Committees are the backbone of any local sporting club, and local clubs are often the backbone of their respective communities, so there is always a lot of expectation for things to go right - however this is often easier said than done. In this post we’ll take a look at some of the key challenges faced in sports club committees, and give some tips on how we think the time of volunteers at sports clubs can be maximised.
Here's what we'll cover in this post:
Effective decision making in committee meetings.
Committee meetings are only held on a consistent basis, whether it be weekly, fortnightly, monthly etc. This means that the most needs to be made out of the limited time available. While there are positions of power on every committee, usually a president being the highest role, everybody has their say and can bring anything to the table. While more suggestions give more insight into what to do and where to go next, decisions still need to be made. The only negative about having many ideas in the equation is that people often get stuck on which direction to go.
There are many ways to finalise a decision, with the most political way being by taking all suggestions thrown forward to a majority vote, where the idea with the most votes in their favour is the one that is implemented. Presidents generally aren't allowed to vote, however if 2 options are in the lead with an equal amount of votes, the president is allowed the deciding vote. This is arguably the most effective and fair method when it comes to decision making, as any other method involves one person, or a set of people taking power, which isn't what a committee and more importantly, a club is about. No one person is ever bigger than the club as an entirety.
Outlining club goals and working towards them.
Goals and expectations need to be laid out well before the season begins, giving everybody a chance to prepare and achieve what they set out to. While every club wants to compete for and win premierships, on field results are only one piece of a long, time enduring puzzle. Without the backroom volunteers giving up their time and ensuring everything is run according to plan, not just on a Saturday afternoon, no club is going to get far.
Both short and long term goals need to be established, as while short term results are nice and keep the players and members happy, long term survival is more important, especially in grassroots sport where participation numbers are lowering year after year, from both players and volunteers, which has been evident in the number of clubs that have either merged, or folded entirely in recent years.
Using the technological tools at your disposal.
With the power of the internet, there are many tools available to help local clubs run their activities, ranging from the planning of events to keeping tabs on all required payments (both needing to be paid and received).
Tools such as Asana and Slack allow committees and Volunteers to create groups and maintain constant communication outside of their scheduled meetings, ensuring that emergency meetings won't need to be called out of nowhere, and potentially having many ideas decided prior to committee meetings. While many volunteers are still “old-style”, all it takes is finding 1-2 people involved in the club that possess decent IT skills, to maintain the communication on these sites.
Our club management platform SportsBlock offers clubs a central location to manage everything they need online. We've built a platform that solves problems specific to football clubs - which means you don't need to rely on platform overload or stuck on spreadsheets. Check out our interactive committee presentation on club management to find out more about our platform.
Volunteer engagement drives (getting more volunteers interested).
Often, the hardest part in any local club is finding enough volunteers to fill every role, but with modern software such as SportsBlock, volunteer jobs are now easier than ever, which should motivate more people to pitch in and do just a little bit. Social Media sites such as Facebook and Instagram also need to be utilised, and advertisements can be put on the clubs official pages asking for volunteers. Current and previous members can also speak up and go into detail as to why volunteers are crucial in the survival of any club, now more than ever.
Roles also need filling every week in terms of umpires, runners, scorers etc. Making a rotation roster and including the parents of the junior participants, and local members for the senior games at the beginning of the season means that everybody has to pitch in, and it is usually only once or twice a season that you as a volunteer have to do a job. It also gives you enough time to find a replacement or swap a shift if you are unable to volunteer on your rostered day. Simple things like this are all that is needed for local clubs to be run smoothly, and is the most fair way of keeping everybody happy while all required jobs are being done.
Attendance at meetings & getting as many opinions and suggestions as possible.
While volunteering your time is one thing, attendance at committee meetings and club functions is where the biggest impact is made. Meetings are where ideas are suggested and implemented, and having your say can be the potential difference in the short and long term success of the club.
If a good number of volunteers jump on the committee, then many ideas are thrown around at meetings, with a great mixture of opinions and ways of doing things. If meetings are run the way that the first subheading of this write up says, then things should run very efficiently, while everybody has their fair say on the club they have taken time out of their lives to be heavily involved in.
Establishing and maintaining professionalism both on and off the field
While good results and high levels of success on the field are often looked at when judging a club, none of that can be achieved without having high levels of discipline in all aspects of how the club is run. As mentioned previously, on field success does not happen without the hard work put in behind the scenes. Discipline starts at the youth levels, which then translates into senior sport, so professionalism is a trait that as a club, you would want in your junior coaches and staff, and from your senior players as these are the people the juniors look up to.
Discipline needs to be set in the goals at the beginning of every season, and highlighting that unprofessionalism of any kind on and off the field will not be tolerated, and will be penalised. When discipline is bought up, you immediately think of violence on the field, but off field antics have a much larger impact on the social standards and reputation of a club e.g. Drug use among members, underage drinking at social club events etc. While no levels of unprofessionalism should be looked past with a blind eye, on field behaviour starts with the way things are run off the field, and how much is tolerated, and it is very rare to see a successful sports club make headlines for the wrong reasons.
Constant and consistent reviews - Always be on top of everything
Reviews can be undertaken to judge the performance of the club as a whole at any given stage of the season. Players may be recruited to the club and have a review during the season to dictate whether or not they are performing up to the expected standards, same with the coaching staff. If reviews are conducted every few weeks, there is clear communication between the players/coaches and the committee on what the expectations are performance wise for training and match day.
Reviews can also extend to the committee staff as they can determine whether or not the club is in the position they expected it to be in at that given stage of the season. Another positive about any review is that if something isn't working and has not been for the duration of the season, then ideas and suggestions can be made on what can be done to fix the problems that are occurring across the club as a whole.
Reviews are a must in any club as things do not always go according to plan, and having plans B and C in place dictates that the club has the capacity to fix anything, which is the benchmark of a successful club in any sport.
Work doesn't end when the season does - Get ahead of your competition!
Working for the next season is most important once the current Season has concluded, that way while your club is nearly ready to commence pre season, other clubs are still finding coaches and volunteers to fill roles. The key to any successful Business is setting the standard and staying ahead of your competitors, and local sports clubs are no different.
End of season reviews are a good way to dictate whether or not your club has had a successful season, and what can be done to improve going forward into the next season and beyond. Hold the club's AGM as soon as possible so the committee and all of its positions can be elected early and work can then be undertaken for the upcoming season with everyone doing their part.
If you're interested in finding out about SportsBlock and how we're changing the game for football clubs across Australia, you can email us at email@example.com.