Community sport and Coronavirus – the way forward

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Community sport and coronavirus – the way forward

How do we respond now, prepare for life afterwards and how will society change because of the virus and how do we respond? 

The community sports sector across the world is facing unprecedented challenges due to the outbreak of the coronavirus and we all have to adapt and learn from each other. 

  • How do we respond now, with clubs, facilities and centres closing down and events and classes, matches and festivals being cancelled?
  • How do we prepare for life afterwards?  How do we get people back? How will people’s habits change and how can you respond?
  • What is our new ‘normal’ going to look like?

 At SMN we do not have the answers but we feel that it is important that we all share our thoughts and experiences from across the world. Copenhagen can learn from Sydney who can learn from Manchester, and basketball can learn from streetsports and so on.

We are linking up with experts and providers from across community sports so you will have access to best practice.

The format from this series is that you link on to SMN’s webinar page and we will start each webinar with a brief presentation and you will then have the opportunity of sharing ideas and experiences on how you are dealing with this issue.

In between the webinars we will be producing follow-up notes which we will be sharing.

We reckon each of the webinars will last 20 – 30 minutes and they will be recorded and made available on SMN’s website.

If you have particular points you want us to cover please let us know.

We look forward to hearing from you and, hopefully, you will want to join us.

PS. If you want to talk about booking SMN to run specific online support for your colleagues, clubs, providers and others, then please get in touch with me Svend Elkjaer  01423 326 660

                                                                     You can registrate and book directly below

You can now access this webinar on the SMN GoToWebinar channel

The sports club in 2030

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The sports club in 2030 – what will our clubs, leisure centres and other places for community sport and physical activity look and feel like in ten years time?


Are you willing and able to embrace change in order to survive and prosper?

​When we launched Sports Marketing Network 15 years ago my wife and I would sit in front of the telly and stuff envelopes with flyers and put stamps on them (remember stamps?). Some years I would sit in front of the telly and send out faxes, again to inform and promote.

Now we run webinars for people across the world, sitting in Yorkshire. We have more 10,000 contacts on LinkedIn and this newsletter is emailed to 8,000 people.
(I hesitate to wonder what would have happened to SMN if we were still stuffing envelopes!)

Yes, the world is changing and in many cases that bring new opportunities if we are willing and able to change ourselves, but not if we see change as the enemy and take forever to react to the new world.
Community sports clubs and centres are not immune to this situation and we who are involved with this sector simply have to embrace change and we could benefit from that change.

Over the next few weeks we will explore the various options for the next ten years for clubs and other places sport and physical activity.

Just look at what happened to

Woolworths and Blockbuster when they didn’t adapt

We feel that the eight areas of attention are:

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Go out there and listen, look and learn from new people and places

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Go out there and listen, look and learn from new people and places

Create communities and become your own disruptor (or someone else will)

Most of us tend to be in contact with ‘people like ourselves’ because we feel most comfortable that way.  If you look at the Linkedin profile of the average golf club manager the vast majority of their contacts are…other golf clubs managers.

More than half of football is played away from clubs, with very little involvement from the various FAs, run by commercial and social entrepreneurs.  Again, if you look at their LinkedIn profiles there is very little like contact between the ‘official’ football sector and ‘enterprising’ sector.

My work with SMN takes me all over the UK and Denmark and I meet and engage with people from diverse communities, skills and cultures. Trust me, I learn a lot from all of them (and hopefully, they learn a little from me).

Sometimes, sports bodies decide to engage with their stakeholders and they decide to run consultations where the senior people present their ideas to their clubs and others and then get some feedback.  The only problem with that approach is the vast majority of people who turn up to those meetings are the same people who always turn up. With the same ideas and opinions, as always.

The less engaged can not be bothered to spend/waste an evening of their lives and if they got an innovative idea they are more likely to set up something themselves than trying to go through the often risk-averse system. As a consequence, many initiatives in community sport and physical sport are set up by frustrated people, who want to make something happen, outside the system: Just look at initiatives such as GoodGym, ParkRun and OurPark

Another example is tag rugby in Ireland 

Tag rugby is a non-contact version of rugby, played by mixed-gender teams.  In Ireland, there are more than 11,000 players of this growing format, something that is certainly not the case for the traditional formats of the games. Also, notice on the poster the huge number of corporate teams.

What is intriguing is that there is no involvement from the ‘official’ Irish Rugby Football Union.

The same is the case with FootGolf and SpeedGolf and the various golfing bodies.  There are now around 200 footgolf courses just in England and growing (which is certainly not the case for conventional golf) and again there is very little engagement.

How to go out there and engage

First, read this story on how LEGO transformed by engaging actively with their customers

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Community Sports Volunteering Summit 2020

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Community Sports Volunteering Summit 2020


A one-day conference on managing, enabling and inspiring

the volunteer workforce in community sport


7th July, Moseley Rugby Club, Birmingham


Balancing the need for strong governance and compliance with the requirement to build a volunteer-friendly culture

With community sports reliant on the volunteer workforce, knowing how to effectively recruit, retain and manage volunteers is crucial to organisational and service resilience – particularly in the context of increasing financial, social and regulatory pressures.
So, why do many, if not all, community sports clubs report that they struggle to recruit and retain skilled and passionate volunteers? And at the same time it appears that very few clubs do have active programmes for volunteer leadership and management.
We also come across sports bodies who tend to almost over-burden their club volunteers with all sorts of admin, reporting and governance work – could we not be a bit more considerate when it comes to asking clubs and volunteers for stuff!

So, a key question is about how much focus we give to creating and sustaining great volunteer experiences and to help strengthen leadership and develop an open and enterprising culture across community sport.
This conference provides the opportunity for volunteer and workforce managers to spend some quality time on personal development, networking with colleagues and participating in a host of motivating masterclasses and discussions focused on volunteer recruitment, retention, training, support and management.

The conference will cover topics such as

  • Creating a more diverse volunteer workforce
  • How to research what volunteers want to gain from the experience and what they can offer to ensure an individual’s skills and personal contribution to an organisation are fully utilised
  • How to simplify the recruitment process for volunteering to act quickly on expressions of interest
  • Developing new skills through digital roles, including online recruitment and digital cataloguing of stock availability
  • Applying new solutions and ideas for supporting outstanding recruitment, retention and management of volunteers
  • Driving diversity and supporting improved approaches to inclusion and outreach
    updates on how voluntary organisations can enhance professional development for volunteer managers
  • How to understand what motivates volunteers and how to keep them interested in the 2020s
  • How to develop volunteer-friendly environments that fit in with people’s lives workforce manager
  • What are the specific challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining officials, referees and umpires
  • Improve the communication process between your organisation and volunteers/prospects
  • Not all volunteers are coaches – how to recruit people with leadership, marketing, financial and community experience to our sports clubs
  • How to motivate and inspire volunteers to welcome change and innovation
  • How to deal with volunteer burnout and mental health
  • Improving the internal communication on our community sports clubs to improve motivation and engagement

This conference is a must-attend for anyone working in community sport, and will help you to improve your recruitment processes, grow and develop your workforce, and maximise the impact of your volunteers.

Who should attend this conference:
Volunteering Managers, Workforce managers, Heads of Participation and anyone who works on a regular basis with volunteers working in governing bodies of sport, sports development departments, Active Partnerships and other organisations involved with community sport.

Book your place here

Want to learn more or get involved, then get in touch with Svend Elkjaer on 01423 326 660 or email him on