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