What does the ATBA-UK do? Most people seem to think that all the ATBA-UK does is organise competitions. Granted, a lot of our time and energy does go into the competitions, but that isn’t all we do. Things like competitions and instructor training are our ‘products’, but like any business, there is more to what we do, why we do it, and what we’re hoping to achieve.
The ATBA-UK’s mission is to support the growth of mountainboarding in the UK. That’s what we do, sure, but the how is a bit more complicated. The ATBA-UK is a community-building organisation. That’s how we support the growth of mountainboarding; by building the community of mountainboarders. Everything we do is about building that community. So, what do we do?
We sell low priced secondhand boards that have been donated to us by members of the community. This generates income for the ATBA-UK, but it also makes it easier for beginners to get over one of the barriers of getting into mountainboarding; the cost of the equipment. But selling cheap boards doesn’t just make us money like most shops, we also make more mountainboarders, which will become members of the community.
Our competitions give mountainboarders with a wide range of abilities the opportunity to achieve in their chosen sport, but what the competitions really do is bring together mountainboarders from across the country. The competitions provide a time and a place for the members of the community to meet, spend time together, establish, maintain and reinforce those social connections. This is important for those mountainboarders who are part of the competitive scene to feel a part of the community.
Instructors are vital for growing mountainboarding. The more instructors we have teaching people how to mountainboard, the more people we’ll have mountainboarding. More people mountainboarding equals more people in the community. Mountainboarding is quite unique amongst action sports in that it has had instructors and a growing body of knowledge about how to teach it right from the start. Most of the other sports had people doing them for years before anyone thought about how to teach them, but Stu had the foresight to realise that the easiest way to get people into a relatively unknown sport is to teach them how to do it. That’s why the ATBA-UK puts a lot of time into improving instructor training; because it builds the community.
Membership Packages for new riders, recreational riders, competitive riders and instructors brings value to the community. I don’t know how many of the ATBA-UK members use the discounts they get at centres, shops, ski slopes, etc., but they are there and we add to them every year. I sometimes think that the ATBA-UK gets more out of riders being members than the riders do, but the truth is that members are really important to the ATBA-UK. Without a strong membership base we will never achieve Sport England recognition so in this case its the community that is supporting the growth of mountainboarding, which is exactly how it should be.
The last thing about the ATBA-UK and the mountainboarding community, the most important thing, the thing that gives it all its strength, is that the people who run the ATBA-UK are members of the community that the ATBA-UK is building. So, as the community gets stronger, the ATBA-UK gets stronger, which in turn makes the community even stronger.