Are you player-centred? Or are you being run for the benefits of the coaches?
Many traditional sports providers are struggling to attract and retain participants and players as they often focus on the talented and dedicated people and, sometimes deliberately, ignore the less talented and motivated.
We have seen cases where the coach of the under 12s football team wrote to the parent of a 10-year old informing him that his son would not be allowed to join his team for the coming season as he was not good enough. He would, therefore, have to leave the club! (No, I am not making this up)
For another example have a look at this photo of Manchester City FC’s under 5s Junior Academy Elite team. You simply cannot install that winning mentality early enough!
We live in an increasingly diverse society and your club should reflect the community your serve – people from various ethnic and faith groups, people with disabilities (both mental and physical), demographics, etc. Being welcoming means that you are welcoming to everyone.
That under 12 player may have an 8-year old disabled sister who would like to play some football, that mum of two players may have a friend who also has two kids but is from the ‘wrong’ side of town, and so on. Do you make a concerted effort to attract and welcome people from across your WHOLE community? Trust me, its worth it and makes your club feel a better place
Too much coach traditional sports education is focused on coaching and not ensuring that the players are having fun and enjoying themselves, regardless of skills and talent. There is so much focus on ‘player pathway’ aimed at those talented players who can ‘progress’ onto county, regional and national levels. There is little room and scope for the ‘clumsy’ 17-year old.
So, in order to engage those groups, there is increasing scope for the growing number sport for change and non-sport providers of physical activity who see sport and physical activity as a tool to engage people and communities. They are focused on being inclusive, not competitive, on inclusion and diversity, not on creating winners,
Clubs with male dominance are more likely to be performance focused and less diverse
Research led by Ramon Spaaij at University of Victoria, Australia revealed that a focus on performance and competitiveness negatively affected junior sports clubs’ commitment to diversity and inclusive participation. Gender and a range of attitudes about diversity were also strongly related. On average, they found that men were more likely to support a pro-performance stance, be homophobic, endorse stricter gender roles, and endorse violence as a natural masculine trait.
In addition, men were less likely to hold pro-disability attitudes. These findings suggest that the participation-performance tension and gender affect to what extent, and how, sports clubs engage children and young people with diverse backgrounds and abilities.
Is this your club/place?
So, what we are doing about the challenges of getting more people active, especially the ones do see themselves as being sporty?
In partnership with Dannielle Roberts at Proper Active, we have set up the #MoreThanSport Academy – providing training and support for Activity Growers to get more people active. Here is an overview of the approach of the Academy:
We are about to launch our new 3-hour workshop The Welcoming Coach: How to engage with inactive people.
We will soon be announcing our new conference, What workforce is going to get Britain more active?, We are looking at a late November date, in Manchester.
The conference will cover topics such as
- Is our current sporting workforce fit for purpose to get Britain more active?
- How can we develop and encourage a new way of thinking and behaviour within the current workforce
- How can we attract and support a new workforce who will come from outside the traditional sport and physical activity sector
- How coaches can help deliver sport for change
- New places to get people active: Active Hospitals, Active Parks, Active Workplaces, Active Care Homes
- New people to engage with the inactive: NHS staff, social workers, police officers, social enterprises
- Training and supporting coaches to engage with inactive people
You can learn more about the #MoreThanSport Academy click here
If you want to learn more about to become more inclusive and diverse and engage with inactive people, get in touch