Jitendra Duffill: British Speedway must now find a way to move forward (interview)
Jitendra Duffill is a promoter for Redcar Bears Speedway (SGB Championship). In an interview for TwojPortalZuzlowy.pl he tells us about recently finished „Bears Ben Fund Run”, approaching AGM and his take on future of British Speedway.
On 7th of January another AGM will occur. This year meeting will definitely be one of the most challenging in recent years. Not only is the league racing returning after a year long gap, but also new league limits are being introduced by polish speedway federation.
Our guest has also shared some more light on „Bears Ben Fund Run”, wonderful initative that ended couple of days ago.
Julian Golański (Twój Portal Żużlowy): Firstly I would like to know how did the idea of ‘Bears Ben Fund Run’ came to be?
Jitendra Duffill: The idea for the „Ben Fund Run” came about much earlier, in March, during the first lockdown here in the United Kingdom. The idea then was to run 10 kilometers per day for one month, but things changed a little my end and it never happened. In September, I told my co-promoters Jamie (Swales) and Jade (Mudgway) that I definitely intended to start a running challenge in November and asked if they wanted to join me. Jamie accepted straight away, but Jade only decided to join us at the very last minute. I have a lot of respect for both of them for doing that.
– Was it as „tough” as you have written on the official website of the club in October?
– The Speedway Riders’ Benevolent Fund does fantastic work here in the UK, like supporting seriously injured riders. They rely heavily on track collections to raise funds, so their fundraising was hit hard in 2020 by the cancellation of the British Speedway season. We wanted to do our bit at Redcar Speedway to support them and wanted the challenge to be difficult, as we thought people would be more likely to support it that way. The challenge was indeed hard and our bodies took a bit of a battering. My knees are still in a bad way and I wouldn’t repeat this challenge because of the pressure it puts on the joints.
– Are The Bears planning any more actions similar to this one in the future?
– We don’t have any firm plans to do another challenge right now, but I’m sure we will end up doing something, as we feel very proud to help during a time of need. It has left us with a real feeling of satisfaction and achievement. Crossing the line together as we ran the last lap of our track at Redcar Speedway was an awesome feeling and it was even better to do it with friends. The support that we have had from sponsors and supporters of speedway has been incredible. I can’t thank them enough. There are some amazing people in the world of speedway.
– AGM is coming in a couple of days. What are your hopes for 2021 season?
– Our AGM takes place on the 7th of January and I’m not entirely sure what the outcome will be. A lot of long and complex discussions have taken place over the last few months, as British Speedway faces some difficult challenges in relation to rider availability. This year’s ruling in Poland to restrict rider’s racing in foreign leagues has obviously created a problem. British Speedway must now find a way to move forward without the riders who are affected and we are looking for the best way to do that. It’s a very sensitive and difficult situation.
– What can be done to help British Speedway in longer perspective?
– It is my opinion that British Speedway must create more opportunities for young British riders. A plan to help these riders develop has been long overdue and a structure that creates opportunities, nurtures talent and has a clear progression path is needed. A plan that looks at the next three – five years must be developed to succeed and Poland’s youth programme is a superb example of what can be achieved when young talent is allowed to thrive.
– What is your opinion regarding the limits of different leagues introduced by polish federation? Currently it is sort of a really hot topic in speedway community all around the world…
– Poland’s ruling has not been received well here in the United Kingdom and that will come as no surprise, but in my opinion it has highlighted a problem that has been developing in British Speedway for some time. We have to accept some responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in. It is my opinion that British riders have not always had the support they needed and we are seeing the results of that.
– So the question remains… What’s next?
– Polish Speedway seems to be looking after itself, but money talks and that gives the Polish leagues the power when it comes to rider negotiations. Poland knows that and so do the riders. Personally, I don’t feel bitter. I see a business decision being made and it is what it is. You play with the cards that you are dealt and it is extremely important that British Speedway now respond and plan wisely, putting its own business plan in place for the future.
– And last but not least – how are the negotiations with riders going in this unique time? Will it be possible to keep the same team from 2020 or are you already expecting that some changes will be necessary?
– Redcar Speedway is fortunate that we have all of our riders available to us in 2021 at the time of writing. The current situation is fluid and we are aware things can change, but we hope to have the same seven riders come to tapes next season. Having said that, there is certainly a chance that a change will have to be made if new rules are introduced at the AGM. At the end of the day, myself and my co-promoters only want what is best for British Speedway. That should always be the priority and no individual club is ever bigger than the sport itself.