and take up the reins. Given that all members are volunteers with demands on their time, the additional responsibility of driving the IC could be seen as simply being too much.
There were useful activities during the year. In order to gain experience of how various sub-committees function, as well as (hopefully) contributing useful input, one member (Arthur Robbins) was invited to join the VBA Match and Tournament committee, while two others (Jan Hackett and Yvonne Minton) joined the Publicity committee. The chairman (Quentin van Abbe) agreed to join the committee convening the ANC but was unable to take part, owing to illness.
The IC has met twice since the chairman resumed active life. It has formulated a plan to have ready for presentation and resolution its suggested timetable and guidelines by July 2012. A constitution for a new body has been drawn up for discussion. It is proposed this would be adopted, after viewing and approval by clubs, at an inaugural meeting at which a new Council would be elected. It is proposed that the representatives to this meeting would be 1 per region, where the regions will be set up to contain approximately equal numbers of registered players. We propose to invite the regions, when we have determined them, to meet and elect their representatives. We hope to hold a meeting with all representatives in June, to go through all matters, financial, constitutional, representational, and anything else, and to hold the final meeting in July. The regional representatives would form the inaugural new Council, and would elect a management committee from their number. As well as constitutional matters, we plan to hold meetings with VBA shortly to discuss finance. We believe it important to understand fully all the sources and sinks of state revenue, not simply the amounts involved. The latter has always been a matter for at times acrimonious argument about the validity of the figures presented by the VBA, and we do not wish to revive those arguments.
If the proposed set up is accepted by the clubs but not by the VBA, then the whole matter will be returned to the ABF for action.
At this point I believe it appropriate to make some general comments to attempt to forestall arguments about inaction of the IC. There is unquestionably a good deal of unease about the management and administration of Bridge in Victoria. However, this rarely translates into anger or action, generally only when significant money is involved. As examples I cite the 3 attempts over the years, the first in the late 70s/early 80s to impose a surcharge on non-VBA members playing in State events held at the VBA, and the two times the VBA arbitrarily with no discussion tried to impose a capitation fee on all club members. On all 3 occasions, the clubs were goaded into action and forced the removal/non-implementation of the charges. So the clubs CAN act when roused, but in general, it is hard to find people who are willing to devote an inordinate amount of time and effort to working for change, so things tend to drift. The VBA, not unreasonably, has a vested interest in the status quo, and in general sees little reason to change. Long term this is a sad view, as clubs become more disenchanted and interest drops away, affecting all of us. This does not mean that individuals or teams from Victoria will not do well in national events, even international ones. The question remains whether the state body is there just to serve the best players or all players.
The problems that beset Victoria are not unique to Bridge. However in all cases, what happens at the bottom of the scale as well as at the top? New players and those who play at the club level for the social enjoyment are as worthy as the best, and indeed, one can reasonably argue they need more support to ensure they do not lose interest and drift away to other pursuits.
Quentin van Abbe
Chairman, Interim Committee