Response to crisis heartening — CEO

Otago Softball will emerge from its financial troubles as a stronger entity,  Softball New Zealand chief executive Tony Giles says.

It is an optimistic view of the challenge ahead for the cash-strapped local association, which revealed earlier this week it faces "serious" financial problems.

It reported a significant deficit of $33,171 for the financial period ending on May 31 at its annual general meeting on Tuesday night. Former chairman Aran Bailey, who stepped down at the meeting, wrote in his report the organisation owed its creditors more than $35,000 and did not have the money to pay.

He also highlighted apathy in the local softball community about the plight of the association.

"Most disappointingly though was a lack of support shown by the membership with the attempted fundraising initiatives," he wrote.

However, Giles said the softball community was alerted to how serious the situation was at the meeting and the response was heartening.

"After a robust and honest conversation they now have people really putting their hands up and wanting to be involved," Giles said.

"They have a group of people who are engaged and willing and I’m sure we are going to have a very different Otago Softball moving forward."

Bailey, who has been on the board for 14 years, cited increased work commitments as his reason for stepping down and left issuing a call to arms for others to step up.

Wallace, a long-time softball scorer, has replaced him as chairwoman and has the full confidence of the national body.

"I think there is an opportunity right now with the new personnel coming in," Giles said.

"I have every confidence in Sandy and the team of working through this particular situation to move forward.

"Sandy is very capable and has been involved with us for a long time as a scorer.

"We’ve also got a contestable committee which has now been established. A couple of weeks back there was a bit of hesitancy about whether there would be any support for the association at a governance level."

Giles has promised to work "hand in hand" with Otago Softball "to make sure they are financial".

As for how it planned to assist financially, Giles said it was a "discussion we are having right now".

Softball New Zealand is one of three main creditors but has deferred its payment until December this year.

The largest portion of its debt is owed to the Dunedin City Council.

"The council is not seeking immediate payment of our current obligations and I am hopeful that the new executive can renegotiate payment of our current lump sum arrears ...", Bailey wrote.

Softball Otago development manager Doug Hill is the other major creditor. The association has not been able to pay him "over the last few months".

"This has had a huge impact on Doug and his family and I thank him for the extreme patience."

Hill declined to comment when contacted earlier in the week.

Softball Otago is hosting the national under-17 girls championships in January and Giles said he had no concerns about the association being able to deliver the event.

Nationally, Giles said softball was in good health. Its membership is up 15% from the 2012-13 season to about 30,000.

The Black Sox claimed the men’s world championship title for the seventh time with a 6-4 win against Australia in the final in Canada last month.

The provincial championship will be broadcast this year and women’s softball will return to the Olympic programme at the Tokyo Games in 2020.

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