At Arch, we are proud to support our staff in Pursuing Better Together within their local communities. A great example of this is Chris Fairs who, outside of his day job as our Agency Manager, is passionate about his role as Club Secretary for Maidstone Warriors — the largest all-abilities community basketball club in Kent.
We caught up with Chris to discuss his role and their latest initiative to help establish a new women’s team.
Tell us about the Maidstone Warriors and how you became such an active volunteer with them?
Maidstone Warriors is the largest all-abilities basketball club in Kent and this year celebrated our 25th anniversary. We are immensely proud to be community focused and help boost the popularity of basketball in the UK.
The club maintains a ‘basketball for all’ ethos, which means we never exclude anyone and accept all players regardless of their background or level of ability.
We have teams representing players of all ages, from as young as seven years old, as well as two men’s teams and a new and flourishing women’s team. The club has just launched a new initiative to encourage more female players to join, including a series of taster sessions across Maidstone, with the aim of joining a women’s basketball league from September.
I’ve been an active volunteer now for the last 10 years, since I used to bring my own son to the club when he was 14 years old. I started out helping with the club as they needed more support, and my involvement has grown from there.
What kind of things does your role involve?
In addition to my role as club secretary, I’m also the safeguarding lead at the club. This is a very important aspect of running a sports club and one that we take very seriously. I’m also responsible for the governance of the club, including the overall structure, the club committee and the club executive as well. We also host our own [annual general meeting], that all parents are invited to attend.
Other duties that fall under my remit include communications, and the ongoing challenge of finding and booking venues to play in. Unfortunately, we don’t have our own premises, so it requires a lot of juggling to ensure we have somewhere to play. It can also be costly paying local schools to hire their courts, not to mention an availability challenge during exam periods.
In an ideal world we’d love to have our own premises but that is a longer-term goal. Unlike some other sports we don’t receive funding at a grassroots level.
How do you secure funding for the club?
It’s not always the easiest task to secure funds for what is still considered a non-mainstream sport — despite its huge popularity. We are very grateful to our corporate sponsors and their support has been immensely helpful to the club.
Arch’s sponsorship of our new women’s team has come at a particularly opportune moment. We’ve just bought some great new Arch-branded vests in addition to all the equipment, kit, training gear and other things we need to get the new women’s basketball team off the ground.
This is a really important initiative for us, and it’s been a breath of fresh air having an employer willing to support local community sports like this. It makes such a massive difference to our current 222 members, who are all not only honing their basketball abilities but also developing key life skills and boosting their confidence.