Australia is on a mission to improve the nation’s participation in grassroots sports and recreational activities.
Grassroots sports funding in Oz is provided by the central government- in the form of Sport Australia. However, the actual structure of schemes and delivery of the vast majority of grants is made by individual state bodies.
If the idea of searching and applying for funding puts your head into a spin, take a look at our state by state guide for grassroots sports funding.
The requirements for each state body differ slightly but, in general, those who can apply are not-for-profit grassroots sports clubs, licenced sports clubs, sports clubs linked to schools or churches, and approved Active Kids providers that are not-for-profit.
The Victorian government wants to make sports more accessible to the community, particularly to women and people restricted by mobility.
VicHealth is a government-affiliated organisation hoping to get inactive Victorians taking part in community sport.
Victoria State’s sports funding focus shifts across the seasons and year. In the past, they have run programs for community sports infrastructure, sports clubs, country football and netball, emergency sporting and recreational equipment and shooting sports facilities. Many of the more recent programs aim to “Change our Game”, by providing opportunities for women and girls to progress at sports.
VicHealth has two primary focuses. The first aims to increase the number of women and girls in sports. The second assists clubs in providing new social or modified sports programs that target less active Victorians.
What is on offer?
Event assistance grants are given up to the value of $20,000. Activity programs are awarded a maximum of $100,000 and rewards of up to $250,000 are available for infrastructure projects. Community Sports organisations can also apply for low-interest rate loans for between $500,000 and $10 million.
Vic Health offers financial aid of up to $3,000- open to any Victorian club- or $10,000 for those that have over 200 members.
How to apply
Only local councils can submit applications directly to Sport and Recreation Victoria. Clubs and community organisations should discuss their project proposal with their local council who will provide further guidance.
NSW aims to increase regular and ongoing participation opportunities in sport and recreation. The body hopes to address barriers to participation and assist sports clubs in providing a quality service to their members.
The scheme supports sports development, community sports events, sports access and facility development.
What is on offer?
The minimum amount available for all project types is $250. For sports development, the maximum amount awarded is $2,000. Sports access schemes and community sports events can receive up to $5,000. For organisations looking to develop their facilities, they may receive up to $20,000.
WA has a comprehensive grassroots funding model. It supports facilities, individuals and clubs that hope to engage Western Australians.
Their target participation program funding scheme provides funds for organisations to promote participation and active engagement. The focus of this scheme changes each year, to target low participation groups.
What is on offer?
For facility upgrades, grants can be anything between $2,500 to $2,000,000. The amount awarded will not exceed one-third of the total estimated cost of the project.
Funding is also available for regional local governments and not-for-profit sport, recreation or community organisations.
How to apply
For more information, and to apply for funding, visit the official website.
To apply for Every Club funding, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
SA improves facilities, especially those that enable female participation. The body hopes to improve grow sports and activities in the region, improve services and address barriers to inclusion.
What is on offer?
The Active Club Program has two funding rounds each year, providing grants of up to $25,000 for facility upgrades. Program and equipment awards of up to $5,000 are also on offer.
Other community-focused programs run at intervals throughout the year.
How to apply
All SA sports and recreations grants are managed through Smarty Grants.
For more info, and to see the government’s other funding programs, visit the official website.
The Queensland government supports sports clubs and activity providers in providing quality sessions for as many members of the community as possible.
What is on offer?
The Footy Facilities Fund provides grants to improve the quality, access and condition of community <b>rugby league facilities</b> across Queensland. The scheme provides up to 50% of the project cost, while the applicant is responsible for the other half.
Get Going Clubs funds local and regional sport and active recreation organisations to improve the delivery of Queensland activities.
Get Playing Plus is designed specifically to support grassroots level sport and recreational activities. Funding of between $200,000 to $1,500,000 is available for new projects or major upgrades to existing places or spaces for sport and recreation.
The Tasmanian government provides funding to increase opportunities for Tasmanian citizens to participate in sports and recreational activities. This is part of their ongoing development of the state’s sporting sector.
What is on offer?
The Minor Grants Program offers funds of $500 to $10,000, for clubs, not-for-profits and local governments to provide sport and activities. Financial assistance covers equipment purchases and the development of facilities and playing surfaces.
The Major Grants Program is a bigger version of the minor program- supporting the same needs but on a larger scale. Grants of between $15,000 and $80,000 are supplied in the category.
Levelling the Playing Field Grant Program is aimed at female participation. The Tasmanian Government is investing $10 million over two years to upgrade sports facilities for women and girls. Grants of between $15,000 and $1 million will match dollar-for-dollar what is supplied by the facility owners.
How to apply
Each scheme opens for applications once per annum. The closing dates are staggered throughout the year. Applications are made via the official website.
Everybody loves the warm weather until it starts to wreak havoc on your sweat glands, ability to sleep and the smooth running of your business. With tough scorched earth and brittle grass, “drought pitches” are not accommodating places for sports.
Global warming means that 2018’s heatwave will not be the last. UK water restrictions were only placed on households, but the leisure industry could be the next sector to sacrifice H2O. Besides, reducing your usage during a drought is the neighbourly thing to do.
However, the grass doesn’t have to be greener on the other side- Here are some tips to maintain green grass in a drought.
Aerate your lawn
As the earth burns, its structure tightens, making it difficult for oxygen and moisture to reach the grassroots. Keeping the grass aerated could reduce water consumption by up to 50 per cent. Stomping football boots will help with aeration, but their studs will only reach so far below the surface. In addition, you’ll need to aerate the soil using a pitchfork, or special long spike boots.
Mow less often
Put the mower back in the shed and give your grass a little space. Cut your mowing frequency to just once per week, to avoid weakening the grass. Mow the grass on the higher end of the blade, so the grass is 3.5 to 4 inches. That way the soil will take longer to dry out.
Instead of throwing grass cuttings into the compost, distribute them back on your lawn. The mulch provides an extra source of organic nutrients that will slow down water evaporation.
Ever notice that your grass is a yellowish brown while your weeds flourish? Even when not in a drought, weeds kill drain the ground, leaving grass parched. The nuisance plants have longer roots to reach deeper parts of the soil, meaning they can survive in adverse conditions. Weed and de-moss regularly during droughts to stop them from stealing moisture from the grass.
If all else fails, a bucket of green paint might just do the trick.
Whether it’s the rising threat of global warming, the stress of sorting through mounting documents, or simply a fear of papercuts; in the age of digitisation, paper and printing products are edging towards extinction. People are discovering that printing is an unnecessary expense, with the average small business spending £14K per year, according to research by software developers Reckon. Paper and ink are just the tip of a melting iceberg; hidden beneath the surface are the costs of keeping traditional filing systems, employee time, and machine maintenance.
Switch from paper bookings to online bookings
Paper is fiddly to manage and far from secure. Storing your data through a booking system like OpenPlay means everything is in one place and nothing gets lost. More importantly, no private information can be misappropriated (GDPR alert!). Our venue management software caters to block bookings, recurring payments, voucher codes and lots more. There is no longer a need to scribble or score out mistakes. Quickly alter, cancel, or refund a reservation and issue automatic confirmations to the customer. Unlike manual paper methods, our CRM (customer relationship management) system records your client interactions, so all information is up-to-date, relevant, and personalised. Ditch the Filofax and paper spreadsheets; a quick glance at your OpenPlay dashboard tells you your facility’s usage rates, financial information, and demographic breakdown.
Digital registers not only reduce your printing needs, but they are kept up-to-date. Any last minute changes to registers are instantly registered in the system, meaning that instructors have an accurate register right up to the moment they begin their class. Bookings are coordinated with registers, so you can sign attendees can sign and out via the OpenPlay app, or instructors can sign them in via the coach app. You can also add notes, such as illnesses or allergies, to a client’s name, so your coaches and staff will be automatically updated.
Sometimes paper needs to be used. The polar bears will forgive you for the odd printout, but only if you print back to back and only if you recycle. Create a recycling hub behind reception and print out posters to remind employees and guests to recycle… or don’t actually. Scratch that last point.
Other ways you can help the environment…
If you sell plastic bottles of water, why not swap to reusable bottles and provide water fountains.
Switch from paper towels to hand towels or energy efficient hand dryers.
Perhaps instead of music for classes, you can have your coaches sing or beatbox in between instructions.
Ban wrapping paper from the company’s Secret Santa; it is never a surprise anyway.
Switch off air-conditioning/ heating. Tell clients this aids muscle recovery and hope they don’t know any better.
A popular environmental fitness trend straight from LA is to drain your swimming pool of water and hold mock swim classes instead. Students have found that imagining the resistance of the water means that they are not only working their muscles but also exercising their creative minds.
Most sports coaches enter the profession because they have a passion for the game they play. It is the smell of the grass, the feel of a ball, a glove, a racquet in their hands and the joy of passing on their enthusiasm to fresh faces. Despite this idealistic vision, many find themselves stuck inside beneath a mountain of forms, blurry-eyed from excel spreadsheets, ears ringing from relentless calls. Admin comes with the territory, but not to the extent that the majority of coaches find themselves. You can make just one simple change that eliminates up to 95% of your admin, improves the service you provide, and gets you back onto the pitch.
Switch to an online booking system
Face-to-face and telephone bookings are drawn out, expensive and much less efficient than online reservations. Someone needs to be “on call” or in the office to process bookings. Bookings not only need to be online, but they need to suit both desktop and mobile. At OpenPlay, we provide bespoke booking systems that not only increase your sales and revenue but also a detailed back-end management system featuring a host of time-saving features.
Keep track of payments
The OpenPlay system flags any unpaid invoices, so you can quickly send payment reminders. Customer fees will be processed through payment gateways such as Stripe. We integrate with world-renowned services, which are safe and secure. With less cash on site, the risk of accidental or intentional loss of funds is virtually eradicated. Online payments also sync immediately with your OpenPlay venue management system, so you no longer have to log transactions manually.
CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
OpenPlay’s CRM system keeps track of your interactions with clients. Each time you converse with a client, you can be confident that your information on them is up-to-date, relevant and tailored specifically to the individual. CRM adds a personal touch that clients love. It makes such a difference when you can recall your last phone call with them and immediately reference their previous queries. It lets customers know that you value them.
The OpenPlay Pocket mobile app
Even with all the technology in the world, you cannot escape admin entirely. With the OpenPlay Pocket mobile app, you can at least take this small bit of work out onto the pitch. Take payments directly through your OpenPlay Pocket mobile app. Manage your coaches and employees via the app and only grant them access to their classes. Each coach receives their own registers, so they can tick off attendees and instantly see any essential health conditions. An important safety feature OpenPlay has devised and implemented is the unique pickup code for children. When parents cannot collect their child, they digitally sign the coach’s app, granting access to another adult.
Members pay premium prices for peak-times, yet overcrowding often hampers their experience. For many people, psyching themselves up for the gym is a hurdle in itself. Once they have made it through the doors, the last thing they need is further blockades between them and their workout. All too much is the queue for a treadmill, the claustrophobia of a rammed group exercise class and a bruised back from doing sit-ups on a hard floor because there are no free mats. Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce overcrowding and keep your gym running smoothly and efficiently at these busy times.
Eliminate reception bookings
There is nothing worse than arriving at the gym only to find that the reception is blocked up with customers and all of the staff are either on the phone or clicking away at computers. Priority needs to be given to those seeking access, needing towels or who have a general query. Move your class bookings online with a bespoke system like OpenPlay and increase reception efficiency.
Anyone working 9-5 cannot avail of the luxury of off-peak workouts. However, for freelancers, stay-at-home parents, retirees, students, and children, a reduced price membership could be tempting. An off-peak membership restricts the user’s access to less popular hours, such as mid-morning and late afternoon. Make sure to introduce some off-peak classes, so these members can also benefit from the timetable. With any luck, some of your current members will opt for a quieter workout and new members will be able to join.
Digital sign-ups and registers
It is essential, first of all, that you have some form of a sign-up system for your group classes. People will lose faith in your venue if it is a constant lottery where they must turn up 30 minutes before the class to have any hope of making the cut. Encourage people to sign up online, so at least this booking race is digital. Now that you’ve asked people to sign up, you need to follow through on your system and implement registers. Most clubs print off class lists, which takes up the time of receptionists, adds to printing costs, and creates a general faff for everyone involved. The OpenPlay Pocket mobile app gives each instructor access to their classes so that they can check off students in the studio. No middleman is needed; registers automatically sync with bookings and cancellations, so they are up-to-date and digitally stored.
Enforce Time Limits
Many clubs ask their members to limit time spent on each machine (usually 45-60 minutes max per person), in an attempt to democratise the gym. Time limits are useful to a degree but even waiting 45 minutes for an exercise bike is a big ask. Ensure that PTs and instructors are on the gym floor offering workout advise to customers. They can show people the benefits of less popular equipment and encourage runners and elliptical trainers to increase sprint times, so they train in shorter, more intense bursts.
Efficient Access Control
The majority of fitness centres already use a version of access control; typically this is by way of a membership card. At OpenPlay, we integrate your booking statistics with your access control system. Alternatively, we have developed an access control app that fits seamlessly with your OpenPlay account. Instead of a card which can be forgotten or lost, a barcode system works straight from mobile and operates even in offline mode. This barcode system is particularly efficient for guests or external users who have a squash court booking. Their unique barcode can be programmed to allow them access through reception, the changing rooms and the squash court they have booked.
Already gyms around the world are shunning plastic, embracing reusables, and pedal-powering towards a sustainable future. When you reduce consumption and choose greener alternatives, both the planet and your pocket benefits. If you’re looking to jump on board the solar-powered train, we’ve compiled a list of ways to make your facilities eco-friendly.
Encourage customers to bring reusable bottles and upsell environmentally friendly products like those made from stainless steel or glass. Switch from plastic bottled water to Aquapaxwater: the wholly recyclable carton material. It’s paperboard, which is made from trees that are sustainably sourced from FSC Certified forests. When bought in bulk Aquapax cost £0.93 each. Visit aquapaxwater.com for more details and to place your orders!
Throw in the towel
A lot of facilities restrict customers to just one towel, assuring them “It’s for the planet,” when really it’s a way of keeping cleaning costs down. Whether your intentions are selfish or selfless, at least the environment is benefitting. Replace paper towels, used to wipe down machines, with small cloths and eco-friendly sprays.
Cut out paper
Ten years ago the advice was to print on double-sided paper. Today, printing is no longer necessary. With technology developing faster than you could print an A4 memo, it is time to digitalise your bookings and database. Too many organisations continue to rely on bulky ring binders to store invoices and a black book for bookings where data is scattered and far from secure. When you switch to a booking system, like OpenPlay, you cut out the majority of paper you use, and your information is secured safely in a central database.
Electricity needs energy in order to activate. Where can energy be found, if not in little humans trying to burn calories at the gym? SportsArt is a green fitness company that produces people-powered exercise bikes, ellipticals and treadmills. The machines work by capturing 74% of the energy created during workouts and feeding it back to the grid. The ‘VERDE’ is the only energy harvesting treadmill in the industry. Visit Go Sports Art for more details.
Many gyms kindly supply plastic bags for wet swimsuits and sweaty fitness gear. It would be difficult to do without these, as laptops become damp and bags start to smell. With the planet in mind, however, many clubs are choosing cotton bags over plastic. They are reusable, so customers need to remember to bring them to the club. However, once the system is in place people will add their cotton bag to the list of gym gear, lock, water bottle.
The war on plastic is alive and kicking. The minister for the environment just banned plastic straws; a minute step for man. It is time to take a giant leap for the planet. If our words still haven’t convinced you to create an eco-friendly gym, perhaps Sir David Attenborough can be of assistance…
Sports venues have it tough. Peak times can be severely overcrowded, with double booked courts and a waitlist for classes. On the flipside, a sports centre at 11 am on a Tuesday can resemble a ghost town (cue tumbleweed and Western music). It is during these off-peak times, that money is sucked up through the air vents, making the margin of profit less and less. We’ve compiled our top tips to help you make use of idle courts and pitches.
Market to those who stay at home
Weekday mornings tend to be quiet, as most people are either at school or work. However, stay-at-home mums or dads could benefit from ‘Parent and Child’ sessions or ‘Tennis Bootcamp’. Retirees may enjoy playing if they have somewhere to chat over coffee afterwards. Consider running low-impact sessions that incorporate elements of pilates or work on coordination, strength and balance.
Bubble arena in winter
The bubble option is pretty pricey, so you must ensure you have the demand for it. Each winter, more and more tennis clubs are erecting poly air domes over their courts. The dome can be assembled and disassembled within a matter of hours. Air circulates within the tent via a fan unit (which also doubles as a heater). Bubbles require investment, costing around £55,000 for a single court. Once purchased the materials are yours to store during the summer months. They last between six and eight years, with replacement parts available at discounted prices.
This concept is pretty straightforward but essential if you want to increase footfall during these off-peak times. Adjusting your price points is a delicate balancing act; you don’t want peak time players to become outraged at the difference in price, but the saving needs to be enough to entice people in. A 15 to 30% reduction is a good goalpost mark for you to experiment between. OpenPlay makes it simple to adjust your pricing for each session so that you can play around with different options. If you get it wrong, try a new pricing plan!
Promote your pitches on a platform
If you’re a small venue, or perhaps a school with a football pitch, you may not be the obvious choice when people are searching for facilities. Having your facility on OpenPlay expands your potential reach, making more people aware of your services; you might say it evens the playing field.
Get in touch with nearby schools and offer class coaching sessions or host their sports day at your venue. These can be one-off days or weekly events. If they are not keen on taking slots that occur during school hours, perhaps you can run an after-school club. Offer to collect the children from school and walk them to your venue. Parents will be delighted as it saves them making an extra journey.
A dark court is an unplayable court. With night falling as early as 4 pm in December, if you do not light up your courts or pitches, you sacrificing after-school training and evening sessions. 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 at a time.
Get bookings online
Gone are the days when people will inquire in person or by phone; everybody is online. Reservations need to be quick, portable, and 24/7. By using OpenPlay’s booking software, you can accommodate last-minute bookings as well.
Free for the public to use, parks are by no means cheap to run. Grass needs to be cut, pavements swept, and all facilities should be maintained and put through rigorous safety checks. Local councils fund the bulk of a park’s running costs but, with over-stretched government budgets, sometimes this just isn’t enough. We’ve come up with a few ideas to help you run a profitable park.
Sponsorship of space
Memorial benches and tree headstones are favourites amongst the dead community, but the living also have a lot to give to parks. Whilst no one wants to spoil green fields with advertisements, there are plenty of sponsorship opportunities to take advantage of. Sports facilities, in particular, are lucrative spots. Tennis nets and goal posts can advertise sportswear brands or energy drinks. A skatepark can feature graffiti style advertising. Keep sponsorship in line with the ethos of the park; promotional content should not detract from the vista of the space. Consider naming your park after a local business or corporation, as part of a sponsorship deal. A sponsorship title is a big decision, as, admittedly, it lacks a personal feel, but it prove to be of substantial financial benefit to your park.
Maximise facility rental
Nowadays, people don’t bother with visiting a venue in person to book; everything is online. If you have facilities that are underused, you need to reevaluate your booking system. OpenPlay provides bespoke booking systems specifically geared towards sports venues and activities. Stagger your price points for prime and non-prime time slots, to maximise usage potential. Don’t just rent to private individuals, but encourage coaches to hire out the space for coaching and activities.
Introduce photography permits for media outlets or wedding and lifestyle shoots. Anyone wanting to host a special event at your park, such as a sporting event or even a party, should request a permit. Apart from the added fees, these will generate, it helps you to keep track of any significant gatherings set to occur on your grounds.
Licensing from fitness instructors
Parks are perfect spots for personal trainers, who would otherwise have to pay premium prices for indoor facilities. Just because you’re a public space doesn’t mean that businesses should take advantage. You can also ensure that fitness operators at your park, hold appropriate qualifications and are fully insured and hold liability. The Royal Parks charge between £350 and £1100 plus 6% commision for fitness licences. This is a key step to take if you want a profitable park.
Host sporting events that encourage families down to the park. Inflatable obstacle courses, movie nights, a jazz band and picnic event- the opportunities are endless. Have your park ranger give nature lessons to children, where they can plant a flower.
A particular hub on the weekend, cafes can be a lifesaver for early rising parents freezing on the sidelines of a football pitch. You only need a small stall or hut to provide coffees, teas and ice-creams. Drinks and snacks go down a treat and have a huge markup.
We are excited to finally share with the world our brand new, shiny, interactive maps! Want to add a little glamour to your booking page? Our booking maps make the booking experience user-friendly and fun (even more fun than it already was). Dubai Sports World has already gone live with their interactive maps, and guess what… customers love them.
Google maps have changed our perception of our streets, parks, and cities. We can now tell how long it will take to walk to a venue, how big a park is, and access detailed information about the terrain. Online maps allow us to see the size and geography of nearly every building or space on earth (except for North Korea and parts of Stockton-on-Tees).
Now, at OpenPlay, we are integrating personalised maps of your venue, with your bespoke booking system. The interactive maps help new players determine the layout and quality of your facilities. Players can see if a pitch is surrounded by trees, which will provide shade from sun or wind. They will also learn if the facility is accessible or if there is space for spectators to watch. Don’t want to play on a middle court? Yeah, us neither. With a visual layout available as part of the booking process, customers can choose their favourite court or pitch.
Any facilities that are unavailable will show up in grey, so players can clearly see how busy the venue is. Clicking on an icon will bring customers straight through to the next section of the booking process. It’s that simple.
Every technical advancement that makes booking sports easier, is an advancement for sports participation. Our interactive maps are visually stimulating, making your facilities memorable and, alas, more bookable. These are the first of their kind, with potential to be advanced further. Who knows where they will lead us to in the future…
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.
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.