Tag Archives: Clubs

What we can learn from Icelandic Sport

22 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations, Technology

With a population of just 334,000, Iceland is the smallest nations, ever, to qualify for the Euros, and they did it twice. Icelandic women dominate European Crossfit, and the gymnastics team were European Champions in 2010 and 2012. The people may be tall with Viking strength, but their genetics have little to do with their sporting success. The men’s FIFA world ranking dropped from 131 in May 2016 to just 18 in 2018. The current players are products of 15 years of significant government investment in sport and health.

Government policy

In 1998, Iceland had one of the highest rates of substance abuse in Europe. Seven years later the country had one of the lowest rates. The government remedied this by enticing youths into sports. Financial support was given to low-income families so that children could afford organised sport. Incentives were issued to reward healthy lifestyles. The number of teenagers actively participating in sport rose from 23% to 42%. Today Iceland has the cleanest living teens in Europe. Despite the extra spending, Iceland is still one of the wealthiest nations per capita in the world.


The Icelandic government makes it a requirement for children to partake in at least three sports sessions at school per week. Not only does this promote a healthier lifestyle, but allows for kids to make long lasting friendships. These friendships help to keep children interested in team sports.

Inclusive community spirit

With facilities in every village, football is available to everyone. Not only that, but everybody is encouraged to play, regardless of their abilities. The best players progress to higher age groups and girls that are stronger, train with the boys until they are 16. Despite streaming the system, everyone receives the same standard of coaching. This inclusive attitude is key to avoiding the typical teen “drop-off,” which is so familiar in the UK.

World-class indoor facilities

Iceland is a country with harsh, long winters, with short days and frequent snowfall. During winter, nighttime lasts for up to 20 hours each day. The state has pumped money into indoor facilities for the last 15 years. Iceland has 30 full-size all-weather pitches, seven of which are indoor, and nearly 150 smaller artificial areas. The national football team’s coach described the dome pitches as “a revelation.” There is now an artificial pitch close to almost every school. Their success at the 2016 and 2017 Euros led to the players being nicknamed the “indoor kids.” Not only is there indoor football pitches, but indoor skate parks, badminton courts, and ping pong tables. There is a sports hall in virtually every village in the country.

Number of coaches

The country has over 800 UEFA-licensed coaches, which is an extraordinarily high number, considering its size. To compare, England has a population 15 times that of Iceland, yet the number of UEFA coaches is less than 1500. The coaches in the Nordic region have much more flexibility to alter their coaching methods to suit their students, whereas British coaches have to adhere to a national model. At the age of four, every child receives a UEFA-accredited coach who encourages them to partake in football, no matter what their sporting ability.

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Fundraising Events for Sports Clubs

2 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Marketing, Operations

With equipment to buy, operating costs, and kit fees, running a sports club can be financially draining. Unfortunately membership and activity fees often fall short of the club’s expenditure. Hosting your own events (sport themed or otherwise) can be the life ring that keeps you from drowning in debt. A clubhouse (or even a sports hall) lends itself to a number of evening events that can be held no matter the weather, whilst a sports pitch or court allows for novelty sport and large crowds. As well as hosting your own functions, encourage your supporters to organise a fundraising event of their own, such as bake sales; or they could participate in a marathon.

Sports Quiz Night…

Like a standard pub quiz but all of the questions are about sport. Keep the kids interested by including questions about your coaches and the club itself. This could be a weekly event, driving your members back into your clubhouse and upping your food and drink sales. With opportunities to socialise and new friendships made, member morale and activity levels will rise. If not a quiz night, why not host a bingo event or an annual raffle.

Novelty Match…

Think of ways to spice up the sport you already provide: three-legged football, left-handed tennis, Over 30’s versus Under 30’s, or staff against members. These are great fun, and encourage players of different ages and levels to mingle. Be sure to promote the fundraising date via your social media channels and in your club.

Tournament and Barbecue…

No matter what sport you specialise in, this is a fantastic fundraising event. Organise a round robin style tournament, and keep each match short and sweet. A barbecue is the perfect way to round off the day, and you can get an instructor or a keen parent to manage the grill. This type of event is restricted to warmer months but could potentially be a weekly event during summer. Have extra games on the sidelines for young kids and relatives, such as rounders, limbo, and dodgeball. Not only will you get money from people taking part, but this is an opportunity for sponsors to get involved. They could host their own stand, present banners to be placed around the site, or supply drinks and snacks for the day.

Draw on national events…

Host your own mini world cup, with players or teams representing different countries. These matches can be played over one day or following the timeline of the actual world cup. A good idea is to have the matches in the morning of real games so, come airing time, players “relive” the match they played earlier. As well as the matches themselves, include activities such as Penalty Shootout or a keepy-uppy contest. Organise a World Cup Sweepstake, where friends and relatives can place bets on their favourite country (real or mini) to win.

Children’s Disco…

After a tough tournament or training season, kids need to let off some steam too. This may not reel in the same cash as an alcohol fuelled night, but at least there is no need for a wet licence. Sweets, snacks, and fizzy drinks will be bought at an alarming yet lucrative rate and who are you to be concerned with their teeth? This is a cheap night to host, as anyone can jump on the decks with a Spotify playlist. All that is needed is a speaker, sugar supplies, and some disco lighting.

Your own matches…

So you’ve already drawn a crowd, now take advantage. Sell team merchandise: supporter jerseys, hats, and flags. Parents who stand in the cold on match days deserve a drink. Offer hot beverages in winter; cool drinks and ice-pops in summer. Give them the first class treatment and wash their cars whilst they sip on hot chocolate. Parents will look forward to match days and you will benefit from the pocket money.

Bag packing…

Not only is this a fruitful money earner but you will also be spreading awareness about your club. Get an entire team down to the local supermarket to spend a day packing bags. They should wear their jerseys, chat to customers about the club and encourage people to join. If you have any events coming up (such as fundraising efforts listed above), make sure that your team are informing people about them. Perhaps you can print off leaflets for customers to take home with their shopping.

Fundraising doesn’t have to be a torturous task. Get your members involved and your event will be the highlight of your calendar.

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©Derek Gavey

Tennis Clubs: How to Survive Winter

6 April 2018 openplay Leave a comment Operations

There is a reason that Wimbledon occurs during summer and the Australian Open headlines our January. The cold and the wet drive people away and a club must hope that they return for the spring season. Despite the lower footfall, court surfaces suffer more in winter than summer, due to festering rain, mud, and ice. Here are some tips to help you survive the cold…

Maintain your courts

With unpredictable weather but guaranteed damp, it is important to clean the courts at least once a month. Remove debris and dirt to avoid the surface becoming rough and damaged. Puddles can cause severe damage in freezing temperatures, as the water expands to ice, causing holes. Artificial grass courts are not that common anymore but they are ideal for winter, as they promote drainage. Hard asphalt courts are troopers in cold climates, although they do have a longer drying time than Har-Tru or Clay Tech.

A bubble/ dome roof

More and more tennis clubs are erecting poly air domes over their courts for the winter months. The dome can be assembled and disassembled within a few hours. It is created by blowing air under a particular material that is fixed around the court. This is done by a fan unit which may double as a heating supplier. Bubbles require investment, costing around £55,000 for a single court. The materials are yours to keep, lasting six to eight years, and can be stored during the summer months. Replacement parts are significantly cheaper than the initial payout.

Indoor Courts

There needs to be greater investment in indoor facilities if we want to make winter training truly practical and financially beneficial. This may seem implausible, given that Wimbledon’s Centre Court only received a roof in 2009 and cost over £80 million. With an aim of doubling the number of indoor tennis courts over the next decade, The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) may be able to help. The LTA is spending £250 million on grassroots projects. For traditional indoor projects, an applicant needs to have 50% of the project cost. The funding is allocated on a 50:50 loan to grant ratio. The LTA also offering ongoing support once a project is completed. Preference is given to projects that deliver much needed facilities to a local community.

Morning training

Many people put off training until the evening, only to abandon the idea when the weather takes a turn. Capitalise on the crisp, morning air- advertise sessions as “Wake-me-ups”. Being cold is less depressing if you know that you can have a hot shower afterwards and will feel ready to carpe diem. Send reminders the night before each class asking people to commit to training so you are sure enough people will attend.


cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Mat Fascione – geograph.org.uk/p/4935260

A dark court is an unplayable court. With night falling as early as 4pm in December, after school training and evening sessions are sacrificed if your courts are not lit. Floodlights are expensive to run, so many clubs operate them via a token system. Players buy tokens and insert them into the light slots, activating the lights for an hour.

Get people signed up to classes and leagues

Pay as you go leads to no-shows in winter. One look outside to the cold, damp air and people will roll over in their beds. Try reducing the price of your term offer and hook people in for the long haul.

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