Thunderbird Football Association
The TFA is an organization of dedicated people who care about UBC football and its alumni. We provide a connection point through which alumni, parents, donors and friends of the program can channel their passion. Our purpose is to steward the legacy of UBC football by building a vibrant and engaged community. We help early-career alumni transition to life after football.
TFA 2020 President's Report
To the UBC alumni, players, coaches, and supporters:
The Thunderbird Football Association just finished it’s 2020 Annual General Meeting. At the AGM it is my duty as President of the TFA is to report on the health and direction of the organisation. It’s a good reminder that you “row forward looking back”.
There seems little value in dwelling on the challenges that Covid-19 has created for our alumni community and football team. This crisis has been most challenging for current players as much of their structure and purpose has postponed and restricted. For the TFA, as an organisation that puts significant effort towards the team and in-person alumni events, the TFA has had to adjust as well.
Yet, there is much to be excited about over the past year. One of our goals was to restore our close relationship with the team and players and thanks to Blake, his staff, and the interest of the players we’ve had great success. I remember when I was a player, I didn’t meet any alumni that weren’t coaches until the TFA held the first event I attended (and here I am years later). It’s truly exciting that this is no longer the experience – and we’ll continue to grow our involvement and support. Our purpose is to build a vibrant, engaged and successful UBC football community – and to achieve this purpose we need to be known to the players and present and helpful for young alumni. Our long term growth as an alumni community will come from keeping new alumni engaged.
We also ran our largest Mastermind Dinner yet in November with over 50 attendees, including a large group of current players. And as Covid hit, we were still able to run a number of online sessions for young alumni focused on career development with topics like “Creating Top Notch Resumes” and “Investing During Uncertainty and Crisis”.
Another major goal was to expand the TFA leadership and we succeeded in adding four new alumni to our board. I have to say, our board is a group that is engaged with our mission and focused on getting things done. And the TFA is always looking for new members who want to build the alumni and the team, if you are interested please reach out!
Our mentorship program was a beneficiary of this with a new champion which has given some exciting new direction to the program. This is an important program for us: mentorship is a key piece of our “Thunderbird 4 Life” program, it is of direct service to our community while connecting new and long-time alumni. Further, our Peer Board of Advisors, a mid-career mastermind group, has continued strong.
Looking ahead there is still much for the TFA to do. I already mentioned our enduring purpose as an organization: to build a vibrant, engaged and successful UBC football community. This is as necessary during Covid-19 as before. To accomplish this, we need a strong relationship with the football team, a strong internal team, and tools and events which both connect and support alumni. There is much that has been accomplished and much to do.
To help build a stronger team, we have stepped back into the role in fundraising. Our leadership is putting together a program to support both the TFA and the team – doing so sustainably without burning our alumni. This is something that needs to be done right – and will be.
There are two foundations to this program: transparency and connection. Unlike in the past, every dollar will be accounted for and every dollar will go where it’s supposed to go. The TFA will not directly receive donations meant for the team (we will take donations for TFA operations) and the UBC Athletic Department has a number of new procedures in place that allow us to see and trust where the money is going.
Further, the TFA has been around for over a decade now and is stronger than ever. As part of our program, we will be communicating with alumni donors and holding events that keep them connected to the team, to fellow alumni, and up-to-date on how money has been spent and what it has accomplished. There will be no pump and dump of alumni.
All this means that we now have transparency on fundraising that has long rankled our alumni. The TFA will serve as mechanism to communicate with alumni, to watchdog and represent alumni interests, and to serve as a bridge between donors and the team. As we will not be holding onto funds directly (again, other than donations to the TFA itself) it will not be possible for money to be misappropriated. Fundraising will go straight to the team’s bank accounts as desired by the donors and with the new, rigorous UBC mechanisms (never mind Blake’s oversight) we have faith in the Department that may not have been there 10 years ago.
What else is there to look forward to? We are still running events and programs that serve the community, whether in person or online. This is a moment for creativity and trying new things, we have an alumni that is over a thousand strong and so there are many needs and interests to meet.
A major endeavor to look forward to is our jobs program, which will create a structure for alumni to identify and hire young talent, whether alumni or current players (see below). This will be a big program that will help to serve our younger alumni and players but also the broader alumni body by making it easy to connect with talented, ambitious men. I know how hard hiring can be. This is also an important program for the team by both providing players with summer jobs and work experience while also being a major recruiting tool.
Even without games in 2020 there is much for the UBC football community to do. The TFA has always been about more than just football – we spend most of our lives not as players but alumni. Going forwards in 2020 and 2021, there is still a need for connection, relationship, and development. This means mentorship, career building, social events – but also more avenues for older alumni to be engaged.
I’m proud of what our team accomplished this past year and am looking forward to the next. We are seeing growing alumni involvement and support – not just for the TFA but for the alumni as a whole. After all: we are all T-birds, we’re all true blue.
Christopher Mark, President
& the TFA Board of Directors
The TFA’s 2020 AGM was sponsored by Digby Leigh & Co.
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- BOARD OF ADVISORS
The TFA also runs a Peer Board of Advisors for mid-career alumni. It operates like a mastermind with 6-8 alumni meeting once a month to provide advice and a sounding board for fellow alumni. We’ve received phenomenal feedback and are looking to grow the number of PBoAs running. If you are interested or just want more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- MENTORSHIP PROGRAM
The TFA runs a Mentorship Program for UBC football alumni. We are always looking for both mentors and mentees, if you are interested fill out the form HERE.
Events take two forms:
- Mastermind events and
- Social events
The purpose of Mastermind events is to provide topical insights and expertise that supports the success of our younger alumni as they develop in their careers and life. TFA Social events take place in a casual environment, such as a bar and provide a forum for camaraderie and networking.
Events are a key platform of our Thunderbird 4 Life (T4L) initiative along with our Mentorship and Peer Board of Advisors (PBoA) programs.
The Thunderbird 4 Life (T4L) Mentorship Program provides ambitious, young members of our community with access to the experience and expertise of our more established members. Our established members represent a wide range of businesses and professions in Vancouver, across Canada, and globally.
The Peer Board of Advisors is a small mastermind chaired by an experienced UBC alum. It presents a chance for mid-career alumni to present issues and challenges to fellow alumni as well as an opportunity for accountability.
The TFA is always looking for new members, contributors and supporters whether you’re a player, alumni, parent, or friend of the program. We believe our community is a broad one including anyone who has a love for UBC football and its supporters.
We’re a volunteer organisation and our impact on our alumni community is thanks to people who generously give time and money.
So whether you’re looking to join the TFA, have some ideas for the alumni, questions about what the TFA does or how you can contribute, please reach out.