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Angling Trust 2023 National Coarse Competitions Overview
Angling Trust Head of Competitions Steve Fitzpatrick reveals the highs and lows of the National Championships in 2023, including insight into the finances of the 10 big events staged this season.
The Angling Trust event’s calendar remains the largest, nationally organised series of matches in the UK with thousands of anglers from grass roots to elite level given the opportunity to compete.
Over half of our ten Nationals saw a rise in attendances in 2023 with the biggest growth in our events for young anglers. We’re especially proud of this as it has formed a large part of the Competition Team’s focus since last year.
The grassroots club coaches, managers, and of course parents can’t be thanked enough for helping to introduce, teach, and inspire new anglers and it is these groups which we’ve been engaging with over the past 18 months to ensure our National competitions are moving with the times.
Following some incisive feedback, we re-introduced the Cadet National in 2023 to run alongside the popular Junior and Youth events. Instead of simply splitting the numbers up into three events, it allowed more anglers to take part in safeguarded competitions where enjoyment and learning was top of the agenda.
Charlie Meredith Telford DAA Cadet winner 2023
In fact, the competitions grew so much we turned the traditional one-day match into a whole weekend affair. In 2024 we’ll continue that trend with the Cadet and Junior Nationals on Saturday and the Youth National fished the following day.
In 2023 we also saw growth in the Ladies, Anglers with Disabilities, Masters & Veterans, Individual and Division 2 Nationals.
This year we also ran two international-rules competitions – the Float and Feeder Nationals – which were hosted on the Gloucester Canal.
While the Feeder event was well supported, the Float match was less so, yet both proved to be a valuable learning experience for the Competitions team. The knowledge gained stood us in good stead for hosting 10 international teams at the inaugural European Feeder Cup at Barston Lakes in mid-October.
Angling Trust Float National 2023 Matt Godfrey Drennan Barnsley Blacks scenic at Monks Meadow Dock
TALENT PATHWAY DELIVERS MORE GOLD!
Investment at grassroots level into our young anglers is already bringing its rewards in terms of success on the bank.
This year’s Guru Team England U15 Talent Pathway was oversubscribed once again. With the offer of coaching from England internationals Matt Godfrey, James Dent, and Frankie Gianoncelli at Makins Fishery and Barston Lakes, it wasn’t surprising!
Products of previous pathways themselves, the trio gave up hundreds of hours of their time during the Spring to inspire and educate anglers from 10 to 15 years of age across four assessment days.
They then had the unenviable task of trying to select just six youngsters from over 60 applicants to represent their country at the World Youth Championships in Portugal in August.
The World Champs proved a huge learning curve for our U15 side this time, but it wasn’t without success for England and alumni from previous coaching courses achieved the highest accolade possible by winning the U20 World Championship and claiming individual gold and silver medals – you can’t get any better than that!
YOUNG ANGLER EXEMPTION SCHEME LAUNCHED
One of the difficulties our sport faces is bridging the gap from junior fishing to competing in national competitions, but in late 2022 we piloted a scheme which started to address that issue.
Fully operational in 2023, the new Young Angler Exemption scheme allows under 16’s to apply to fish in our traditionally adult-only events in order to aid their development.
This means that competitions such as RiverFest, Division 1 and 2 Nationals, Float and Feeder Nationals, Ladies, Disabled, and Individual Nationals, SilverFish, and the Winter League are now accessible to young anglers.
Each application must be supported by a Level 2 coach and have a direct benefit to the development of the angler. Of course, they can only be granted once safeguarding is in place too.
And we’ve already seen the benefits of the scheme in action with young anglers taking part in the Winter League, a team of talented teenagers joining together to fish in the Ladies National, plus U16s competing in the Division 1 and 2 Nationals, and Zerofit SilverFish qualifiers for the first time.
The scheme also supported our youngest-ever FishOMania finalist – 15-year-old Oliver Robinson – who won through to big showdown at Westwood Lakes in July.
While these are still early stages, the seeds sown are already shooting up and we can’t wait to see more youngsters benefiting from the scheme in 2024 and beyond.
KEEP UP TO DATE
Throughout the past year we’ve worked hard on our goal to deliver the ‘Gold Standard’ of competitions for our members. While we know there is always a place for improvements in this ever-evolving sphere, we’re proud of the steps we’ve made so far.
At every stage in the timeline of each of our events we sense-check the customer experience and that starts from the very moment you look to book a ticket. In some cases – FishOMania for example – this experience hasn’t been good enough and system partners are working behind the scenes to ensure the issues which have dogged us are being addressed and solutions found.
Having met so many of you at the events we’ve run in 2023, I get the feedback that we’re getting more things right for you now, and your positivity and support around our competitions has spurred us on to deliver more for you.
What we have been able to achieve this year has been an improved media delivery pre-, during, and post-event. As a former Editor-in-Chief of Angling Times I understand the importance of our media and despite our small team we’ve been able to create some amazing content we’re proud to share across multiple platforms.
If you haven’t seen our You Tube videos, read our news stories on the Angling Trust Competitions website, or listened to our interview podcasts yet, then you’re in for a treat!
SUPPORT IS NEEDED
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved in the Nationals in 2023, whether that was as a competing angler, team manager, parent or guardian, event organiser, or section steward.
What was evident from the 2023 events was the reliance on pro-active clubs and local organisers to support the Nationals – without them competitions such as the Division 1, 2, and Feeder Nationals couldn’t exist.
From recent conversations regarding booking events for 2024 and beyond, I have a genuine fear that we are currently on a knife edge with some of our larger competitions. Apart from challenges around access to waters, indications from some clubs point to a move away from wanting to host match events in the future as they look to service pleasure and specimen anglers instead.
So, here’s a plea. If you’re a match angler, match secretary, or club member who would love to see and fish a National competition hosted on your waters then let your club committee know about it and get them to get in touch with us.
It’s not just Nationals either, for those who are demanding a World Champs return to English shores then please realise that the journey starts with local clubs offering to host large competitions.
If you feel you can help, then please don’t hesitate to drop me a line at [email protected]
Angling Trust Division One National 2023 – wet scenic Gloucester Canal above Netherbridge and Hempsted bend.
From the link below you’ll see all the unaudited statements from the 10 National Championships we delivered for our members in 2023.
You’ll see that a number of our Nationals returned a small surplus of money, while others were in deficit. I can confirm that even the smallest of surplus created is reinvested back into match fishing – that’s how a non-profit organisation such as the Angling Trust operates.
These surplus’ will be used to make contributions to loss-making, but important events to ensure we run a diverse mix of competitions each year. The surplus also helps fund the entry fees of England teams relevant to the Nationals, purchase vital equipment such as weigh scales, and cover some of the resources needed by the Competitions Team to deliver events.
As I mentioned last year in my report, there’s always a balancing act to be performed too. We strive to reduce peg fees and HQ costs to ensure more prize money can be paid out but do this without being detrimental to the member clubs or fisheries who kindly provide the support and locations for our matches.
Please be aware as you read through the statements that 100 per cent of pools money paid in is paid back out – that’s our ongoing, unswerving promise to you. Also, these financial statements do not include any contribution to staff salaries or overheads – they are funded in a different way.
Thank you for your support in 2023, we look forward to meeting you on the bank in 2024.