Feedback to the idea of the proposed new owner, trainer and breeder organisation has been extremely positive. I just thought I would share my thoughts on how I think the group can help everybody involved and most importantly the sport itself.
The first thing I’d like to clarify, as this seems to have been lost in translation in some quarters, is that this proposed organisation isn’t aimed at taking over from either the owners or trainer’s representatives on the Greyhound Board Of Great Britain (GBGB) nor is it aimed at taking over from the British Greyhound Breeders Forum (BGBF).
The idea is quite the opposite, in fact it is aimed at strengthening the power of each of the three key stakeholders mentioned.
Many people have great ideas within the sport but at present I feel our voices are just not listened to, in fact on occasions we are but generally we’re paid lip service when what we want to see is action. Ideas that I might have come up with or others are often met with the reply ‘great idea we’ll definitely look at that and see what we can do’. The simple truth is that those ideas just fade away with the person who raised it, in most cases, nothing is taken further.
An exception to this would be something like the live streaming of trials which has been taken on board by a few tracks and I hope this is expanded further still, the offer is still out there.
I would hope that this new organisation would allow all of the sports stakeholders to meet up and pool their ideas and propose them to the relevant parties, be that track promoters or the relevant board officials and would hope that as a joint initiative our suggestions might carry more weight.
There have been some other positive suggestions on how the group might work with fund-raising initiatives which would see the club generating funds to boost prize money and sponsorship. In recent years we have seen both areas take a hit with the reliance on wealthy individuals in the sport stepping in to rescue several competitions.
I recently read Champion Trainer Mark Wallis blog around ways of raising funds and I would urge others to check it out. He touched on a number of important points and it would be good to explore those avenues.
There have been concerns raised in some quarters that the organisation will tread the well beaten path of descending into farce and argument. I assure people that will not become the case. I am sure there will be some lively discussions, after all communication, positive debate and transparency is the way forward to coming up with the best of ideas. I have to say that this organisation is about bringing positivity to the sport and for supporters to grow it and have an impact on the future.
I would not want anyone investing time into this that feel they have the need for confrontation as they simply will not be welcome. They will not be welcome at our meetings and they will not be welcome on the end of my telephone line. I certainly will not be intimidated in anyway shape or form by keyboard warriors who would be better served ensuring that the greenhouse glass that currently surrounds them isn’t broken.
I have spoken to some of the sports key figures who are all been keen to include the proposed new association as a vital tool that can be utilised within their own ultra-important roles. Trainers representative Peter Harnden has been a huge support for some time now and has offered many words of encouragement. His passion for the sport is clear to see and is somebody I will be proud to work with going forward.
Owners representative John Coleman stood up and put himself forward for his position at a time when many others did not feel able to. Obviously there have been concerns raised about John’s ability to utilise modern technology which is vital in this day and age. I am keen to keep John in the loop, his experience within the sport is something which will prove invaluable to us. I have also now been in contact with chair of the BGBF, Liz Mort. Liz is another person with some great ideas and a huge passion for the breed and its ongoing success, she has done a superb job during her time at the BGBF and British Breeding are lucky to have somebody at the helm who is so intent on doing well for them.
Supported by her dedicated committee they are an organisation who both individually and as a part of the new group can have a first-class impact on our sports future. Liz is keen to learn more and I am looking forward to the BGBF involvement. It has also been mentioned and quite rightly that kennelhands need a voice and we will be looking to have this uber important sector of our sport included.
They are quite possibly the most undervalued but a truly important sector of our sport. I have already spoken to many individuals in the sport and continue to seek ideas and input into how the new organisation can best support yourselves and the sport going forward. We can either sit back and accept the route we’re currently on or we can work together and hope that it’s not too late to turn things around, together we’re stronger and together we can make a difference.
The one question I get asked a lot on social media is “David, now we have trials on YouTube, isn’t it time we looked at going even further”.
That is a great question and as many people will know I am always thinking of ways to improve the sport with the application of technology. The usual answer I give to that question is “yes, of course” but then that gets me thinking, how do we do it?
Technology is at the end of our fingertips these days and most people spend hours a day on their mobiles. I’m as guilty as charged but as a sport should we be looking at capitalising on that. Our cousins down-under are using it at every opportunity and doing a bloody good job of it in the process. I have to say a number of tracks have improved massively since the lockdown but we shouldn’t rest on our laurels, let’s look at pushing it even further.
I go back to an interesting conversation I had with Mick Floyd who heads up media at Sandown Park and his advice to me was “there is always a story to tell, use technology to tell it”. That really made me think about the content they put out on social media, the little clips of the dogs being checked over by the vets, a winner being paraded and cooled down after racing, even a simple tweet to a group of owners wishing them luck.
One thing I always hear in defence of this is – yeah, but the Australians have loads of money to spend and they can afford it – What a load of rubbish! If you have a camera phone you can produce the same content and I guarantee at least one person will be interested in seeing it.
Whether it adds commercial value to a track or not that shouldn’t be a blocker, let us be proud of our sport and get closer to the stars. I ‘ve said a number of times that just having a sport is not enough and the status quo must change. Now is the time everyone should be looking at telling their own stories and using technology to do it.