From L to R, Steve Pallas Sports Community, Ian Caldwell CMD, Tighe Patching Vic, David Fosdick WA, Peter Cesco VP, Mandy Temple President, Chris Thorpe EMO, Jenny Thompson Qld, Ian Grant Vic, Beryl Hartley NSW, Peter Sachs SA, Terry Cubley EO, Chris Stephens NSW, Ian Downes NT, Nick Mather Junior.
On 29-30 April 2017, GFA President MandyTemple, Executive Officer Terry Cubley, GFA Marketing and Development Chair Ian Caldwell and a group of volunteers met in Melbourne with representatives from Sports Community. As a company devoted to assisting community-based sports clubs to succeed by empowering club volunteers, Sports Community has been contracted to help halt membership decline, improve membership pathways and increase retention.
The meeting was very productive and all participants left feeling optimistic that the clubs can turn the situation around and secure the future of gliding for coming generations. The new strategy the group worked out will be launched at the GFA AGM in August with a working title of Soaring into the Future.
The Saturday was spent reviewing member pathways and on Sunday the team worked on ways to make the process easier for clubs and reduce the burden on volunteers. The message to take home was that unless we change, gliding is likely to be unsustainable into the future.
Sports Community provided the meeting participants with research information and successful experiences of many other similar sports facing the same issue, giving them confidence that future grant applications to support the new initiative can meet with success. Ian Caldwell, GFA Marketing and Development Chair, is the point of contact for this exciting initiative.
The attendance at Avalon Airshow 2017 was the largest yet, with more than 210,000 aviation enthusiasts attending and providing an attractive recruiting ground for gliding. However, this year we had a reduced presence as a very busy season of gliding events reduced the level of support from volunteers. Finding someone to manage our participation proved difficult, to the point that at one stage the GFA gliding contribution was cancelled.
However a small crew of members finally banded together and undertook to represent and publicise the sport of gliding, supporting the RAAF Cadets who fielded an ASK-21Mi, and Swedish world champion glider aerobatic pilot Johan Gustafsson's great displays in his SZD-59 Acro.
Check out www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQxNWp5w91Q which shows the spectacular display of night flying, lighting and pyrotechnics similar to that displayed at theAirshow on Friday night.
The catalyst for the GFA representation was Phil Behnke from Queensland, who was supporting the Super Dimona entry with Robert Zmeskal and Kim Houghton. On hearing of our difficulties, Phil offered to publicise gliding and hand out brochures, just two weeks before the event. Greig Wanless, who brought a Grob 109B, also offered to assist.
Contact was made with airshow general aviation and airsport manager Glen Smith, who welcomed the GFA presence and arranged tentspace, tickets and parking. Volunteers joined in and we had the makings of a presence at the airshow, although without the usual gliders, simulator, interior displays, movies and posters presented in prior years.
The Air Force Cadet team had a very professional display, with much interest shown in the ASK-21 by many young people. A darkened tent housed two computer gliding simulators with projectors to introduce newcomers to flying gliders. Many young people eagerly tried them out. A Piper Cherokee thatthe Air Cadets use was included in the display.
This year we noticed a difference in the profile of visitors, probably because of our location further from the eating establishments that attract a large but only mildly interested audience. Our visitors were actually looking for us, to talk to people about going gliding. Enquiries seemed much more focussed, visitors often having a background of modelling, hanggliding, or having gliding experience in the past and an interest in returning to gliding. I believe our presence was worthwhile - we talked with some serious contenders, who asked all the right questions and are on track to visit their local gliding club. It was also a great Airshow.
The Marketing and Development Department of the GFA is responsible for the development of strategies and activities designed to promote all aspects of the sport of Gliding in Australia, and the development and distribution of material to assist clubs and regions to market and promote their activities.
The Department consists of a Chair (currently John Styles) who is a member of the GFA Board and Executive, representatives from each region and club development offisers.
Marketing documents and materials can be found at the Mktg Docs menu item at left.