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Innovation in community sport –

a training and support programme

Community sports leaders must rethink the way they adapt and innovate


Webinars and a guide helping you to develop and deliver new ideas and initiatives

Innovation is alive and kicking in community sport – are you innovating?

Ever since some rugby players in the USA more than 100 years ago introduced the forward pass and thus set the foundation for what is now American Football we have seen regular innovations in sport and physical activity.  Some don’t really last, but most are ignored, or even ridiculed, by people within ‘The System’.

Often these developments and innovations are not developed by people at the top, but by some ‘silly’ people out there in the communities who then take their initial wacky idea and make it come to life.  But as you can see here the ‘people up there’ can indeed come up with great ideas, as is the case with England and Wales Cricket Board. (see below)

How the ECB got 101.000 5-11-year-olds to try cricket and got tens of thousands of new spectators to watch elite cricket

Cricket has often been seen as a somewhat conservative sport but over the last few years, amazing innovative programmes such as All Star aimed at 5-8-year-olds and the newer Dynamos programme aimed at 8-11-year-olds have an amazing impact on the number of kids trying cricket – this summer that number reached 101.000

The ECB also launched the shorter cricket version, The Hundred, this summer where women’s and men’s matches were played on the same days and the whole atmosphere was live and exciting – thus attracting thousands of new, young spectators.
But it is also worth noting that prior to the launch of The Hundred, there was considerable negative murmerings from the more diehard cricket supporters. No pain, no gain

So, how prepared are you for the way that people’s habits may have changed and what impact that could have on whether they are returning to your place/centre?

Many people have been running with their dogs, walking with neighbours, cycling for the first time, playing family football in the back garden or doing online fitness classes via Zoom, Peleton or Youtube.  How are you going to get those people to (re)join your club/centre?

Can a football club run a family football festival? Could a leisure centre organise social cycling starting and finishing at your car park? Could a rugby club organise a charity dog walk in aid of a doggy charity using their clubhouse as a base? Could canoeing, swimming and cycling organisations, say, learn from Parkrun and set up casual social sessions? Of course…

Social innovation is a concept that is gaining traction the world over. It focuses on solutions (products, services, models, markets, processes etc.) that simultaneously meet a social need (more effectively than existing solutions) and lead to new or improved capabilities and relationships and better use of assets and resources. In other words, social innovations are both good for society and enhance society’s capacity to act.

Within sport, whether using ice hockey in Northern Ireland to bring Catholic and Protestant communities together, Nagin Ravand, an Afghan football-mad refugee is getting other females from a multi-cultural community in Denmark to play football or Salaam Peace who runs a community engagement programme that uses sports and social education to bring people together from diverse backgrounds in East London, the innovation we are seeing in sport for change is extremely important for engaging and bringing communities together.

We must get more people active and play sport and become engaged within their community.  Post-pandemic we have seen many people change their habits, and we must develop ideas and initiatives that can really engage and activate people.

We are all creative, but sometimes we all need some inspiration and support…

The good news is that we are all creative, but sometimes people do get stuck and need a boost of energy to get their creativity and innovation focus back on track. And sometimes it’s that the job hasn’t been about being creative before and now it is a sure recipe for brain-freeze for people whose day to day job isn’t looked upon as creative.

The days of the ‘lone genius’ locked away in a room coming up with brilliant ideas are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

New research shows that teams of disparate people working together with a variety of points of view accelerate the creative process and make innovation more possible but of greater importance, more relevant to the whole company.

Through SMN’s creativity training the predictable, new possibilities will emerge, including the absurd, the inappropriate, even the dangerous.

However, out of a bit of irreverence and rule-breaking comes original and innovative thinking, even for those who absolutely are convinced they aren’t creative.

Your company may need to have various individuals or teams sharpen their creative capabilities to keep pace with your aspirations. Like so many organisations right now, you may be undergoing big changes and your people have to rise to the creative challenge to stay on top.

It may be that you simply need to have some additional innovative tools to spark creative thinking and get people outside those prescribed ‘boxes’ even if those boxes have proved excellent in the past.

Sports Marketing Network’s innovation in community sport programme can help you developing and delivering great, effective and efficient innovations and initiatives

Svend Elkjaer, the presenter
Svend Elkjaer is the founder and senior partner of Sports Marketing Network. Helping providers of community sport and physical activity to become more vibrant, visible and viable he has worked extensively with innovation and enterprise in community sport and physical activity across the world.
The Sports Marketing Network is a growing international community of like-minded people. People who want to develop and deliver more vibrant, visible and viable sport and physical activity initiatives, right there in, and for, their communities. People who want to learn from best practice, from ideas and thoughts from across the sector and beyond and who are looking for a one-stop source.

Two delivery options

Delivery option 1:

The open programme includes three 45-minute webinars supported by a 24-page guide.

The three webinars will be engaging and interactive:

Innovation in community sport 10 am BST 6th October
Identifying challenges and opportunities 

This webinar will cover the importance of listening to people’s lives and promoting curiosity and making people challenge their assumptions

It will also look at and give you tools for generating ideas and initiatives and we will also go through how to test and launch new initiatives


Innovation in community sport10 am BST 20th October
Adopting new skills for innovation while you also learn how to apply them in everyday work

 This webinar will cover how to look at digital technology to create innovative solutions and give you methods and tools for generating ideas.

We will also cover how to develop new formats for your sport and activities and deliver your sport and activities at new places.


 Innovation in community sport10 am GMT 3rd November

Failing, learning, adapting, improving and moving on – making innovation happen

 This webinar will cover how to work with different partners and providers to attract new participants

We will also give you thoughts, tools and to-dos on how to become an innovative club, centre or body and overcome reluctance to change

To participate in the webinars and to receive the guide is £35 per person and it is free for members of SMN’s premium service, Sports Enterprise Network


Delivery option 2:

The bespoke programme can be delivered on your premises or online and can be adapted to suit your exact needs. For an informal discussion about this option, please contact Svend Elkjaer on either 01423 326 660 or email him on svend@smnuk.com