A golden opportunity beckons for sports clubs in southeast Queensland, but only those with suitable strategies and the right initiatives will reap the rewards offered by the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
That’s the view of academics at Griffith Business School researching the potential for a sports participation legacy in the aftermath of the April Games.
“It’s important that sports clubs don’t just wait for new members to come knocking on their doors on the back of the excitement and increased media coverage,” Dr Alana Thomson, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management, said.
“I would say be active and be proactive. Get out into the community and take ownership of what is an unprecedented opportunity for sports clubs in Queensland.”
Dr Thomson and Dr Millicent Kennelly, a senior lecturer at Griffith Business School, are using data from the 2014 Glasgow Games to build an understanding of how sports communities in Brisbane and the Gold Coast can take full advantage in terms of boosting membership and volunteer numbers.
They have counselled sports clubs against unrealistic expectations that local volunteers on duty at venues like Carrara Stadium and Anna Meares Velodrome will divert their volunteer energies to local clubs after the Games.
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“Research shows people who volunteer in local clubs are typically part of the local community, and their motivations are often quite different to those of major sport event volunteers,” Dr Thomson (left) said.
“If a club wants more volunteers the key now is to reach out and engage your local community.”
Furthermore, sports clubs should not confuse a waiting list of new names interested in getting involved with a genuine sustainable sports participation legacy, the researchers added.
“There is no point taking on 100 new members this year if it burns the committee out and none of the volunteers or coaches wants to come back next year,” Dr Thomson said. “A waiting list is actually a failure to cater for an increase in demand.”
Ensuring a club’s online presence is up-to-date and inviting for someone who has not tried its sport previously is a prominent strategy on a new checklist for clubs developed by the Griffith team.
Also high on the list is the need to communicate a message that the club is open for business, then delivering on this message by ensuring responses to inquiries during and after Games-time are prompt and effective.
“There will be a limited window of opportunity when clubs can translate inspiration into participation and at the grassroots level there needs to be a strategy in place,” Dr Kennelly (left) said.
“Take time to think about what you can do as a club to increase the chances of someone finding out about what you have to offer, and then providing such an appealing offer your new recruits don’t hesitate to sign up.
“There may also be ways your club can use the Games to host local activities in your community which will add to the profile of your club while celebrating the event.”