Welcome to the new Mersham Sports Club website! Huge thanks to Alan Hart Design and The National Lottery Community Fund for making this possible!

The purpose of the development plan is to give a detailed account of where our club is at the moment, where we are hoping to go in future, and how we will try to get there.

Business Plan 2019

Vision

To be seen as a Sports & Recreation facility that welcomes all members of the local community.

Mission

To foster and promote all sports affiliated to the club at all levels within the community and within the sport, providing opportunities for recreation, coaching and competition.

Club History

Mersham Sport Club currently provides a range of quality sporting activities including archery, football, cycling, netball, cricket and bat & trap for people within the local community. We have seen our membership expand over the last 8 years due to the success of all of the sections that we run. In particular we have generated significant growth in junior membership in both football & cricket.

Cricket Section

Mersham Sports Cricket Club provides adult cricket by way of 2 teams who play on Saturday in the Kent Regional Cricket League and one team on Sunday who play in the Kent Village Cricket League. It holds the ECB Clubmark accreditation which has enabled it to establish a thriving junior section with 166 participants in 2018 ranging from 5 to 17 years of age. It is one of only 3 local clubs who operate the ECB run All Stars Program and last year had 57 children aged 5-8 taking part in cricket for the first time. At present the club is looking at operating with 2 sessions for this age group in 2019 which will allow the club to accommodate over 100 children. The club also has 5 teams (2 x u11, 2 x U13, & 1 x U15) who play in the Ashford & District Junior Cricket League against other clubs. In 2018 the Club won the U11 and the U13 League and finished second in the U15 age group. Mersham Sports Cricket Club is by far the biggest club in terms of number of children participating. Much of this is down to the quality of coaching that it provides with the Club having 8 ECB qualified coaches and some 12 helpers spread over the age groups. All of the coaches are first aid qualified and have completed the Safeguarding Young Persons course in line with the ECB requirements.

The club has provided disability cricket sessions at the Ashford Borough Council Sports Centre and for the last 3 years and has provided the coaching for the after school cricket club at the local girls grammar school. The school has entered the Kent Schools Softball Tournament in each of the last 3 years’ and in 2017 won the Kent County tournament thereby becoming the best team in Kent. The club has worked hard at promoting cricket in a number of schools and has gradually increased the number of girls and women participating to the extent that we will be entering a team in the newly formed Kent T20 hardball League in 2019.

The club is pro-active within the wider community and hosts all of the local school cricket tournaments. For the last 2 years the club has provided the venue for the ECB sponsored Women & Girls Cricket Festival and in 2018, with over 90 women taking part, it was the largest festival in the South East Region and was nominated for the ‘Women’s Softball Cricket Festival of the Year’ award.

The club has the full support of Kent Cricket in the Community in terms of the activity and development and works closely with the Community Team.

“I support the development of a new pavilion at Mersham Sports on the basis of the phenomenal work that the club have contributed to developing cricket. In recent years they have become a hub for women’s and girls cricket which was desperately needed in that part of the county. The club are reassuringly ambitious and going forward they are looking to engage in all of the new competitions and campaigns that we as Kent Cricket/ECB look to promote and without a new, fit for purpose building I am concerned that they will not be able to fulfil that potential.” – Helen Fagg, Womens and Girls Officer for Kent Cricket

Football Section

Mersham Sports Club has over the years developed an extremely successful football section. From a single adult team back in the 1950’s, a Reserves side formed in the 1970’s, both of which currently play in the Ashford District Sunday League. In 2009 a junior section was added to the club with the addition of an Under 7’s squad. Football has gone from strength to strength at Mersham, now a Charter Standard Developing Club affiliated with Kent FA. We have 16 qualified coaches, 14 at level 1, 1 at level 2 and one at level 3. Currently we run a development squad of around 20 5-6-year olds and have 11 other teams spanning the ages up to an Under 16/17 team which are now successfully feeding into the adult teams.

Currently we have approximately 155 junior players and 60 adult players – the youth members increasing by approximately 20 year on year, without us having to actively promote the club. We have for some time had to carefully manage numbers and this will continue for the foreseeable future. The limitations of the land we currently have available to us, for play and parking has led to our seeking assistance from the village school for use of their field. We now currently play all 9v9 games there, this has however allowed us to mark out a second 11v11 pitch which are used by the 4 youth and 2 adult teams, somewhat alleviating issues of overuse of specific area of the ground.

We are in a privileged position to have an amazing ground and great coaching team – we are continually receiving contact from parents and adults alike wishing to join Mersham.
Therefore, additional and suitable playing pitches are urgently required and fundamental for the football section to continue its expansion. The potential acquisition of new land providing opportunities to do so, with hopes of developing girls’ teams and a Veterans team too.

The club has well established links with Kent FA; who are fully supportive of the expansion plans for proposed new build; as are Ashford & District Youth League, Weald of Kent League and the Ashford District Sunday League. 2019/20 season will see the introduction of a Ladies team to Mersham, an area we feel is lacking in the local area, and have already successfully begun our end of season training.

Archery Section

Ashford Archers was formed in 1969 and has had several home grounds across Ashford as the town developed, our membership has fluctuated from 12 to 50 in number. In 2017, due to a change of landlord, the club lost its shooting range and finding a suitable, safe, facility proved difficult. Having taken over a year to find a new location the membership dropped to our lowest number. However in March 2018 we were invited to join Mersham Sports Club and became Ashford Archers MSC, a new section of the existing club. Now with a permanent home, and being a fully integrated part of Mersham Sports Club we are starting to see our membership gradually increase and at present we now have 24 active members.

At the start of 2019 Mersham Sports Club Archery section achieved national recognition as an Archery GB OnTarget Club, this accreditation is given to clubs who demonstrate and implement procedures which establish that the club is well run and has a Development Plan to support the activities for the members.

The New Sports & Recreation Centre

Our plan is to build a new two storey Sports & Recreation Centre. This will provide a modern, purpose built home and base for our existing activities the maintenance and continuance of which we recognise as being crucial to our longer term aims. The new Centre will also provide a base for a wide range for non-sporting recreational activities which will support the requirements and demands of the wider local community. We have already received letters of interest from the village walking club, 2 dance schools, a pilates class and a fitness club and believe that with our website and social media links we can generate interest and support for a wider range of community activities.

Since 2016 over 900 new homes have been built within a 10 mile radius of Mersham Sports Club as part of the Ashford Borough Council Urban Development Plan. Currently this same plan will see around 3950 new homes built in the same area with an indeterminate further increase in housing coming on stream in the next 5 years following the opening of the new Junction 10a on the M20. In order to accommodate this growth and to provide a suitable home and base for other recreational and sporting activities the club needs to build a new Sports & Recreation Centre. In order to best manage the process leading to the intended build of the project Funding for All have appointed a Mentor from Kent Sports Development.

The plans are for a two storey building, although there remains the option to reduce this to a one storey building if we are unable to raise sufficient funds. These designs have been approved by both the Football Foundation and the ECB. All necessary surveys have been completed satisfactorily and our planning application has been approved by Ashford Borough Council.

The Centre will be built to a specification that complies with all the relevant disabled access requirements, allowing us to provide opportunities to host and promote disabled sport. The Centre will have an improved drainage and waste management system and a full maintenance regime planned from day one as we realise the maintenance and care of this building is crucial to our longer term aims.

Beneficiaries

Using the data supplied by Sport England we know that there are 32 other sports clubs within a 10 mile radius of our club. However none of these offer both Sporting and Recreational activities with most being either a single or at best a dual sports venue. None of our local competitors can provide the range of sports and recreational activities already on offer from Mersham Sports Club and our plans to expand what can be provided will establish us as a unique facility for a wide range of people in our local community. Our plan is to build a facility that is available to the wider community and will include identified activities such as dance, martial arts, pilates, keep fit and a walking club. Our initial research in the local area shows a demand for a modern Sports & Recreation Centre when we introduce other non-sporting activities which will be available both during the day and in the evenings.

We have already been approached by 6 potential hirers who have provided letters of support (see Appendix 1) and have produced a cash flow forecast (Appendix 2) which assumes a gradual increase in hire usage over a 5 year period. Our conservative estimate is that the hire rate will increase each year by an additional 5 hours per week and therefore our projection is that the hire income will grow from £3900 in the first year to £16380 by 2025. Our cash flow forecast also shows the projected income and expenditure for the club over the same period.

We are continuing negotiations with the Church Commission regarding the purchase from them of an adjacent plot of land. The current cost of acquiring the 6 acre site is £80000 + vat with legal fees and agent fees totalling a further £5000 + vat. We have approached the Parish Council for their support and have also entered discussions with the Football Foundation about including these costs in our overall grant application.

The Club Committee recently held a meeting with representatives from Funding for All to gain an understanding of the options regarding our legal status moving forward. At present Mersham Sports Club is an unincorporated association with 3 trustees however following a clear presentation on the pitfalls of maintaining this status and the benefits of moving to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation the Committee called an EGM of the Club in order to explain the rational of changing our status which was accepted unanimously. The formation of the CIO and creation of the new Constitution will be handled by Sarah Halsey, a parent from our cricket junior section, who is a solicitor for Ashford Borough Council and specialises in contract law and the formation of CIO’s. In addition the club have appointed local solicitors Hallett & Co to handle the transfer of assets to the new legal entity.

Who has been involved so far?

We established a Development Committee to manage the process of working towards the ultimate project of building the new Sports & Recreation Centre in early 2017. The last 24 months has seen the team put in a tremendous amount of work in a series of meetings with potential stakeholders which has resulted in the formulation of this Business Plan and a separate Feasibility Study.

We have been supported by our Parish Council who made a significant financial contribution towards the cost of our new entrance and car park and who have indicated that they will be happy to make a further contribution towards the cost of the new Centre in the sum of £15000 with a commitment for a further £5000 to follow.

We have the full support of the Kent FA and Kent Community Cricket, both of whom have introduced us to their funding organisations. We have submitted our draft plans to both the Football Foundation and the ECB and met with their Regional representatives. Both sports support our Development Plans and are waiting for us to make a formal application for grants or loans.

The building plans and all required surveys were submitted to Ashford Borough Council Planning and we have recently received approval for our planning application. We have held as series of meetings with Ashford Borough Council and have recently received confirmation that we will be granted £100000 from the S106 fund.

Due to the existing and planned nature of our wide range other sporting and recreational activities we will be submitting an application to the Sport England Community Asset Fund Grant Scheme. The application will submitted in line with our intended timeline (see Appendix 3) for the project.

Mersham Sports Club Timeline

Appendix 3

Time

Action

Partners Involved

October Pitch Inspection Kent FA
18th October Submit Kent Downs & Marshes LEADER Grant Application Collate Letters of Support
23rd October FFA Charity Set Up meeting Funding For All (FFA)
30th October Meeting Ben Moyle Ashford BC to discuss FF application Ashford BC
November Business Plan & Feasibility Study Complete FFA Clare Haffenden
November Planning Application decision ABC
November Options Appraisal FFA/Kent Sport
November Apply for ECB loan Development Committee
December EGM to determine future structure of MCS All Club Members
March 2019 Questionnaire to potential contractors Development Committee
March Completion of Condition Survey Frank Slegg
June Design of Drainage and Waste Management System Tridax Limited
June Club Open day MSC
July Formation of CIO if agreed at AGM Sarah Hartles
July Start to develop funding applications Sport England

Football Foundation

ECB

DhHaan Trust

Kent Sport

Ashford Borough Council

November Funding Application submissions Development Committee
November Tender Issue Drawings and Spec to Contractors Gary Tidwell Associates
November Apply for ABC Community Project Committee
November Report on cost/work for new land Hobbs Parker and Crop Management Partners
January 2020 Obtain building quotes 4 suppliers
January 2020 Submit grant application to Football Foundation Development Committee
February 2020 Decisions on funding applications Funders
April 2020 Start new build Appointed Contractor

 

 

 

Further Reading

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