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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Bridging the gaps

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Bridging the gaps

How policy-makers, grassroots-providers,sports bodies and health professionals could benefit from collaborating
 
Answer: Go on a DIET (see more below)

 Increasingly, we are experiencing two serious gaps that are affecting how we fund, develop and deliver community sport and physical activity.
One is the gap between our policy-makers/strategists and the people and bodies who deliver at the grassroots level. The other gap is the one between those who deliver community sport and the health sector.

Policy-makers and grassroots-providers need to engage

Often policy-makers/strategists are working in splendid isolation from the groups whose lives they are trying to improve and, and as consequence, produce strategies and policies which are less effective than they could be.  We experience many cases where policy-makers then run consultation processes to engage their stakeholders, but in most cases, it is ‘the same old’ who turn up at those consultations – this may explain why many of those policies are not getting the results that were expected. And, why we don’t learn and improve.

At the same time often grassroots providers, many of whom do a brilliant job often do not understand, or even bother trying to understand, how the strategists think and operate and therefore get left out when it comes to deciding on strategies and allocating funding.

It’s no good to say, ‘we are doing good work here, so give us some money’ and to be in constant campaigning mode and not be in a dialogue with the policy-makers.

Sport and health need to develop a better understanding

Often people involved with sport, whether as volunteers or staff, do so because they love their sport and are struggling to understand why the rest of society, and especially health, can’t appreciate the work they are doing and why it is so difficult to attract the funding they feel require.

We also experience coaches who feel that their quest for their under 11s  football team to win the league deserves free pitches, subsidies, etc. because ‘it is a good thing’. And no other questions should be asked.  There is a lot of focus on performance and pathway and not enough on participation, and the latter is exactly what the health people are focusing on.

You can almost say that community sport is having a ‘battle of the Ps’ as illustrated below;

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Asset transfers

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Asset transfers – a great way of developing community assets,  or a convenient way for local authorities to get rid of ramshackle facilities, or both?

Asset transfers of community buildings and sports facilities have taken place across the UK for a few years now. In many cases, they have gone well and a bunber of community groups and sports clubs now run their own facilities and can grow their impact in the community.

An example is Jesmond Swimming Pool in Newcastle which was one of the first sports facilities to be transferred to community ownership in 1992. Since then it has been an innovative award winning social enterprise.

Freed from the constraints of the bureaucracy of the local authority the management has developed an innovative and enterprising culture which is the envy of most other pool operators.

Jesmond Pool – a successful Community Asset Transfer

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If you would like to have a chat about Community Asset Transfer,  just get in touch. Svend Elkjaer svend@smnuk.com

Get going with these baby steps…you move forward, you learn, you succeed

Get going with these baby steps…you move forward, you learn, you succeed

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Many of the community sports that we have been so fortunate to meet, tell us how much they benefit from applying a ‘making it happen’ approach  They keep doing new things, learn from them, warts and all, improve, get the courage to try other new initiatives and gradually they improve their situation, on and off the pitch. Importantly, they are having fun…

Others tell us that they are still ‘talking about it’, that things are difficult these days, you can’t get volunteers, that football/rugby/hockey are stealing all their players, so what’s the point.

We find clubs of all shapes and sizes in both groups. However, we do come across more complacency in ‘once-great-clubs’ than in any groups. However, I am certainly pleased to see at least a couple of the big clubs, accepting the need for change.  They then have a change of personnel on their committee – they embark on the baby step route and move forward.

The problem is that the clubs within both groups are right. Until they accept the need for change the complacent clubs will be stuck, discussing and complaining, while Rome is burning.

The ‘making it happen clubs…well, they keep doing the baby steps!