How three cricket clubs in Scotland are moving forward, becoming hubs for their communities

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Three years ago Cricket Scotland embarked on a ground-breaking programme designed to help their clubs to become more vibrant, visible and viable, called Thriving Clubs.

Funded by the International Cricket Council (‘ICC’) they engaged Sports Marketing Network (‘SMN’) to deliver Grow Your Club workshops and webinars and work on a one-2-basis with selected clubs.

The key selection criterion for clubs to become involved with the project was not size, nor league table position, but a willingness to change and move forward.

We have seen some great cases of cricket clubs across Scotland which have made some great strides forward and three of them presented their story at Cricket Scotland recent second club conference #MuchMoreThanCricket. You can find their presentations on SMN’s website, but here is a summary of their stories:

Galloway Cricket Club “From acorn to oak tree”

Galloway is based in Gatehouse (pop. 1000) in a remote part of West Scotland. Their ‘pavilion’ was ramshackle, to say the least (see picture) but that did not deter the club from wanting to move forward. The club became involved with the Thriving Club programme and started a female section which became a key part of the club’s development. (Note to all male-based sports clubs: a) 51% of the population is female b) clubs with a good gender balance tend to be nicer and more welcoming).
More female volunteer coaches accelerated the club’s development and to raise the profile of the club they staged a 24-hour cricket match which certainly raised the profile and got new partners and sponsors involved. The club then won one of the awards in Cricket Scotland’s new club awards: “Scotland’s Most Welcoming Cricket Club” and the local Sports Council’s Club of the Year Award.
Trips to a number of cricket festivals were arranged engaging both female and male players and a number of social events ensured that the club atmosphere was warm and vibrant. Although you could not say that the temperature was warm when the club ran its first beach cricket event. Not in June, but in October. As you can see from the photo, beach cricket in Scotland may be better staged in the summer!

After a long. hard slog the club was then successful in securing funding for a new pavilion which now forms the base for the club’s aspirations to keep growing, remain diverse and a hub for the community.

Gala Cricket Club – becoming a hub for the community

Gala Cricket Club – becoming a hub for the community

This club is based in Galashiels which is located in the Scottish Borders with a population of around 15,000. The club’s ground enjoys a scenic location but the club was seen as being in the periphery of the community, a small playing base, little diversity amongst the membership and ageing facilities, to name some of the challenges facing the club.
The club got involved with the Thriving Club programme and decided that it wanted to become part of the community, as success off the field breeds success on it. They started to engage with ‘bite-sized’ volunteers and to think outside the box. They consulted with Cricket Scotland, clubs members and local businesses and created a five-year plan based around three themes: Community Engagement, Performance and Participation. Working groups covering these themes were set up, encouraging ‘bite-size’ volunteers to become involved.

A number of community engagement activities followed all bringing new people to the club and generating income: Sponsored dog walk, Tea in the Tent, first reunion in 14 years, social sixes event, Family Fun Day, Gala Day alongside the usual social events and making the club’s facilities available for community events.
External funding was secured to improving facilities, including building female changing rooms.
Videos were being used to spread the word to the community, sponsors and partners.
Also, working with the local community regeneration group the club created a new shop front display in the town centre.
The club recognises that they are still on a long journey, but they have the confidence and clear plans. And, by the way, they have just won the Borders Sports Club of the Year Award!

Westquarter & Redding Cricket Club  –  on the road to becoming a community club

This Falkirk-based club was formed in 1908 and in 1995 sold its ground and bought a ground at a farm with a farmhouse, which required substantial repairs. The club had cash in reserves, but the crash in 2008 meant the interest paid did not generate sufficient capital.
Following discussions and soundings, it was decided to turn the farmhouse into a children’s nursery and a commercial nursery opened in 2015 paying a rent that has now secured the financial future of the club.
Now was the time to consider the other aspects of the club’s future and key was to build a thriving junior section by making it fun, promoting it, making it safe and engage the whole family…the Westies were born. Coaching sessions in local schools were set up, welcome meetings held and an online Welcome Pack was produced.

New practice nets were installed and cricket sets were to six primary schools.

The club then started to attract more adult members and raised its profile, securing sponsorship from the local Tesco Extra.
The club now has 12 volunteer coaches, parents are engaged and the club is becoming about much than just playing cricket. As with Gala CC the club is increasingly moving away from being run by a committee to involving ‘bite-size’ volunteers in project groups.
The club has now got the appetite for moving further forward and become a fully inclusive community hub.
So, the club is financially safe and a hub for its community…and has grown its membership from 40 to 140 in just two years. All through some simple baby steps.

“Our community sports clubs can adapt and move forward”, says Svend Elkjaer of SMN.
“The incredible progress and success at these three cricket clubs in Scotland highlight that often it is simply by being innovative and enterprising our community sports clubs can become vibrant, visible and viable. They need to be inspired and motivated, and voila…there are off!
We should encourage our clubs to take some baby steps, involve local change-makers and get involved with their local communities. Not stis Falkirk fle them with policies and procedures!

It CAN be done”, ends Svend.

To view the presentations from these remarkable club go here

Bringing everybody together with an interest in raising the profile of the great work that sport is doing in our communities developing even better work and initiatives…learning from best practice both within and outside sport

This event is not about policies and strategies. It focuses on best practice and provides thoughts, tools and to-dos. It provides opportunities for successful providers to highlight capabilities. Real stories and successes are to be told, lessons to be learned, and ideas and experiences to be shared on how to create a more vibrant, visible and viable Sport for Good sector

Community Sports Clubs – their future and role

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Is the community sports club a relic of the past, the hub of our communities, the basis for our medal winners or somewhere in between?

Community sports bodies and their clubs need to adopt a new mindset and learn a new skill set – taking the best from successful social enterprises and the hospitality sector. They have to recognise that sport operates in the experience business and that it is competing for people’s leisure time and money and has to attract people away from shopping centres, watching Love Island, apathy etc. by providing better experiences.

Community sports clubs are also facing strong challenges in order to survive and grow in an increasingly competitive and demanding market. How to attract new members and retain the existing ones, become a hub of the community, grow sponsorship revenue, improve the social life of the club, increase media coverage, benefit from new technology, introduce new revenue streams…

In order to survive and grow community sports clubs must ‘listen to people’s lives’ and develop new ways of running their clubs. They need to become more welcoming to attract and retain members and volunteers and they must ‘speak people’s’ language’ and communicate with them in a modern and engaging way.

How much focus is given to help clubs to develop into innovative and enterprising places, as opposed to someone who has to comply with the numerous demands for information and compliance from ‘above’?

We see an increased desire to start afresh when considering these challenges and opportunities and also an understanding that a more holistic and integrated approach is required…just to run a couple of workshops and then see the world change – it simply does not work.

We have also seen programmes where sports bodies just signpost their clubs to various external providers of training and support and the whole project becomes confused and ‘messy’.

We also have to accept that community sports clubs are all different. Different in their outlook, skillset, outlook, ambition and so on…some want to develop into social enterprises whereas others just want to ‘play their sport in the way they also have done’. So we will have to accept that some clubs will not buy into to become more enterprising and community-hub concept and that we should focus on those who want to become more vibrant, visible and viable.

In some cases, the ‘gazelle clubs’ will then become role-models for the ‘also-rans.

Perhaps there has been too much of a focus on getting clubs to comply with a number of policies which seemed important for people ‘up there’, but not necessarily for those volunteers who just want to ‘do their sport;.

In all walks of life, we are experiencing massive changes: 40%+ of UK households now subscribe to a streaming service, such as Netflix. 24% of the adult population work unsocial hours and 6% of the population are carers…so, how do we provide activities and places which take these factors into account. Does the way we organise training, leagues and events take ‘peoples’ lives’ into account?

If that rugby/football/cricket club which used to field seven teams now are struggling to put out two sides what are we to do?

Yes, we can blame all the external factors as listed above, but if the clubs are not prepared to change, then we can’t force them. At the same time, we are experiencing many clubs who are making a real difference in their communities while growing their membership and perhaps those two points seem to be interlinked.

We are experiencing innovative concepts which have proven very successful in getting inactive people into sport and physical activity and some of these initiatives take place in community sports clubs. However, many do not involve our sports clubs.

Initiatives such as Last Man Stands and All-Star are great examples from cricket Powerleague and Walking Football demonstrate that you can get people to play football and ParkRun and Back To Netball demonstrate that you can people back into running and playing netball. So, it CAN be done, but how often are our community sports clubs involved with these initiatives?

Some governing bodies estimate that around 20% of their community sports clubs are what you could call ‘fit for purpose’. We call those clubs ‘gazelle clubs’. Should we focus our club support initiatives and our funding on those clubs? Over the years I have seen £ millions being spent on facilities for clubs which simply did not have the wherewithal to run these facilities in an enterprising and financially sustainable way. Result: Wasted £££ and lots of grief.

Sports Marketing Network (SMN) has been working with 4000 community sports clubs across the UK and in Denmark on behalf of governing bodies of sports, sports organisations, local authorities and others. We have experienced some fantastic community sports clubs, often run along the lines of successful social enterprises by innovative and dedicated people. However, we have also come across far too many clubs run by ‘diehards’, who were reluctant to change and just waiting for the next grant to arrive.

We now believe that the time has come for a UK – wide debate on the future of our community sports clubs and how we work with them and support them.

We are therefore suggesting that we start with organising a one-day conference called

Basic value is the direct income from membership fees and match/tournament fees.

That income is, assuming that the club is breaking even and still has membership capacity. So, assuming, your annual membership fee is £80.00 and the new member spends £25.00 in match fees, the net annual income is £105.00.

If that member is then a member of your club for six years the total basic lifetime value is 6 times £105.00 = £630.00.
If we look at this in a purely business sense – as, say, a mobile phone company might regard this information – we know that each we shall lose a few members/customers (members), so we are interested in the average period we keep them in the income over that period.
It then follows you can increase the value of that member either by encouraging them to spend more money at your club and/or staying on as a member for longer. As an example, if we get the member to attend the club summer ball at a profit of £25.00 and stay on for eight years instead of six, the lifetime value of that member is 8 times £130.00 = £840.00 (an increase of 33%).

Community Sports Clubs – their future and role
How do we best develop and deliver club support and change programmes which can make a real difference?

  • So, what is the role of our community sports clubs in providing great sports experiences?
  • How do our national governing bodies and other sport organisations best develop and deliver club support and change programmes which can make a real difference?
  • Could we learn from the social enterprise support programmes?
  • Many sports bodies have boards and councils which have members who have ‘worked their way up’ because of their involvement with their clubs. They may not be the people who are best prepared to set the change in motion which is required to help. How do we best introduce club innovation and enterprise mind-set and skillset into our elected boards?
  • Should we more open and honest about the differing ambitions and abilities across our clubs?

This conference is designed to bring together everybody who is involved with developing and supporting community sports clubs across the UK so they can share ideas and experiences.

The target audience includes national governing bodies of sport, County Sports Partnerships, local authorities, sports organisations, educational institutions, funders and others with an interest in increasing physical activity and developing ou community sports clubs.

April 2018
Svend Elkjaer
Sports Marketing Network
01423 326 660

Bringing everybody together with an interest in raising the profile of the great work that sport is doing in our communities developing even better work and initiatives…learning from best practice both within and outside sport

This event is not about policies and strategies. It focuses on best practice and provides thoughts, tools and to-dos. It provides opportunities for successful providers to highlight capabilities. Real stories and successes are to be told, lessons to be learned, and ideas and experiences to be shared on how to create a more vibrant, visible and viable Sport for Good sector

How Mountain Ash Golf Club transformed itself by engaging with local primary schools

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How Mountain Ash Golf Club transformed itself by engaging with local primary schools

Mountain Ash Golf Club is a members-club which nestles on top of Cefnpennar mountain south of Merthyr Tydfil in the Welsh Valleys.
For a number of years, the Junior Section had become gradually smaller and by February 2016 virtually non-existent as there was no female member and only one registered junior affiliated to the club and he was 17 years of age.

Club management was determined to improve this situation and the club Chairman and Chair of Greens’ Committee led an initiative to increase junior membership, initially meeting with Golf Development Wales, Sports Development Department of Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council and local primary and secondary schools.
As a result, an event was organised for those club members willing to help to try and redress the membership problem. A golf festival was held with local primary schools at the local sports centre and almost 100 junior aged children attended. A local advertising campaign has held, and external grants sought to purchase equipment.
Equipment was also donated by club members.
Following this, coaching was arranged at the club, initially indoors in a multi-function room. From the first Saturday session in March 2016 numbers gradually increased from the initial seven in attendance and as the weather improved the first three holes of the golf course was closed to the general membership to allow the gradually increasing number of juniors to use the course.

In all 77 juniors enrolled for coaching throughout the remainder of the calendar year.

By now the Junior Section was being run by two volunteers who were club members, both of whom had many years of working in and with schools.

The club does not have a professional coach, however during the summer months only Joe Vickery was employed to help coach the juniors, and again, due to limited practice facilities, parts of the course were closed to the general club members.
Coaching continued during the winter months on the course, but during inclement weather, the local Sports centre was used for indoor coaching.

The key person behind the initiative is Stuart Whippey who retired a couple of years ago working in education
(cue; if you want to reach out to schools it helps to have someone with a background in education involved).

Cricket Scotland is launching #muchmorethancricket

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Cricket Scotland is launching
an initiative to stimulate and encourage innovation and enterprise
across cricket:


It aims to accelerate and build on the considerable work which is already going towards developing new ways of engaging more people and broadening the appeal of cricket.

Malcolm Cannon, Chief Executive Officer of Cricket Scotland said:
“Since I joined Cricket Scotland, I have been impressed with the innovation and enterprise across the sport. People developing different formats, often shorter and more engaging – it is all very exciting, and Cricket Scotland has played its part in this.

“But I also think that we should do more to encourage new thinking within the sport at all levels, within Cricket Scotland, our clubs, our partners and among the wider game. Changes in people’s lifestyles, consumer habits and expectations and their use of digital media are creating challenges and opportunities. We have to be ready to overcome the first and exploit the latter.”

He added: “We are very keen to hear from anybody within and outside cricket with suggestions on how we can best support new ideas and initiatives to help grow cricket and its impact on society.”

Key areas for #muchmorethancricket include:

  • Encouraging clubs to develop better relationships within their communities leading to more players, customers, partners and local people becoming involved
  • Working with diverse groups across society to develop an even more inclusive and welcoming sport which is relevant to people’s lives
  • Helping clubs to broaden their appeal and for their clubs to become hubs for their communities
  • Developing relationships with community partners, from education, housing, youth and ethnic groups to engage new people
  • Working across the sport to promote better use of social and digital marketing tools for communication

Cricket Scotland would like to hear your ideas,

comments and thoughts

Please email
The best ideas identified from the engagement campaign will be presented at the Cricket Scotland Club Forum on
Saturday 24th March in Stirling.Ian Sandbrook, Director of Participation at Cricket Scotland is managing the #muchmorethancricket programme, supported by Svend Elkjaer of Sports Marketing Network.

Create some really great moments in 2018

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Create some really great moments in 2018



“Most people will forget what you tell them, but they will never forget how you make them feel”

Most of us do the same things most of the time. Although we work hard, whether we are employed or volunteer, we tend to get into a routine. Which can be very boring, and we run the risk of becoming boring ourselves. That then shows in our approach to the people around us, who can tell that we are too busy organising next month’s rota or finishing that spreadsheet to show that we really care.

Think outside the box, break away from the daily routine and get inspired to develop and deliver great moments

Great moments can be created,and you can be the leader who inspires your colleagues to deliver those great moments, that is, if you want to?

Also, remember, what represents a ‘great moment’ will vary from person to person – whether you are trying to excite a fit, talented 19-year old with sporting ambitions or an overweight, 36-year old returner, what they perceive as being a great moment will vary considerably

The daily stress of running the club, trust or leisure centre often makes it difficult to find the time and space to create these moments for your colleagues, members or customers which make them feel special. Those moments they want to talk about, share with their social networks, which all will help raise your profile in the community.

Focus on the people you serve and make them feel special – celebrate their tiniest successes

Do something surprising

How many of our coaches and instructors consider whether they are creating great moments for people in their classes? Are they just going through the motions (pardon the pun!) of running their classes or do they demonstrate that they care about the people in front of them?
                                                                                                                                                       …Send people a birthday card

Give them a ‘well done’

This is so simple, doesn’t cost a penny and will set your place apart

Great moments create a great place. Great places grow.

Improving leadership in our community sports clubs

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From committee to project groups, from paper-based to digitally-enabled, from volunteers to change-makers/club-growers, from diehards to hormones…

As well as many of our sports bodies are undergoing, in some cases considerable, changes in the way they run their organisations, an increasing number of our community sports clubs are working on developing a more efficient and contemporary structure and culture for running their clubs.

I think that the days of the 18-man (yes, man!) sports club committees are numbered. Just because someone ‘has always been a member of this club’ or ‘ was a really good athlete/player’ does not necessarily make that person the best person to manage the, say, the finances at that club.

So how do we develop a culture and structure at our community sports clubs which makes it exciting, inspiring and easier to be involved with the leadership and management of them?

Here are some of our suggestions:

1. Yes, you do need a Board to be in charge of the governance and the legal stuff. But you should probably not need more than five members of that board. And, encourage ‘outsiders’ to join (you don’t have to have been a good goalkeeper/bowler to the club Treasurer)
Minutes etc. should be circulated across the club and beyond at the least 48 hours after any meetings and when decisions are made. Transparency and engagement rules!

2. Then set up project groups which deal with specific issues. Some of these groups may focus on specific projects and will then be disbanded when the project has finished.
You may want to have each of the Committee members on these four more ‘permanent’ groups which should focus on
1. Run the club as an enterprise
2. More players/athletes at your club
3. Growing your community engagement
4. Facility development

3. Encourage your 15 -18-year olds to become ‘social media champions’ at your club

BK Skjold of Copenhagen engages more people through digital communication

This community football club has gone from near bankruptcy to now being one of the biggest community sports clubs in Denmark, with more than 1400 members

They were faced with declining engagement from members in the running of the club.

So, one month before this year’s AGM they started a digital communications campaign which ended all proposals and info on candidates/elections were sent to all members with a link to the vote.

Although these are early days they have already seen some real positive outcomes:
· 146 members voted – 10 times more than previously
· There were 10 candidates for four committee posts – never seen before
· The Treasurer role was filled with a qualified candidate for the first time
· 24 people attended the ‘off-line’ part of the AGM, twice as many as normal
· They received 15 points for discussion in connection with the digital voting.
They came from 9 members, with only one from a committee member

So, Jan Sørensen, the Chair of BK Skjold is pleased with this start of modernising the democratic process and is confident that this will be developed further in the coming years.

4. Ask yourself:

Why would a local ‘change-maker’ want to be engaged with growing your club?

5. Start a quiet revolution

6. From Club Committee of today to project group of the future

Club committee of today

FireBellies with heart

Gut feeling

Project group of the future

FireBellies with skills Strategy Change Competent Innovation Facts Tasks Values and frameworks

7. The Club Grower of the future

Specific skills
Something in it for them
Want other volunteers to be professional
Bite-size volunteering
One limited project
Want to feel they belong and are taken seriously
Want to have fun
Encourage them to speak their mind
Needs leadership and management

At SMN we have now developed a new workshop called Leadership and Management of Your Sports Club – Getting things done through people, and in January 2018 we will be launching its sister 48 page Guide. Packed with inspiring case-stories and easy-to-use templates and tools readers will have access to best practice from across community sport on how to develop the right leadership and management for their club.

Want to have a chat about taking sport out into your community, get in touch on
01423 326 660 or email