Some might say for sports clubs and leisure centres to develop social capital they must become community hubs and a place where one could say that ‘people live their lives’. But, even for clubs without their own facilities this principle applies as they go out into the community and engage with people and groups where they are and not wait for them to come to their club.
Any club that wants to share value with its community must open up the club and the way it operates to people from outside its ‘inner circle’. By gradually engaging with new groups and institutions e.g. from Women’s Institutes to colleges, you will also connect with new audiences who will bring new ideas, people and skills to your club.
The point here is to embrace all these new opportunities as they could be key to improving the way you run your club in many ways.
Developing social capital is a great way of developing new tools and ways of sporting and enterprise success for your facility and club.
You will attract people with new ideas, skills and contacts so new opportunities will open up for you.
Social capital = goodwill account with your community
You need to develop what we call ‘social capital’ which we define as the shared norms and values which your club, enterprise or centre has with your community. You could also call it your goodwill account with your community. The bigger your goodwill account is, the more people will wan to become members, volunteers and partners – it becomes a fortuitous circle.
This isn’t just for the big boys
I have come across a large number of sport and physical activity providers who start out as a ‘homeless’ one-man-bands and who are now delivering great programmes for their communities.
So, even, if you are ‘small club’ we can only urge you to start growing your social capital within your community.
How to connect
(here are some ideas and examples of how you can connect and build social capital)
- Engage with the Police to help reduce anti-social behaviour amongst young people using sport as a lever
- Engage with housing associations to deliver sporting and social events for their tenants
- Engage with local college/university to bring in students as volunteers. They get work-experience and you skilled volunteers with new ideas
- Invite community groups, public bodies, charities and others to set up a Network where you could deliver joint projects
- Link up with community partners possibility of jointly taking over community assets
- Organise community, sporting events such as Fun Runs, Doggy Walks, Midnight Walks etc. You raise money for your club and a local charity and are seen as a community partner
- Prove to the local NHS that you can help improve health and reduce obesity and deliver programmes for them