BCTA - Brisbane Churches Touch Association - 20 Years [2007]
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20 Years [2007]

This article was written in April 2007 as part of the BCTA's 20th Anniversary celebrations.

At this point in the Association’s history it is interesting to reflect not just upon our 20 years of existence, but also to compare and contrast with ourselves of ten years ago.

Category 1987-1997 1997-2007 Increase
Seasons 18 21 17%39
Premierships 58 77 33%135
Teams 322 367 14%689
Games 2,416 2,761 14%

We have averaged 260 matches per year. To put that in perspective, both the NRL and AFL run about 190 games per year. The budget in our first season was just $180 (6 teams at $30 each) yet we still managed to make a profit! Things have certainly changed as we paid only $100 for fields for the entire season, referees were volunteers and we operated without insurance. Budgets quickly grew to $750 in 1989, $11,000 in 1990 and is currently about $25,000 per annum. Overall we have churned through around $360,000.

Possibly the biggest change has been the end to our nomadic existence. We played at nine different venues in our first decade, but just one in our second- the magnificent Tennyson fields which are perhaps the best touch-playing facility in Brisbane. It is therefore appropriate to acknowledge the contribution of St Joseph’s College, the grounds owners, and particularly their forbearing grounds man Alan Kennedy.

Our mixed competitions have continued to be the mainstay of our competition, regularly attracting 16 to 22 nominations and since 1999 comprising four grades. The use of Swiss-style match draws since 2001 has also increased utility by maximizing the number of games between teams of roughly equal ability. It has enabled us to run four mixed grades with as little as 16 teams, while avoiding both too many one-sided matches and the same teams playing each other too often. It also means virtually every team qualifies for the semi-finals in one grade or other.

It is also pleasing to note that we have attracted some second generation players, with a number of sons and daughters of original players and referees now active members of the Association. We have some 20 players (around 8% of current registrations) who were born after 23 May 1987 when the Association played its first games.

Unfortunately we have been unable to sustain a men’s competition since 1999, and the ladies’ competition has suffered a similar fate since 1996. This is in some ways a blessing in disguise, as with regular mixed nominations of around 20 teams, and a ground capacity of 24 teams, it would be impossible to run more than one competition on the same night and venue.

We have retained the seven-a-side format as there is no popular support for moving to six-a-side. With our full-sized fields and referees maintaining a good five metres between teams, there is certainly no shortage of try scoring. We can still see no benefit in affiliating with the various touch organizations. As we continue to have teams nominate year after year, so our atmosphere of social yet competitive matches in a Christian environment obviously appeals to them.

Another major change has been technology led. The Association first developed its first, very modest, website in 1998. It has grown in sophistication and, with the associated email lists for players (with about 150 subscribers, or about 60% of our members), referees and committee members, is now our primary means of communication. Our “In Touch” printed newsletter is but a faded memory. The on-line archive has recently been completed and contains the results and points tables for all our past seasons. We have also acquired our own domain name: www.bcta.org.au.

Another innovation since 2002 has been our Fair Play awards. At the conclusion of each round game, referees award each team up to 3 points in the Association’s Fair Play awards. Teams regularly achieve very high ratings, with about half qualifying for the fee discount by achieving a perfect score.

One-day touch carnivals were run in 1998 and 1999 with modest success. We are willing to run similar events in future if there is sufficient interest, though they do not seem attractive to the majority of our members for some reason.

Gateway Baptist (18) has overtaken Sunnybank Church of Christ (13) as the most successful church in terms of premierships, while St Barts, Sunnybank Baptist and Kenmore Baptist have all enjoyed considerable success over the past decade.

It is appropriate to acknowledge the efforts of a few people who’s contributions make Association what it is. These include Life Members Barry Thornton, Selwyn Dickfos and Chris Kelly, our past and present office bearers and committee members, and our happy band of referees. The position of Chaplain has remained vacant for most of the past decade, and a fair proportion of the decade before. This is something of an omission in an Association such as ours, and will hopefully be rectified. Thankfully it has not compromised our fundamental goals of a Christian sporting forum providing fellowship for all its members.

Ten years ago we recognized that the Association was entering a period of consolidation rather than continued expansion. It is very gratifying that we have maintained our high levels of achievement in terms of members, fellowship, playing facilities, communication, financial management, administration and refereeing over that decade. Teams and individuals have and gone, and sometimes come again, but the Association has remained strong and stable throughout. Happy 20th Anniversary to all our past and present members. See you in 2017!


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