What should the BFA be doing that it isn't doing now?

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Boris
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What should the BFA be doing that it isn't doing now?

Post by Boris » Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:11 pm

Simple question - complex answers.

Trying to canvass views of players generally, from newbies to the pro-masters.  "Out of the box" ideas welcomed.   Some sub-questions to start the discussion.

How can we provide a better service to members?

How can we best develop the grass roots and youth players?

To what extent should funds support elite players and the National Team?

How do we raise £10k towards the cost of competing in the 2010 World Cup?

If we are to keep membership fees as low as possible, how do we raise money?

If we were to have an annual budget of £50k how should it be spent?

There is debate as to how much the full member fee should be - should it be £2 and we do no more than currently, or £5 (as agreed by the AGM) and do a bit more than we do now - or more/much more than this and do lots more than we do now?

As well as what the BFA can do for you - what are you prepared to do for the BFA.

Brainstorm away.....
Last edited by Boris on Tue Mar 27, 2007 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Philo » Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:25 pm

I would like to get the first post in and say in my opinion the BFA do a very good job.

It has enabled me to meet other players, find venues, and attend tournaments. However what I like most about the BFA however is that i don't have to pay for it.
Philo

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Post by davez » Mon Mar 26, 2007 7:16 pm

I think that the task of raising £10k for world cup is relatively easy to achieve. I don't deny hard work will be needed, but it can be done.

Jon May may wish to disagree with me...anyway, I'm more than willing to help with finding sponsorship.

Now if you want a hard project........

I think the BFA should aim to have permanent access to a dedicated Foosball building like the one they have in Italy.

Imagine that. A place to house a large number of foosball tables, and a place to hold very large national and international tournaments such as a World Championship or World Cup.

There, I've said it.

Dave

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What should the BFA be doing that it isn't doing now?

Post by Gareth » Mon Mar 26, 2007 11:19 pm

Firstly Boris I would like to say what a great and much needed post this is, I would like to state that before reading what I have put below that I think the BFA has a good foundation and is going in the right direction, I do not wish to offend anyone with what I have put below, i have mentioned no names, and have not implied any individual. I am simply answering the questions that have been asked.

I also think there should be consolidation on some issues, I'm all for free speech and a difference of opinion, but there seems to be when there are differences then things come to a stop instead of working out or compromising these issues, only then can you move forward effectively. I think there is an unhealthy minority within the BFA that has an elitest attitude that do spoil it for the rest.

How can we provide a better service to members?
I think this website and most of its contents (especially the forum) is testament to hard work, dedication and passion of the majority of BFA members. However I think the forum could be better used: keeping responces/answers straight and to the point- therough better management and editing. Avoid original questions and posts turning into rants/in jokes/personal attacks. But the worse thing is the way that newbies get treated, some of it is disgusting, how can you attract people to the website and the sport when they are shot down in such terrible ways sometimes?

As I have suggested before, a space on this site that has a glossary of terms would be ideal, especially for newbies, even the basics that would stump anyone new to the forum e.g. ELO, OD, Sweatball- i dont know what these mean. Instead of the usual response of "look at the forum, its in there", there's hundreds of threads and thousdands of responses, it would take an age. This is why a lot of websites have a FAQ's sections

This website is a powerful communication and advertising tool, if it could be made more efficient I think you would see considerable benefits from it. The fact that it is free already draws people in, to change this could turn people away


How can we best develop the grass roots and youth players?
Apart from what I have touched on above, I think overall the BFA should make new people feel more welcome, offer them free or subsidise tournaments for newbies when other events are taking place. Make more effort to appeal to younger players, dont say "you need to buy a 300 pound garlando table before you can join our gang", if they've got table you dont like it doesnt make them wrong, if they've only got a 100 pound table then it doesnt mean they cant play.


To what extent should funds support elite players and the National Team?
I think you should support both sets of players as much as you can these are your representatives and their success will ultimately bring the spotlight on to yourselves, however you have to do this without infringing on other areas. Sponsorship is the obvious route, maybe looking for donations or even a tournament, especially dedicated to raising money for the team(s)


How do we raise £10k towards the cost of competing in the 2010 World Cup?
I have again mentioned this is the past but promoting an event that follows an actual football event would raise considerable money and the profile of the game. I know when I mentioned this last I was accussed of selling the soul to the devil but I think its a way of achieveing your objective and promoting the sport that cannot be parallelled.


If we are to keep membership fees as low as possible, how do we raise money?
see the 2 posts above.

Cheers
Gareth

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Post by optix » Tue Mar 27, 2007 12:49 am

Quick answer here, possibly not thought through enough, but I personally wouldn't have a problem at all with paying £5 for membership - fantastic though free stuff is. We (that post on here) all love the game and want to see it grow, and there are certain things that can't happen without a bit of cash behind the BFA.

This would probably call for a new level of membership - ie we don't want to alienate casual/young(/both) members by forcing them to pay, but perhaps we say you can get newsletters, enter non-ITSF tourneys, post here etc on a free membership but you don't get to vote at AGM/EGMs or enter ITSF tournaments without paid membership.

Especially if the BFA can get set up to take Paypal, super quick and easy and I wouldn't think twice about a fiver for annual membership.

Providing the associated paperwork/admin doesn't negate the financial benefit of us paying a fiver in the first place, of course!  :lol:
I love this stupid game!

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Post by optix » Tue Mar 27, 2007 12:51 am

PS, I heartily agree with Gareth's point about a FAQ section.
I love this stupid game!

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Re: What should the BFA be doing that it isn't doing now?

Post by JamesU2002 » Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:43 am

Gareth wrote: How can we provide a better service to members?
I think this website and most of its contents (especially the forum) is testament to hard work, dedication and passion of the majority of BFA members. However I think the forum could be better used: keeping responces/answers straight and to the point- therough better management and editing. Avoid original questions and posts turning into rants/in jokes/personal attacks. But the worse thing is the way that newbies get treated, some of it is disgusting, how can you attract people to the website and the sport when they are shot down in such terrible ways sometimes?

As I have suggested before, a space on this site that has a glossary of terms would be ideal, especially for newbies, even the basics that would stump anyone new to the forum e.g. ELO, OD, Sweatball- i dont know what these mean. Instead of the usual response of "look at the forum, its in there", there's hundreds of threads and thousdands of responses, it would take an age. This is why a lot of websites have a FAQ's sections

This website is a powerful communication and advertising tool, if it could be made more efficient I think you would see considerable benefits from it. The fact that it is free already draws people in, to change this could turn people away
A Wiki would be the best option for this in my opinion. One place to store everything centrally, allowing established Registered members to edit and post new info e.g. shots, tables etc.

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Post by Norskfoos » Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:25 pm

Nice topic :)

My answer isnt an answer to what "should be done" though, just a few spare thoughts.

More tournaments with no prize money. Let local sponsors put up a trophy and/or a few smaller prizes. All players should still pay a fee to play, but not too much.

All money raised can help go to sponsoring a team of the top/elite players who can therefore travel around the country to all these tournaments. A sort of foos "harlem globetrotters" :)

If a group of the elite players could meet up at school tournaments and demonstrate tricks/foos to kids, youre recruitment issue may become much easier.

You asked for "outside the box"...

bren
NFoFo

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Post by PADDY. » Tue Mar 27, 2007 10:22 pm

I would have no problem paying £5 per year membership.

When i joined up i knew nothing about this *sport*
I asked many, many questions and got them all answered quickly saving me alot of time practising the wrong thing etc.

I have had great service from the the likes of Boris, Mase, JW etc in obtaining parts & advice.

What can i give back to the BFA?

If i have any free time you can have it.
I have transport (large Van) you can have it (cambs area)

Everyone i have met in this game has been really helpful and i consider them all to be a credit to this game.

£5 a year for membership for all the help & adivce that i have had - No problem i consider it a bargain.

Paddy

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Post by Richard » Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:38 am

I think there are two or three areas the BFA notionally covers, and performs with varying degrees of competency:

[Through the analysis below, i use the concept of "BFA value" to somehow encapsulate the benefits the BFA gives to members/UK foos as a whole. ]

1) website / communication / discussion: current site is detailed and functional (but hard to maintain) and forum is quite disjointed (and occasionally highly inappropriate). Ultimately, 75% of the current value of the BFA organisation is probably in the site (discussion, announcements, organisation, working groups) and although there is huge potential for the site to become vastly more, i would say that the bases are largely covered here and anything else is upside. Having a wiki section, for example, would certainly be a nice to have but hardly "a core benefit to members".

2) organising / running events: this has always been hard to crack, because organisers want control over their events and the BFA has been inefficient at acting as the grand organiser. Meanwhile the experience of the BFA running its own events is very mixed (can be good, but never straightforward and heavily reliant on key organisers). I would say that 20% of the current value of the BFA is in this area, but this is  a fairly pathetic number and should be much higher (suggest 30-40% of an enlarged value BFA).

3) acting as the international body: this has historically centred around boris' international involvement and the occasional UK team. Certain recent changes have meant that probably the bases are covered on this, but its overall value to the BFA is probably still just 5% and although the BFA needs to do more in this area it should always be in the 5-10% area and should not be the focus of the organisation's activities.


Thanks,
Richard

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Post by ChrisT » Wed Mar 28, 2007 11:11 am

Can someone give a rough breakdown of what the BFA currently spends its money on? I can see that a lot of work is done by the committee and members of the BFA in terms of maintaining this site, giving advice and support to event organisers etc. etc. but my understanding (which may be wrong) is that this work is mainly, if not entirely, done by dedicated volunteers. In other words, giving advice, coordinating the national league, helping out behind the desk at events and so on, which are to me the most obvious efforts of the BFA, do not in themselves cost money. Where do the costs come in?

(Please note - I am genuinely interested. I am not trying to belittle the work of anyone within the community, nor am I suggesting that the BFA does not need money to run.)

Chris

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Post by Richard » Wed Mar 28, 2007 3:24 pm

Chris, there are detailed accounts attached to the 2006 AGM minutes.

[note: Minutes to the 2007 AGM will show much the same picture, but the process for finalising them has stalled - Mase has apparently sent draft minutes to me but i never received them... as soon as i do i can complete and the current committee can then ratify / issue. ]

Richard

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Post by Messiah » Wed Mar 28, 2007 3:33 pm

AGM 2006 minutes can be found from the news archive

http://www.britfoos.com/News_Information/Archive.php

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Post by Boris » Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:16 pm

Rough accounts for 2006 - provisional budget for 2007 now removed.

These figures have been posted in the committee forum for debate.  The 2006 figures are taken from the accounts.  I have not included projections here for 2008-2010 which are referred to in the text
2006
Income
Balance b/f £2,912

Subscriptions £0
Advertising £0
Sponsorship £1,971
Services £2,725
Misc £250
Interest £24
Total £4,970

Expenditure

Website £206
PO Box £90
ITSF Subs £250
Sanction Fees £200
Trophies £0
National Team £1,294
Tournaments £726
Development £0
Printing £0
Expenses £364
Bank £70
Total Exp £3,201

Balance c/o £4,681

Income:

Subscriptions
- presumes full membership is £5 in coming year/2 years and rises to £10 thereafter (with concessions if necessary) - assumes increase in player base/tournament turnouts
Advertising - paid adverts on website and/or google-ads, also adverts in any publications (e.g. schools/grass roots pack)
Sponsorship - 2006 figure included National Team (£1200) and Valley-Tornado towards trophies - budget presumes sponsorship can be negotiated (e.g. for trophies at Gar/Tor comps, national team etc)
Services - Assumes £2000 income from expert-challenges in World Cup/Euro Champs (football) years - nothing in others
Misc - Deposits from WC players in WC years only
Interest - bank interest/estimates - not a big deal either way

Expenditure

Website
- allows inflation rise/upgrade of £50 per year
PO Box - again allows inflaton rise of £10 pa
ITSF Subs - Estimated based on €1 per registered player
ITSF Sanction Fees - Assumes 2x Pro Tour and 1x Master Series per year at current rates allowing for slight increase
Trophies - Costs of UKC trophies - originals (2007) and replicas (2008-on)
National Team - No allowance until 2009 when points will count towards WC qualification - costs of team to ZA estimated at £1k per head or thereabouts including flights and accom
Tournaments - Modest tournament support budget increasing year on year
Development - High first year/set-up expenditure towards youth/ grass roots and womens foosball - includes limited mailing costs, things like CRB checks for players working with minors, lower budgets for year 2 onwards
Printing - Budget for producing BFA pack for schools etc, rules sheets for venues etc - lower budgets for year 2 on
Expenses - Misc stuff (2006 included a sack truck) - contingency allowance for future years roughly the same as was spent in 2006
Bank - Bank charges

If subscriptions come out altogether, instead of a 2.6k surplus at the end of 2010 we will have a 2.5k deficit.  If we charge only £2 we can expect to be stony broke with a nil balance or slight deficit by 2010 even if we secure the sponsorship and advertising income forecasted.

The budget items in themselves are fairly modest, and assumes we get favours rather than paying commercial rates, donated equipment etc - it is not as if we are buying tables (which could be construed as a legitimate expense to build up a tournament stock).  

Can those opposing significant membership fees please state what areas of the budget should be cut, or where alternative sources of funding could be found, in order to accommodate a nominal/symbolic membership fee rather than a realistic one.

Note on National Team - There are 5x international team 'fixtures' per year, and for the foreseeable future the national teams will consist of those players who attend World Championship Series tournaments on the 5x official ITSF tables.  Sending our best team to most of these events would simply be unjustifiable in terms of cost.  However a Great Britain team is a potential focus of media interest and sponsorship opportunities, which would benefit the game as a whole.  Consequently the 'value' as Richard puts it is likely to increase as the game receives a higher media profile.  In the meantime, even if you are a rookie, you have a chance to win a GB international 'cap' by attending World Championship Series tournaments, particularly the less popular events (e.g. Tec-Ball, Roberto-Sport).  Participation in these events gains the country 'nation points' and a higher overall ITSF ranking which could make the difference in qualification and seeding for 2010.  There is consequently a budget for 2009 to ensure the country is represented at all WCS Nation Cup comps that year by the strongest possible team.

The greatest proposed increase in funding for 2007 is for development of the grass roots and youth game.  We are looking to distribute (free) rules sets and info packs to venues, operators, distributors and to schools/colleges with tables, with a view to increasing participation in the league, increasing opportunities for competitive foosball at a local level, and establishing a youth championships programme.   This will require a significant one-off cost for production and distribution of professional materials.

The biggest competitive change is the establishment of a UK-only championship to decide ITSF qualification slots at the World Championships.  This is confirmed for the weekend of 6-8 July in Bristol.  Ideally we'd like to be able to offer the winners flights and accommodation in Italy, or at least some subsidy payable on arrival, but again the costs of this are hard to justify except, e.g. by a levy on entry fees/reduced prize money at qualifying events.  As this year there will be World Championship Singles and Doubles in Open, Womens, Youth and Senior categories, that is a minimum of 8 and a maximum of 12 people - which are not included in the budget.  The costings include purchase of permanent trophies and replicas/medals for the podium placings.  The aim is to have a transparent and fair process of selection/nomination, and a target to which all players should aspire.

A further priority this year is on an official level to gain recognition as a sport.  This is likely to be a long process but we can now point to sister organisations overseas who have gained such recognition.  If we can get this recognition it could have big implications, such as access to local authority facilities, sports-aid grants, lottery funding etc for which we would not currently be eligible, and would also improve the prospects of sponsorship and media coverage.

Finally there is the behind the scenes stuff - working towards accreditation of referees, establishing a disciplinary commission with teeth, negotiations of member discounts with table/parts suppliers, developing relationships within the 'industry', talking to the media on those rare occasions when their appetite is whetted, responding to enquiries from people interested in the game (not just new members), and representing Britain's interests within ITSF.

At the end of the day, even in a volunteer organisation where officials take no financial benefit, doing the things we need to do costs money, and there has to be a sustainable source for that money.  It is not a question of favouring the elite - they will always do well from tournaments, and may have greater opportunities for paid engagements if the number of expert challenge events can increase - although where support is needed by elite players for the greater good of the game (such as the 2010 World Cup team) it should be given.
Last edited by Boris on Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Richard » Wed Mar 28, 2007 5:58 pm

Given that the above has been posted in a public forum, i feel a public response is appropriate.

The problem with the budget posted above is that everything is geared towards spending £10,000 on the elite players entering the 2010 world cup.

Cut out any subsidy that cannot be acheived from sponsorship and you dont need any subscription fees whatsoever.

Thanks
Richard

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Post by Gareth » Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:51 pm

Why not sell advertising space on this website? Also look at sponsring on a smaller scale, such as sponsoring players/tables or events within tournaments. A lot of footballl clubs allow you to sponsor a match/player/ball

Does it cost 10k to put a tem forward for the world cup? I'm not disputing it,, just cant believe how expensive it is

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Post by Steviola » Wed Mar 28, 2007 6:58 pm

Boris wrote:How can we best develop the grass roots and youth players?
As far as I know, there are plenty of schools around the country that have foosball tables in their sixth form common rooms. Plenty of people (at least 20-30) in my year at my school played on the table regularly and got hooked on the game. However, I think there are 3 main problems that the UK foos scene has:

1) That although there are plenty of people playing and enjoying the game at school, almost none of these players then go on to play at University, and from there go on to play at a tournament. It was pure luck for myself, tom b, tom h, joe latimer and quite a few of our freshers that Warwick had a table football society up and running where we could continue playing regularly after we left school. Had I gone to a university where there wasn't a foos society I highly doubt I'd have played foos regularly again, let alone gone to a national tournament.

There simply aren't enough university foos societies in the UK to turn all these school players into uni players and then hopefully tournament players. Currently I can name only 3 established ones (Warwick, Oxford and Cambridge) and only 1 more (Cardiff) which has recently been established. Setting up a foos society is hard work (one of my school friends tried and failed to in Edinburgh), but I'd like to see the BFA try to encourage the development of societies across the country.

Most Unis have at least 1 foos table in their Students' Union, so perhaps the BFA could advertise it's tournaments around these tables to generate interest, or even better (but extremely time consuming) set up "beat the pro" challenges at Uni's in which participants are encouraged to attend tournaments, demonstrations sessions are held to show skills, and ultimately be inspired to play regularly and start a society etc etc. Basically have your "Expert Challenges" at University's because there are plenty of students looking for new hobbies with too much time on their hands compared to your average working man.

2) Even though I was playing almost every day at school, I had still never heard of the BFA and never knew there were such things as national tournaments. There were never any flyers or posters around our common room or by the table promoting BritFoos etc, so even if I had wanted to go to a national tournament (which given the fact that I didn't know they existed is unlikely) I wouldn't have known where to look for details. Therefore I think if the BFA advertised in school common rooms (at least in the schools in the tournament's/series/byp surrounding area) a lot of interest could be developed that way.

3) The tournaments themselves. There aren't that many tournaments that are attractive to new players IMO. For example, the 2 tournaments so far this year have charged quite a lot of money to enter, even for a new tournament player. I'm not criticising these tournaments for that because they were aimed at different things and I'm glad that they were held, I'm just saying that if we want to attract new players and indeed younger players we HAVE to run tournaments that are cheap to enter. Your target market (students and school players) does not have much money at all, and a high entry fee definitely affects turnout (several of our own freshers have been absent from tournaments simply due to the cost of entry). I think it is unrealistic to expect a new player to pay any more than £15 to enter (package deal and table fee included) because they simply wont want to spend that much or indeed have that much to spend on something that they are not certain they'll enjoy.

I also think that Novice/Amateur events are a must for any tournament if we're to attract new players.

The date(s) of the tournament is also important - e.g unfortunately I doubt there will be a large Warwick contingent to the Hereford Open because that is the weekend when everyone moves back into halls/student houses. I know for a fact that several people aren't going just because of this, which is a shame for them too because Mase's tournament is ideally suited to Rookies. By comparison Warwick (obv) and Oxford Opens have been well attended by Warwick students because they are in term time and not too close to exams.

So in conclusion to point 3), to encourage new players I think that it's vital that there are cheap entry fees, novice/amateur events and suitable dates (university term time, saturday if a one day event) at tournaments. I think that if there are more, smaller tournaments (preferably 1 dayers) which cater well for Nov/Am players then you'll definitely get good growth - Nov/Ams aren't interested in prize money they're just interested in having a good time and playing the game, so IMO lots of tournaments with small prize funds and cheap entry fees are the way to go.

If points 1) and 2) are approached then attracting players to these smaller tournaments wont be an issue.

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Post by Gareth » Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:16 pm

I think Steviola has made some very good points.

We were sent flyers to distribute to our customers and with our table sales advertising the BFA, what has happened to this? I was impressed with the idea

Also there was an idea to put stickers advertising the BFA on tables (if people were allowed to put stickers on them), again another good idea that seems to have disappeared

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Post by fool_on_the_hill » Wed Mar 28, 2007 8:11 pm

Gareth wrote:I think Steviola has made some very good points.
This.

I also think we could be making much better use of pub tables. There should be a standard BFA poster anyone can print out, that can be stuck up near pub tables, which highlights the existence of the BFA, national tournaments, and a forum to (amongst other things) start up a local foos scene.

I imagine some landlords would want something in return, but if we get the venues database sorted out (wiki FTW) anyone can walk into a pub and say "If you let me put this poster up by your table I'll advertise your pub on a national website with thousands of visitors". We can also point out that one of the aims of the poster is to encourage people to start a local foos scene based in their pub, which if successful would bring in more customers for them.

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Post by sparky » Wed Mar 28, 2007 10:03 pm

Similar to Steve's points, I started playing in school and was very fortunate to come to a university with such an established scene. While at school in Reading, there was word going round about a "proper tournament" somewhere in Reading which I was tempted to go to, but was put off by reported entry fees of £20 (probably untrue) and the feeling that I'd go and get destroyed by insanely good players - whereas actually the entry fee was possibly less and there were probably Novice/Amateur events. Unfortunately I didn't know as I had no idea about the BFA, so advertising in schools would be a huge bon I think.

Schools (and universities) are almost certainly the best place to get people into the game, and with more exposure of the BFA more university societies would hopefully get set up (maybe a "Setting up a local scene" section of the main website - that'd be helpful to a lot of people), and if only 2 or 3 more societies get properly established that would still be a massive boost to the game. To build on this, if the BFA run more (perhaps smaller) tournamentsaround the country that'd definately get more people interested - for example, say Durham Uni set up a society, it'd be great (although maybe hard to actually do) to get a few tables up there and hold a small tournament, with help from people who know how to run touraments. Anything to get societies/scenes off to a good start.

Boris' other points I can't really comment on (I'm happy enough with the services the BFA offer me, and can't comment too much on money) but the grass roots scene has so much untapped potential IMO.

Luke

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