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

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