Moves afoot to change structure

Croquet New Zealand president Kathie Grant peels the ball at the Leith Croquet Club yesterday....
Croquet New Zealand president Kathie Grant peels the ball at the Leith Croquet Club yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
They are playing for a very big trophy at the Leith Croquet Club this weekend.

It is an awfully big bowl-shaped prize with room for plenty of beer.

You normally would not associate the croquet crowd with cheap grog but the sport is changing.

And national president Kathie Grant is helping usher in the transformation.

The 70-year-old wants to establish a more professional structure to help future-proof the sport.

She is in Dunedin this weekend playing in said trophy — the Arthur Ross Trophy — and said the plans were very much still in the formation phase.

"But what we want to do is look at where croquet is going," she said.

"We want the executive to be a board and look at the governance and to not deal with the nuts and the bolts and the every-day running of the sport."

That role will fall to the chief executive and under that person will be volunteer committees.

It all sounds fairly standard but croquet has been run from the top down in the past and Grant is quite keen that the president’s role becomes more ceremonial.

"What tended to happen in the past was you had very strong presidents and each one who came in wanted to run it their way."

Grant wants to transfer that power to the chief executive.

"If it all goes through I'll dissolve my own job," she said with a hearty chuckle.

The sport is also working hard to attract younger players.

"We’ve got quite a large contingent of youth players now," she said.

"In fact we had a world team event in Nelson in January and the average age of our players was 21."

The national finals of the Arthur Ross Trophy got under way yesterday and will conclude tomorrow.

The tournament is designed to help promote the sport and encourage inexperienced players. Players gain "free turns" depending on their handicap.

It is a format created to help level the playing field.

Players qualify through their clubs first and their association second before going on to contest the national final.

The tournament used to always be held in Wellington but it is being moved around the country more these days.

There are 11 associations represented at the tournament. Dunedin’s Chris Shilling, of the Punga Club, is the leading local prospect.

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