The year that was

In my very first blog of the year, in January 2019, I predicted that the 12 months ahead would see change and growth within SAPCA. And so it proved to be.

During the year, we welcomed new members and strengthened our relationships with a number of external stakeholders – including Sport England, the national governing bodies of sport and the media. We also moved our annual Conference to a fantastic new venue, St George’s Park, and completed a restructuring of our board to achieve a more skills-based composition. We also appointed a new, full-time Project Manager to drive forward the Technical Programme.

While implementing changes featured heavily on the agenda, we have also spent a lot of time and effort on our “bread and butter” activities – namely, championing the sports and play construction sector. In October we held another successful Technical Meeting, the largest yet, which addressed a number of key topics, such as the environment. During the year we also launched the new SAPCA Quality Control Protocol for Sports Performance Infills.

It’s important to me that we never lose sight of the fact that we are a membership organisation and our members’ needs must always be at the heart of everything we do.

That in mind, we have looked to utilise the current environment, in which the government has finally shown signs of recognising the importance of preventative health care – and the role physical activity can play in it. Working through our tagline of “Building an Active Nation”, we have focused on highlighting how investment in sports and play facilities (both public and private) is crucial in order for people of all ages to be given opportunities to take part in sport and exercise.

Speaking of government and politics, the past year has done little to offer any clarity regarding the UK’s future relationship with the European Union. We entered 2019 with Theresa May trying to get her Brexit deal through parliament. We will exit the year with a different PM still trying to do the very same. The irresolution has not been helpful and affects us all in different ways.

For those who trade internationally, the implications are obvious. For others, who operate exclusively within the UK, the impact might have been more indirect, with the slowdown in the economy. There is, however, clear evidence that the uncertainty continues to affect investment decisions in both the public and private sector. Let’s hope that, as we say goodbye to 2019, we can bid farewell to the debilitating uncertainty and that a clear path to our future relationship with the EU can finally be carved out during 2020 and generate economic confidence.

In short, the past year has been another successful one for SAPCA. A year during which we have been able to work on the priorities of our dual role – to serve the individual needs of our members and ensure our sector is represented the discussions relating to the “bigger picture”. But we are never complacent. We want to do more and do it better. We always want to hear from our members about what you need and will continue to adapt.

So I wish all SAPCA members and our friends in the sports and play industry a merry, well-earned Christmas break. I look forward to another successful year in 2020.

About Andy Reed

SAPCA Chairman until the end of 2020.