WHY BE A MEMBER OF THE PICKLEBALL ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO (PAO)
Unfortunately the PAO probably has not been the best communicator about the value of the $10 membership fee. The PAO was incorporated in 2011 by a group of committed individuals with a vision and saw that an organized provincial profile, presence and voice in the province was essential. There was a need for a common entity that enabled them to organize a membership list and communication structure to link, share information, provide support, guidance and assistance to regional groups, including, invitational visits to start up groups to introduce the game in different locations of the province.
Soon there was a website, published newsletters and an annual tournament that enabled players to meet, compete, develop friendships and support structures around the province.
Since that time, others have volunteered to assist and carry the vision forward.
We are all volunteers, who donate many, many, many hours of our time to promote and assist the growth of Pickleball in Ontario. We do not receive any compensation for travel, accommodation, gas or other out of pocket expenses to assist various provincial communities when asked to come and demo/teach the sport to new interested community groups as well as school programs through the province. Our membership fee goes towards the cost of hosting an annual tournament, the associated costs to run an tournament and association e.g. the information system (pickleball tournaments.com) used to register & manage the events; our annual insurance coverage policy that can also benefit our “All in Clubs” such as Thornbury, our annual website hosting fee, our rental PO box, our AGM room rental, postal box rental, printing paper etc. etc. etc.
As this sport continue to evolve and grow rapidly in province, we see the merit in having Pickleball recognized/designated by the Ministry of Sports Recreation and Tourism as an PSO (recognized Provincial Sports Organization). The PAO has met with our provincial sports Ministry Leadership team, who are learning about this new sport and have offered their support. WE ARE THE FIRST Provincial Pickleball Association in Canada, who now has a dedicated Ministry consultant assigned to the sport of Pickleball and who will guide us along our journey.
During the past year, we have been in discussions with Pickleball Canada, and some of the other Provincial Pickleball Associations. We all share this common vision and recognize the need to start working together, so this sport similar to other recognized sports, receives the recognition and funding it deserves.
This designation has certain benefits and is a status already in place with such other sports as badminton, tennis, racquet ball, squash, lawn bowling, hockey etc. etc. However lots of work is still required (policies in place, most already written, some of which we have made available for use at many clubs including Thornbury) to achieve this designation. The next part of this designation journey will be submitting a proposal for a Trillium grant in January to seek funding to enable the future development of a Pickleball coaching curriculum which must align with the Sport’s Canada framework, - a vital first step in the development of a teaching curriculum for adults, and youth! Another strategic goal is the development of a Referee Certification process and eventually the development of a sports curriculum to enable players with disabilities.
There is cost associated with hiring someone to write a grant. It is a long journey! However with, the support of our members who see value in supporting the growth of the sport and its recognition status for the benefit and development of all levels of players, it is well worth our volunteer time and effort!
The question that is always asked by communities
when encouraged to be an “All in Club,” ….. “ What is in it for me?”
We prefer to answer it this way:
- You are supporting an organized provincial voice, profile, communication structure and volunteer organization that has developed several resource initiatives to support and guide the growth of Pickleball in schools and communities across the province.
- You are supporting a dedicated group of volunteers from around the province who FREELY contribute MANY hours of their time and talents, to organize an annual tournament, maintain provincial communication structures e.g. the newsletter, website, membership, insurance options, Ontario Sports Ministry contacts and develop membership resources at the pleasure of the members.
- Pickleball is one of the only sports in Canada and Ontario that has been historically disadvantaged because there has been no provincial presence OR voice to start pursuing a “PSO” designation - “Provincial Sport Organization.” Why is this important? This designation augments the PAO’s opportunity to compete and successfully access provincial sport grants that will benefit our provincial members. Our challenge… it will require ongoing provincial dialogue and also meeting the Sport’s Ministry criteria to position the PAO for grant funding. Most importantly, doing so requires a strong membership base without the benefit of paid staff, to do the heavy lifting! One of the required criteria is the development of a Certified Coaching Program for Pickleball in Ontario.
- This sport is 50 years young and is taught in the USA school curriculum. If we are to shake off the Canadian stigma of an old person’s sport and embrace an intergenerational profile, Pickleball needs a membership base and an Association to carry this quest forward to the government bodies. We believe with everyone’s support, commitment, persistence AND volunteerism, Pickleball will eventually become designated, which will open doors to grant funds and overtime receive an Olympic Sport designation. It starts with a supportive membership base, ongoing development of a provincial profile and VOICE to move the yardstick forward!
- The PAO has not raised its’ membership fee since its’ inception. An annual $10 membership fee equates to 6 cups of coffee at Tims’! A good investment value in the sport we love and in our preferred future!