Jonathan Isaacs Discusses the Academy and more
Earlier last month the Club Website interviewed Jonathan on a number of croquet topics. His comments will be presented over a couple of articles in the next few months.
Can we start by talking about the Academy? Because you've just taken over again as the Academy Director. How far back does your association with the Academy go?
To the very beginning, and beyond! We used to have a Summer School at Southwick, which was very well attended in the last century.
But at the start of this century, the numbers attending started to diminish. And part of the reason was the length of the program which was five days. At the same time, the Croquet Association were looking to create a much better coaching operation. And I saw the opportunity to set up Southwick as the first croquet academy in the UK.
Why? One, to create a centre of excellence for coaching in the UK. Two, to create an additional revenue stream for Southwick because we we need every penny we can get to maintain 11 laws, and three, to build on the strength we already had with our coaching through the Summer School because we already had some very good coaches.
In addition to that, the Federation were looking for a centre for coaching. So eventually, we got together with the CA and the Southeast Croquet Federation, and agreed to setup the Academy. That started in 2007, and it's been pretty successful ever since.
How do you see it changing over the next few seasons?
That's a very good question. We're now in a competitive world, and whereas, when we started, the Croquet Academy was the academy for the whole country. We’ve now got four. And that means we've got competition. I think what will happen going forward is that the four academies will work together so that we'll probably all be offering beginners and improvers courses but as we get to the higher level courses we'll probably share them around so that you would have say one in the North and one of the South each year or one in the West and one in the East. And with the very high level courses, like the Triple Peel Course, you'll probably have one covering the whole country.
The other thing that will happen is that professionalism will improve. If we don't improve we'll die, it's as simple as that because the other academies will be seeking to improve and it's our responsibility to do the same.
Is there a particular emphasis this season?
Yes, this season we want to get our existing coaches in and around the Federation and give them some new ideas, update them on changes that are taking place with coaching and the rules. And in addition, change the way that we coach AC. AC has traditionally been a big struggle and part of it is that people lose the will to live in the early stages with too much jargon and fairly long, protracted courses. Whereas last autumn Frances Low did a trial using Short Croquet. It was modular so it meant that people on the course, were taking it a little bit of the time. This made it far easier to understand and the jargon was reduced - we can't get rid of it completely, but you certainly can reduce it. And in the trial, at the moment only one person out of the twelve is actually stepped down. And that is highly successful. When I think back to the early part of the this millennium, the fallout rate was as much as probably 70 - 80%. So this is a great step forward. It's also the same as is being experienced in the north of England. So I think we’re definitely on to something and we want to emphasise the opportunity for people to take up AC via this course which is going to be run during this summer.
(Discussion to be continued)