Help our sports club make a real change
We must help our community sports clubs play a bigger role in their communities
the Community Sports Change Maker
Many traditional community sports clubs are struggling to attract players and volunteers and to generate the income required to provide a really great experience at their club.
Certainly, in many of our team sports such as football, rugby league and union and cricket many clubs are experiencing dwindling numbers. (We understand that the number of clubs entered into the National Village Cricket Cup has gone from 700 to 300 in a few years).
At the same time, we are seeing and are indeed working with, a number of community sports clubs across the UK who are growing, generating income, attracting volunteers and developing new partnerships. So what is the difference? What are these clubs doing to make this happen?
Simple answer: They are more than just sports clubs – they are a hub for their communities.
They play a part in people’s lives, they involve the whole family and community, they can be based in rural Scotland such as Galloway Cricket Club or inner city Leeds, such as Hunslet Club but they are all making a real change in the community around them. And that’s is why they are growing. They do not see sporting success as the be all and end all; if it happens fine, if not, fine anyway.
These clubs, we call them Community Sports Enterprises, have often been doing their great work in isolation with little support or inspiration. Many of them have attended one of our Grow Your Club workshops and some have spoken at our events or featured in our newsletters and on our website. But, they need a higher profile and more inspiration.
Some visionary governing bodies and other sports organisations have brought us in to help these thriving enterprises to grow and it’s been great to see the impact that has made (see below).
#MoreThan – the way forward
It is no coincidence that the club enterprise programme SMN are delivering for Cricket Scotland is called #MoreThanCricket, that the similar programme we are delivering for the Football Association of Wales Trust is called #MoreThanAClub and that the programme we delivered for England Golf was called #MoreThanGolf
I am sure you get my point.
Across the UK there is, at Government level, increasing focus on how sport can be a catalyst for change and social good. This is we are seeing programmes like Changing Lives through Sport and Physical Activity in Scotland and Healthy and Active Fund in Wales where clubs and community organisations are required to collaborate to deliver real benefits to their communities in order to access the funding.
(And I can guarantee you those clubs that get involved with these projects are the thriving ones, win/win).
Our community sports clubs can become Community Sports Change Makers which is an enterprise which changes people’s lives through sport, in a vibrant, visible and viable way.
The model illustrates how community sports clubs, by having the right vision and by being run as a vibrant, visible and viable enterprise they can also deliver real benefits in their communities These go hand in hand: “You can’t make changes to people’s lives if you are not a sustainable enterprise, because you won’t be around for long”.
So, if your club is a well-run enterprise you can be involved in improving health and wellbeing, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, create community cohesion and improve people’s health and well-being, to name a few.
You will also be able to develop partnerships with a wide range of community organisations which will bring new players, volunteers and income streams to your club.
An example is the number of cases where we are experiencing productive partnerships between community sports clubs and Housing Associations. The latter want happy, healthy tenants and that is something that welcoming and engaging sports club can deliver.
So, if you are ‘just sport’ I wish you the best of luck (because you will need it), but you are ‘more than sport’, well done.
Yes, these are challenging and exciting times for community sports clubs,
SMN will soon be launching a series of workshops and guides on How to become a Community Sports Change Maker. If you want to learn more about we can help your organisation or club, please do get in touch.