Looking Forward to the Year Ahead

As I take up this very important role of SAPCA chair, I want to pledge, to the membership, my commitment, my time and my energy to doing the very best I can.

2020 was a year of change for everybody. Personally, I think we’ve seen different types of change – forced change and deliberate change. Webinars, video calls and virtual meetings have been forced upon us, but it has been interesting to see how some of that change – which we thought was temporary at the start of the pandemic – may turn out to be permanent, which we’ll embrace.

I’m really pleased how SAPCA moved quickly and adapted to these forced changes during the last year and how it addressed the challenges. The webinar programme, in particular, was embraced by the membership and we also saw how the Technical Meeting attracted a record number of people last month.

I’m also sure the membership would agree that the enhancement in communications from SAPCA has been noticeable over the past year and that’s certainly something we’re going to continue.

But I want to talk a little about deliberate change. In my mind, we can either sit back as an association and let change happen to us, or we can implement deliberate change in response to the challenges we’re all facing. And let’s face it, there are currently some pretty major ones.

We’re still in the grips of COVID-19, with the sports and physical activity sector being left to count the cost of the latest lockdown. And while we now have a 1,246-page Brexit deal, there are uncertainties around the future relationship with the EU and the practicalities of what the deal will mean going forward.

We also have environmental change coming and, as an industry, we need to step up and embrace our responsibilities. We need to ensure we’re on the front foot when it comes to changing our practices and what we deliver – and I want SAPCA to be at the right at the front of that. I want us to lead the way in innovation and any new methods of construction. We also need a strong and deliberate focus on the end-of-life responsibilities for our products – both in informing our clients and also adopting good working practices.

Therefore, my vision for SAPCA is to embrace deliberate change and to progress. I see both of these being built on the foundations of an already strong association and I take on this role mindful of the good work that has been done over the years by many people who have gone before – as well as the current board.

One of the specific areas of change for this year will be the SAPCA board structure. We are already implementing a new system of specific roles and responsibilities for each board member. We are now completing the transition to a skills-based SAPCA board which has dedicated directors for a variety of key areas such as strategy and business development, environmental sustainability and, crucially, for membership.

I also want to further increase our focus on communication with members, working together with Chris and the team, to ensure that all members – regardless of the sector they operate in and position in the supply chain – are aware of what SAPCA is doing and how the association can help you.

The strength of the SAPCA community is a great resource and one we want to both utilise and further strengthen – especially during the somewhat uncertain months ahead. We all know that networking plays an important role in building a community. While the pandemic places restrictions on gatherings, we have a strong programme of online events and activities – covering a wide range of topics – planned for 2021.

As well as having a strong community sense within SAPCA, it’s also important for the association to be an active member of the larger sports community. I see us working more closely – and collaboratively – with sports governing bodies and other valuable stakeholders. Ultimately, I want SAPCA to be at the front of mind when architects, consultants, local authorities, estate managers, clubs are planning to procure sports and play facilities.

I want each SAPCA member to feel that being a member puts them in a more advantageous position than not being a member. There has been some great work done already, but there is always room for improvement and I really want to push that forward.

Change is sometimes avoided, because change can be painful. I mostly see change as necessary and worthwhile – in this case for us as an association and for you as members – and I really look forward to working with you all to achieve it.

About Jason Douglass