It was an historic day for the Camogie Association at Westport as Congress decided to make membership an individual responsibility rather than the current club-based system.
Individual membership to be introduced
From April 1, 2014 there will now be four separate categories of members: over 18 players, youth players (U18), administrators/coaches/referees/non-players that are over 18 and a social membership for over 18s that are not seeking involvement in a club’s administrative or games-related affairs. (A full reading of the motion is available on the following link to download Camogie congress motion ref page 84)
At present, each club pays a €300 affiliation fee to the Camogie Association that covers all its members.
From next year, each adult member will pay €23, with €5 of that retained by the county board, €2 by the provincial council and the rest entering central coffers.
The fee for youth members will be €13. Again, the relevant county board will retain €5, with €2 going to the provincial council and the remainder belonging to the Camogie Association.
The result will be that whereas membership is responsible for just 10% of the association’s income at present, that percentage will increase to 29% of a greater overall figure. According to the association's acting director-general Mary O'Connor, this will benefit all of camogie's stakeholders.
“This is a huge move away from where we are” said O’Connor.
“We have time to plan what we want to do but a lot of the money will be earmarked for development. The certainty of knowing what the revenue will be will allow county boards and the provinces to plan year-on-year.
“The focus on development will be on a broad level, not just games. Raising the profile of the games and investing in good governance will be important too.
“But certainly, we will be looking to support coaching courses and putting programmes in place so that the costs aren’t prohibiting people who want to play camogie.
“We are working towards having a uniform underage structure in all counties. That takes finance and we want to provide grants to facilitate that. We will also be giving new clubs start-up grants. Unusually within Gaelic games, we are continuing to create new clubs. There were 86 new clubs since 2006, which is a huge increase, so we want to assist them with finance and development initiatives.
“It is important to emphasise that the finance raised at Central level will be used to achieve the aims of the National Development Plan and so the clubs and the players will see the benefits of this new membership system.”
It was also agreed to retain the current age restrictions at club and inter-county level, whereby no U16 can play at senior inter-county level and no U15 can play at senior club level. Delegates felt that age-appropriate categories were working well in ensuring that more players were getting the opportunity to play.
A motion that the All-Ireland club finals be played in the calendar year was rejected, with the majority of delegates emphasising the honour involved for club players to be playing at Croke Park in March. It was felt that such an opportunity might not be available in November or December, while it was generally more difficult to source venues at that time of year anyway.
Meanwhile, delegates were addressed by the chief executive of the Irish Sports Council John Treacy, who praised the association as an organisation based on volunteerism but run professionally. He congratulated members for the manner in which the association had evolved since ISC funding came on stream in 2005.