Behind every successful sports club there is a great team working behind the scenes. The UK sports and recreation sector relies on a volunteer workforce of around 5.8 million people; those who help out as referees and coaches, clean the kit after matches, drive the minibuses to events, and deal with all the administration needed in a thriving sports club.
Running a club is a great way to indulge a passion, learn new skills, and often to spend time with your children. But it also involves a huge amount of hard work, so anyone considering getting involved must do so with their eyes wide open. Enthusiasm is vital, but it can easily drain away if things are badly run. In many ways, it’s similar to operating a business. You’ll need people who have at least a basic idea of bookkeeping; insurance; marketing (to promote matches, and attract new players); staff management, and HR issues such as conflict resolution and communication skills.
Here are some useful tips to help you run your club well.
Staying on top of administration is a huge task in itself and can be so time-consuming it turns into almost a full-time job for a volunteer. Communication with players and parents on a regular basis, informing them of upcoming events, times of games, training, fees which require paying – it all stacks up. To make life easier, use software such as that offered by Parent Mail, which should streamline all of this and ensure you operate efficiently. Don’t just leave the admin work to coaches. It becomes a distraction for them when they should be focused on training.
By forming a small, trusted team around you who can help with the key tasks, such as brainstorming fundraising ideas and organising transport or accommodation arrangements, you will relieve many of the most common headaches in running a club. Make sure that everyone is aware of, and takes ownership of, their roles and responsibilities, and motivate them well. Some clubs also designate people to sit on fundraising committees, which can be a good strategy if they have the requisite skills.
The best coaches will spot and nurture talent. Many of the world’s top sportspeople recognise that they might not be where they are today if they hadn’t had the right coach. So when you find good people, hold on to them! Try to make sure they have the right support network around them so the coach can concentrate on what he or she does best.
Any organisation that works with children needs to ensure that their safety is paramount at all times. There are various laws and guidelines in place, which you will need to abide by. The Football Association, for example, has a Charter Standard programme for clubs, which includes requirements for CRB checks for volunteers and a trained Welfare Officer.
Training isn’t just for the players. Keep an eye out for any opportunities to put your staff on courses where they can learn new skills such as in Health & Safety, or financial management.
Remember to have fun!
Running a sports club shouldn’t be all admin. If you start getting bogged down in paperwork or day-to-day problems, think about why you got into it in the first place, such as being able to shout encouragement from the touchline, and make time to do that every weekend. Don’t lose your enjoyment.