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18th June 2009

Did You Know the Average Age of Anglers in the UK is 56?

Angling is a wrinklies sport, that's official or so says the anorak paid to come up with such useful statistics. Scary though init?

Someone needs to do something about our geriatric age profile and someone is. Angling for Youth Development has just gone one step closer to becoming the leading angling organisation in Scotland by launching the first qualification in in Game Angling. Accredited by the Scottish Qualification Authority the new AFYD Game Angling course is being piloted at Blairgowrie High School giving the lads and lasses at school the chance to attain a Scottish Credit Standard Grade, equal to an SVQ level 2, in their favourite sport. Now that's special, a first.

The work of organisations like AYFD is bring young people into the sport with amazing success, re-engaging them in learning and career development as well as introducing them to a life long sport.

Every angling club or association, youth group or school should sign up to the AYFD programme. The youth of today are not just the future of our sport they are the future of our society and the results to date from AYFD programmes in Scotland have shown that, when mentored, youngsters take to fishing with enthusiasm with consequent changes for the better in their behaviour and attitude.

Fishing is a force for good in society, the work of AYFD should be applauded, they are promoting what we all know - fishing is good for you.

21st May 2009

Someone should have told me I was banging on in vain about angling in the hope that politicians would wake up to the voting power of millions of easily influenced eligible citizens. Let's face it, lads and laddetes who can have their ducks re-homed or moats cleaned at the tax payers expense don't give a monkeys about voters.

They are the chaps and chapesses who sit on committees looking for some civil servant to give them soothing 'stats' that prove that by diverting cash to their mock Tudor house frontage rather than spending it on actual social issues matters can presented to the advantage of their well lined nests. Let's say they are 'ducking' the issues the matter.

Had I just used my brain cell I could have suggested better 'outcomes' could been achieved by promoting angling; proved improved health benefits could be 'accrued' from additional omega rich food consumption as a consequence of more bag limits being achieved under the present government than under the previous regime.

Heck I'm getting the hang of this lingo, mmm, expenses!

7th March 2009

The Credibility Crunch

Don't we just scream loudest when the bad stuff happens on our own doorstep, me included. Bet your thinking, credit crunch and how it will affect our ability to buy tackle and pay for permits instead of the mortgage, dog food and kids sweets.

One thing for sure it won't have much impact on what little financial support the biggest participant sport (ever) gets from the government, very little it would seem. Just saw the tail end of the Unkraine / UK Davis Cup match on TV. 'Team GB' were gubbed again and little Sue Barker, bless, had the temerity to ask why with all of the millions spent on tennis development we can't be better than the Ukraine (an impecunious nation), Serbia (just recently recovering from a devastating internecine war) and lord knows how many other nations less well heeled than us. The reply was pure Brit, er, well he have had results, Andy Murray for example, well he is our only success, we lack strength in depth, i.e. we are one deep!

Who sponsors Andy Murray (a fine young Scot by the way and good luck to him), RBS, an other success story, one very deep in the Do Do.

Pity RBS hadn't had an institutional attitude towards prudence, things that last the test of time unlike these newbie sports like tennis, just a few hundreds of years old. Prudence would have taken them towards chucking at least the equal of a former chief executives pension into a real solid stayer like angling. What would £16million do for the development of angling UK wide.

Well wisdom of hind site is a terrible affliction and angling will no doubt have to cope with the crumbs from the table where more deserving sports like, shot putt, get served their dinners.

Now where was I, I digress, yes I was on about the proverbial Do Do landing on my own door step.

I was a member of the the Berwick and District Angling Association until January when the Management Committee passed a motion at a sparsely attended AGM to cease having salmon fishing members i.e. most of the members. Having decided the issue they advertised the AGM in the local newspaper (Berwick only) forgetting that most members actually live in Berwickshire and don't take that Berwick paper. Net result, the motion was carried at the meeting attended by about 10 committee and an equal number of members. Motion carried by, as they say a vast majority.

I won't go into the gory details (they are all in the Whiteadder Feature page) but it sums up angling in some quarters. Arrogant, opinionated sods get in the way of progress. Narrow minded jealousies intrude on cogent thought. I was at the AGM of an angling governing body last year and heard such a load of phlegm from some vociferous chaps I really wanted then to shut up and go away, they reeked of negativity (tobacco and stale beer).

No wonder angling struggles to get the recognition it deserves when those who 'run' the sport on our behalf haven't the nouse to do what's right for angling development; by doing that which encourages youngsters to participate on fishing, doesn't put women off because of sexist attitudes best left in the Royal and Ancient, by not playing lip service to seniors and anglers with disabilities.

What happened in my club could happen to you if you don't watch out. Mean time the smart money will go to shot putt and ski boarding and tennis rather than into a sport that is exceptional in just about every respect except for the attitude of some of those who have positions of influence.

My advice is, as they say in golf circles (mega bucks funded) don't take your eye off the ball because there are too many incompetents out there that do an injustice to the credibility of angling, surly it must be crunch time for them!

December 2009

The Spey at Grantown Old Bridge as night fallsWhy watch telly when you can go fishing and if you can't go fishing, log on to the new look Spinfish. Bigger, better with a monster 'Where to Fish Directory' where you can plan your next trip to angling heaven! I know what I would chose every time, so isn't it a sin that when we get to the river it is populated by wrinklies like me. Where are the youngsters?

Not for one moment I am going to suggest that the youth of today are out mugging grannies and doing each other in, we know that kids nowadays are just as law abiding as the last generation so let's not have any of that 'when I was a lad we were all angels' rubbish.

Kids today live in a techno society, consequently they may find the outdoor life a bit old fashioned, boring, not kool. Get them out on the water though and the old magic can and does grab them hook, line and sinker. It is great to see initiatives like Angling For Youth Development, the Spey Angler Association (and many others) taking a lead in introducing kids to the excitement of angling and more power to their elbow.

Organisations like Dreamstore Academy, a charitable group set up to make angling accessible to kids, adults and people with disabilities, does fantastic work in spreading the word and training volunteers to become qualified angling coaches. So what part is HM Government playing in spreading the word that angling is good medicine? Despite the work ongoing, angling is still abysmally underfunded by government.

AFYD has noted a significant drop in reoffending when kids, who got into a bit of bover, joined up. It's about time angling got a bigger slice of the pie. Central government funds need to be allocated to Angling Development, to improving the aquatic environment to the betterment of all water user and I don't mean pennies. If it helps reduce youth offending while enhancing the health of the nation it's money well spent.

Angling is the biggest participant sport in the country and I doubt it gets anywhere as much cash support as field sports in athletics. Now you tell me what's worth more, helping millions of anglers get more from their sport and showing kids there's more to life than text and Xbox or teaching an elite few to putt a shot, boink over a bar on a pole or chuck a javelin out of the stadium?

Come on Gordon, be a Darling, shove some of that cash you are flashing about for social reform and the London Olymics to a sport that has brought relaxation and satisfaction to humanity since Man first walked this Earth. It's a vote winner!