Like so many other community sports clubs across the UK, grassroots football clubs in Wales are facing strong challenges in terms of attracting and retaining volunteers, developing more innovative ways to generate income, creating stronger links with local community partners and adapting to and benefiting from changes in lifestyles and communication.
“At the Football Association of Wales we aim to assist and support grassroots clubs in terms of coaching, player and referee development and the many other sporting aspects involved with running the sport and the clubs,” says Andrew Howard, Head of Competitions, FAW. “However, it became increasingly clear to us that many of our grassroots clubs are finding it difficult to develop and implement some stronger enterprise aspects of managing their clubs. At the same time many of the previous funding opportunities are no longer available to the clubs where many are also facing increasing pitch hire costs from their local authority hosts,” adds Andrew.
So, through Sport Wales, FAW got in touch with Svend Elkjaer of Sports Marketing Network and in December 2011 Svend ran the first of a series of three-hour Grow Your Football Club workshops. In all five workshops were held across Wales with really positive feedback from the participating clubs (some of the feedback can be seen in the box below).
Based on the success of the initial workshops another series has now been planned for grassroots football clubs across Wales in July. Andrew Howard explains: “In consultation with the clubs and Svend of SMN we have developed workshop content specifically to help the clubs develop and implement some key initiatives which can really help them to become vibrant, visible and viable. Svend is also producing guides and workbooks which the clubs will then use in the follow-up after workshops. He will then also act as a ‘remote mentor’ where he will support the clubs by ‘phone and email, to help and motivate them to overcome the various, inevitable hurdles.”
Two specific workshops and a support programme will also be run for the clubs who will be playing in the re-launched Welsh National Women’s Premier League.
“We are setting up one National League for our best women’s teams and here Svend will also be providing the clubs with thoughts, tools and to-dos on how they can become sustainable community sports enterprises. It’s all very exciting,” ends Andrew Howard.
The programme in detail
Grow Your Football Club
How engaging with your community and volunteers can help your club become viable and sustainable
A workshop and support programme
In order to become successful and sustainable grassroots football clubs must work for and with their communities, and as a consequence, both parties benefit. They are in reality Hubs for their Communities which share values and link up their assets, skills and relationships with people, groups and institutions in their communities.
The benefits of this approach can be considerable in terms of growing membership and volunteer base, increasing income and helping to ensure that the club and the community is sustainable in the long-term.
At the same time a few changes and actions can help the club to become a more fun and inspiring place for people to volunteer. Often there are a number of people within reach of the club who can make a contribution, if only the club were to become more welcoming, better structured and were to change the way it engages with people and organisations around it.
This workshop will provide you with literally dozens and dozens of proven ways how to make your club attractive to skilled and dedicated volunteers who can make a real difference and to become a hub for the community.
This will also help you to develop initiatives which will help your club become viable and sustainable.
No boring theory…just exciting, positive and proven action points drawn from best practice from sports clubs and other providers at all levels across the UK and abroad.
The presenter will draw from literally hundreds of best practice case studies from community-based, volunteer-run sports clubs from across most sports.
Attracting and retaining skilled and passionate volunteers by
- How to manage a vibrant community sports club by developing your culture and skills
- Developing strong community partnerships with education, community groups, health organisations and others
- How to become well connected to your community – the Police, the schools, the Women’s Institute, the Sea Cadets, the faith groups etc.? Do you know them and do they know you?
- How to best assess your potential for working with community partners – what are your assets, relationships and skills?
- How to identify your Community Connectors (people in official/unofficial roles within your community) – and how to work with them
- How to find the best ways to work together, benefitting both parties
- Attracting and retaining skilled and passionate volunteers by
- Tidying up your club (both physically and mentally)
- Talking to people
- Touching their hearts
- Convince their heads
- Deciding which tasks you would like to be carried our
- Making sure the right tools are available
- Making people feel they are part of the team
- Giving them training and support
- Being open to new ideas
- Saying thank you
At the workshops representatives from the clubs will be introduced to the How engaging with your community and volunteers can help your club become viable and sustainable workbook.
This workbook will help the clubs and their leaders to develop their own easy-to-use checklists and action points to assist them to achieve concrete benefits and engage with your community and volunteers.
Following on from the workshop the clubs are invited to engage with the presenter, Svend Elkjaer, via email or telephone. Svend will be able to advise and support the clubs in their drive towards becoming a hub for the community and a magnet for volunteers.