Tag Archives: Grassroots

Government funding for grassroots sports organisations in Australia

21 October 2018 openplay Leave a comment Operations

Sport Australia has been criticised for many years for investing large sums in elite level athletics while leaving grassroots activities to decay into nothingness.

The myth peddled by many governments throughout the world is that Olympic gold medals inspire sporting uptake and, in turn, future elite success. But even Olympians must start somewhere. Participation starts from the ground up; and national health, not medals, should be the primary goal.

The governments sporting department has finally launched a grassroots funding model, in Sport 2030. On the grassroots side, the National Sport Plan aims to make Australia a more active nation, safeguard the integrity of sport and strengthen Australia’s sports industry.

It is important to note that the bulk of Sport Australia’s grassroots budget is divvied up between states. Each state body allocates funding to grassroots organisations within their catchment area. Check out our guide to individual state funding bodies.

Sport Australia

Australian Government’s leading sports and physical activity agency, Sport Australia small to medium scale projects of up to $500,000 for community sport.

Their main grants improve local, community sports infrastructure with the aim of increasing participation in sport and physical activity.

Supported projects include:

  • Playing surface upgrades
  • Building expansion/ upgrades, particularly female changing rooms.
  • External entry/ exit accessible amenities.
  • Sports lighting, such as safety lighting or solar panels.
  • Improvement to spectator areas.
  • Amenity uplift

Who is eligible?

  • A sporting organisation, eg. community sports club, registered sports association.
  • A local government entity.
  • A remote education institution
  • A not-for-profit

For more information and to apply, visit Smarty Grants.

The government’s grant programmes vary from year to year. In the past, they have supported organisations that promote female participation, sports clubs looking to expand, and sports and recreational facilities that have been damaged by natural disasters.

Australian Sports Foundation

Giving for Grassroots (G4G) is generously funded by passionate sports fans in Australia. The grants aim to foster social inclusion, healthier lifestyles and develop teamwork and leadership skills.

Applications open bi-annually, although closing dates vary from year to year. Each round of funding has a different focus. Previous examples include:

  • Sport4Everyone- For clubs and team increasing sports participation.
  • Balls4All- $1 million of sporting equipment donated to clubs, schools and organisations.
  • Active Adults- For organisations increasing participation for people aged 18 plus.
  • Junior Participation- $155,000 donated to 24 clubs providing sports to youths aged 16 and under.
  • Innovation- Grants to organisations increasing youth participation in sports through innovative means.

The best way to stay in the loop about the next round of funding is to sign up to G4G’s mailing list.

Tags: , , , , ,

Like this article? there’s more where that came from.

From Western Australia to New South Wales: Your state by state guide to grassroots sports funding

24 August 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

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.


Program objectives

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.

Project types
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.

For more info, visit the official website.

Apply for VicHealth support via their website.

New South Wales

Program objectives
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.

Project types
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.

How to apply
Visit the official website.

Western Australia

Project types
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: everyclub@dlgsc.wa.gov.au

Northern Territory

What is on offer?

The Grass Roots Development Program awards clubs and organisations up to $5,000, to aid participation in sports and active recreational activities.

For facility improvements and equipment replacement, NT state supply grants of up to $100,000. Your organisation must contribute 20% of the estimated cost of your project.

How to apply
The Grass Roots program is open all year round, with applications assessed each month.

Facility and equipment scheme application windows run from July to the end of September.

You can make an application through Grants Tracker.

For more information, visit the official website.

South Australia

Program objectives

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.


Program objectives

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.

How to apply

Applications are made through the Enquire application portal.

For more details, visit the official website.


Program objectives

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Like this article? there’s more where that came from.

Reducing Paper at Sports Centres

11 June 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations, Technology

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

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.

Read more: Eliminate single-use plastic at your gym

Implement Recycling Bins

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Like this article? there’s more where that came from.

The Financial Benefits of Running a 5-a-side League

29 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System, Marketing, Operations

Among adults, 5-a-side is the most popular version of football, because, compared to larger games, it is easier to organise. Everyone can find four friends (however skilled) to cobble together some sort of team. The rise of leagues and high-quality artificial pitches across the UK mean that 5-a-side’s popularity has snowballed. A 2015 Sport England Survey estimated that 1.5 million people play the game in the UK each week. 11-a-side used to be part and parcel of a football enthusiast’s Saturday morning, but it has suffered a devastating defeat against the smaller, nippier game. Powerleague, the UK’s leading mini-league provider, made a profit of 3.7 million pounds last year, proving that there is big money in the little game. Organising a 5-a-side league has its challenges, with plenty of competition out there; but if done right, you will be reaping financial rewards.

Weekday evenings sorted

Monday to Thursday evenings between six and ten will be your bread and butter. These times have the potential to be booked back to back, week on week. Provide a variety of start times as some people will come straight from work while others choose to eat dinner first. Be wary of the Friday night trap. The UK has a *cough* active drinking culture. Many leagues have flopped because players swapped toe shots for tequila shots. This is not to say that weekend leagues won’t have their draw; a Saturday morning can be a success, but it unlikely to be your prime money earner.

Sponsors are keen

If you look at Powerleague or Goals Soccer Centres, the two leading small-sided league providers, their pitches, website, bibs, and goalposts are plastered in sponsorship advertising. Their astroturf may be electric blue (thanks to Lucozade Sport), but they are all in perfect condition and the latest generation rubber crumb. You don’t have to paint your pitch pink anytime soon; sponsors may be able to supply your goalposts or help with your marketing campaign.

Suitable for all levels

For those who have never so much as grazed their knee on a football pitch, requesting to join an established team can be unnerving. That’s why 5-a-side leagues are the gateway into the addictive game. Although many people enter a league to keep fit and enjoy themselves, there is no doubt that the notion of winning is an enticing element. The tighter the match, the more adrenaline and excitement, so be sure to provide divisions for the tenderfoots, the dab hands, and everyone in between.

Space Saving

Larger Pitches can be divided in half or thirds for multiple games, giving you, the organiser, more buck for your bang. Having various games played at once can also create an intimate, sociable atmosphere that enhances the whole experience and keeps players coming back.

People sign up for the season

Most leagues run throughout the term time or seasonally. This means that your pitches are block booked for months at a time. One of the downfalls of this is that people’s enthusiasm may start to wane as the season draws to a close. It is your job as an organiser to keep energy levels up (maybe your sports drink sponsor can help you there). Referees should be on the ball during play to keep the game tight. Send text reminders the day before sessions, so players have no excuse to back out last minute.

Selling a package deal

When running a league at your premises, you are selling more than just a patch of grass; you are providing the whole game. So long as the experience is top notch and the players come away satisfied, people will be prepared to pay more than they would to rent a pitch. Of course, you must factor in referee costs and your fee for the organisation, but the numbers add up.

5-a-side is profitable; the success of it can be seen by the many triumphant leagues and by the plethora of high quality, artificial pitches that are sprouting up in almost every town in the UK.

Tags: , , ,

Like this article? there’s more where that came from.

Tech and Sports Venues: What tech will increase efficiency?

23 May 2018 openplay Leave a comment Operations, Technology

“Time is money”- So I’ll keep this brief.

Tasks that are performed by hand can be slow and filled with human error. Technology not only makes actions quicker, but can keep information regimentally categorised and constantly updated. In some cases, tech can reduce or even replace manual labour and will certainly increase efficiency. Let tech take care of tedious tasks, so you can put your energy and money into improving the customer’s experience.

Accounting Software

Let’s face it, unless you live and breathe Excel spreadsheets and number punching, doing your accounts is a pain. Xero, Sage, and QuickBooks are tools that will reduce both your paperwork and your time spent on a calculator. Their services are cloud-based, offering automatic invoice chasing and accounting from your mobile. They can be used by experts or novices and can work in tandem with an external accountant.

Online Booking System

OpenPlay provides bespoke booking systems that are specifically geared towards sports venues and activities. Our venue management software suits block bookings, recurring payments, voucher codes and more. Memberships can be managed via your dedicated members section, with integrated direct debits and invoicing. You can easily amend, cancel, or refund a booking and issue automatic confirmations to customers. Cash bookings will integrate with your OpenPlay account, enabling you to monitor your facility’s usage rates, financial information, and demographic breakdown. This leads to better scheduling and pricing plans which, in turn, results in maximised footfall and profit.

Internal Communication

Team meetings are not always possible, and emails are easily ignored. Slack offers a Watsapp style messaging service, that is designed for professional use. It streamlines communication within a company and allows for instant alerts, updates, and scheduling. The service is categorised by “channels” that you and your staff create. For instance you can create a “reception channel” that allows staff to swap shifts and keep on top of the rota. A “good reads channel” keeps your employees up to date with everything relevant to your business. With better in-house communication, goals are set quicker and employees remain on the ball.

Access Control

Gone are the days when people sign their name to enter your facilities. We have been using membership fobs and key cards to access facilities for many years now. But what about drop-in customers? Do they still have to sign a paper form? At OpenPlay we are developing an app that increases the flexibility of your access passes and decreases the queue at reception. The app automatically syncs with a customer’s OpenPlay booking, so access can be restricted to the day or even the hour of play. Not only can you adapt the time but also the area of the facility. For example someone who has booked a game of squash could get restricted access to the changing rooms and the specific court. We believe that the membership card is in its sunset years. It is only a matter of time before venues realise the potential of digital access.

Social Media Management

Buffer is a management tool for social media marketing. It links the various social platforms together in one neat hub. When trying to increase your online traffic, it is important that you post the right content at the right time. Buffer lets you schedule and queue posts days, weeks, even months in advance; helping you to increase efficiency. It realises that you may not want to post the same thing on Facebook as you do on LinkedIn, so you can tailor your posts to each platform. One of the best aspects, is that data recording is easily readable through your Buffer account. Track interactions and engagement on posts you have shared, so you can improve performance and greater understand your market.

Tags: , , ,

Like this article? there’s more where that came from.

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.

Tags: , , ,

Like this article? there’s more where that came from.

Best Apps For The 21st Century Sports Coach

12 March 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

Augmented reality, video sharing, mental motivation, and electronic coaching plans: these coaching apps innovate the way people train, coach, and boast to their friends. Technology and exercise are no longer on opposite teams, but working together to improve people’s play. There are tonnes of apps out there for sports coaches and players in football, tennis, rugby, and more. Here our round up of the best coaching apps…


MyKicks is a football coaching app. Features include real-time ball tracking, penalty training, and snapchat-like filters that can set your ball on fire! Have lots of mental goals but no physical ones? The app uses augmented reality to create three different sizes of goals. One of the app’s best features is that it voice control, meaning you don’t have to return to your phone each time: just shout “Ready” to activate the countdown timer.


DoSo works to match an athlete’s mental fitness with their physical fitness. The app hopes to diminish doubt, anger, fear of failure, and frustration, whilst boosting confidence, focus, and motivation. It is human instinct to react to situations, often over-thinking which creates distraction and stress. Brought by performance coach Stuart Singer, the app promotes the belief that an athlete needs to lead their thoughts and be in a constant state of response. It helps you discover how you react under performance stress and gives you the skills to improve your responses.


OpenPlay let’s you organise and edit your booking straight from you OpenPlay Pocket App. Organise your registers, message or email participants, and chase payments via your mobile. Parents can use the safe collection feature by digitally signing on their phone screen, to authorise an alternative adult to collect their child.

i-Drills Coaching App

i-Drills creates session plans for 20 different sports, including football, rugby, netball, Gaelic football and Australian rules. Coaches can use any of the 3800 templated drills or create, store, and share their own. The coaching app is user friendly and offers logical progression features to aid a coach’s long term goals for their team. It is best used on a tablet, as its touch requirements benefit from the bigger screen. It is used and trusted by 35000 coaches worldwide.

Pitchero Play

Pitchero Play is all about showing off. Clubs can record and stream videos in real time via the app to their own fans as well as the Pitchero website which has some 70,000 teams on the database. It claims to incentivise the younger generation, who often socialise online more than in person, by encouraging them to do both.

Tags: , ,

Like this article? there’s more where that came from.

Why Big Brands should help Grassroots Sports

17 February 2018 openplay Leave a comment Booking System

Whilst global brands may be household names, it is community activities and local venues that win the higher status in a family home. Big Brands have big money and big reach, while grassroots organisations tend to have little money and local support. Brands can and always will release high-end, high-budget adverts, but to establish a deep relationship with their core customers, they need to “give back” and engage with them at a local level.

When brands team up with grassroots clubs and invest money in community projects, they are viewed favourably; as generous and ethical. It is a personal result that no glossy billboard can produce. Grassroots marketing may entail sponsoring community events, refurbishing a venue, or running activities. When a big brand gets involved, they create a buzz, meaning participation in sport rises and everybody wins. Here are some of the most successful grassroots marketing campaigns…


This February half-term, Nike teamed up with OpenPlay to pay for the hire of pitches and courts booked by any child or teen. Nike are the ideal brand to promote sport participation, as a popular fitness name. This scheme aimed to get youths off the sofa and active during their holidays. In the past few years, Nike have put in immense effort to reach out and engage its customers, organising free fitness classes for women, and investing in local football clubs and coaching accreditation courses.


Known for its Big Macs and big waistbands, McDonald’s seems an unlikely candidate for health and exercise promotion. Undeterred, McD’s attempted to improve its health rating by launching the McSalad and the McApple Slices, but many health experts and human beings with brains were left unconvinced. So, McDonald’s dipped its toes into the fitness world by supporting local football. In the last 15 years they have given away 250,000 kits to grassroots clubs and trained 30,000 new coaches.


Coca-Cola has been involved with doorstep sports charity StreetGames since 2010. The aim of the scheme is to bring both sport and the Coca-Cola brand to the doorstep of youths across the UK. They target disadvantaged areas and give access to those who would have otherwise been excluded to sports. Their outreach has included organising work experience for teens at the 2012 Olympic Games, and funding large sports events and festivals.


In 2004, Barclays invested £30 million in creating sustainable sports facilities. This is the largest single investment of cash pumped into grassroots sport by any brand. They have created new, and renovated old football facilities around the UK, including installing 3G artificial pitches. The bank also sponsor the Premier League, but it is their involvement in grassroots football that has been favoured most highly by the media.

Barclays Premier League

Tags: ,

Like this article? there’s more where that came from.

Making Sport More Accessible To Women

15 January 2018 openplay Leave a comment Marketing

When it comes to encouraging women into sports, it starts at the very beginning- or rather, it doesn’t. From a very young age, boys are told to play outside, to get dirty, and to tackle, whilst girls are told they look pretty and they make pretty things. We could have a lifelong nature versus nurture debate about this, but the fact is that what we say and what we do affects children’s perceptions of themselves and their gender from a very young age. If a girl grows up with brothers she will be more likely to take an interest in a sport, in the same way, a boy surrounded by sisters will tend to be more sensitive. Female participation in sport is greatest in the youngest age group, but it is also where we see the largest gender gap. So, how do we make sports a societal norm for women and girls?

What stops women exercising?

Poor body image

This is a lot to do with what the media endorses as the ideal female body type. In your classes focus on physical achievements, such as beating your plank hold record, completing more squat jumps or sprinting faster than last time. Encourage them to track their progress and beat their last week’s selves. Too many times does a coach (females included) shout “encouragements” like ‘For a flatter stomach’, ‘Do you want to look good in a bikini?’ This is neither helpful nor relevant to most women’s lives. Zumba took off at the start of this decade because it was women encouraging women and not giving a damn about how they look.

Family, work, and social commitments

Exercise can seem like a selfish venture, as it is a time purely for ourselves. Women need to be convinced that it is essential, as opposed to self-indulgent and that it will benefit other areas of their lives. Focus on the energising effects of exercise. As for the social life? This is part of it! Well- this is only true if the coach and participants are fun to be around. The session doesn’t need to be laid back in order for it to be fun and sociable.

The fear of being bad or judged

This can be judgement from themselves, other participants, or the coaches. Women tend to gravitate towards sports for individuals such as yoga or aerobics. This is perhaps, in part, a fear of “letting the team down” in group activities. If the coach provides a warm welcoming atmosphere, then the attendees will follow suit. Label team-based activities as “beginner”, “general”, or “all-levels”.


It may seem trivial, but if there are no hairdryers many women will not be able to exercise before work or before going out. Make sure that you have clean showers, hairdryers and, if you’re feeling really generous, you could throw in some hair straighteners.

What gets women exercising?

Themselves and their friends

Women tend to be self-motivated, so highlighting the health benefits and the sense of achievement that exercise brings, will tempt them to join. Peer pressure also plays a big role. Get some flyers pinned in local coffee shops, handed around schoolyards, and advertise online. Once you get a few of women through the door (assuming they enjoy the session), they will encourage (or force) their friends to join.

Positive marketing

Bad marketing is everywhere (case and point above). If you only want supermodels to exercise at your club, then go ahead and use supermodels in your branding. If you’re looking for women, then use normal people that women can relate to and bodies they can achieve. Recent campaigns by Nike (Check out ‘Here I Am’) and This Girl Can are enticing, as they focus on a variety of bodies and on fitness rather than being skinny. Use positive words such as inspiring, passion, exciting, motivation, teamwork, and pride.

Appropriate timing

It is still the case that stay-at-home mums outnumber stay-at-home dads. As a result, weekday morning sessions are prime time. Make it as convenient as possible. Perhaps babies can be brought along or you can sort a deal out with a nearby creche. Then there are women that need to squeeze exercise in before or after work. In an ideal world you would cater to all of these women, but if this is not possible, evaluate the demographics of your neighbourhood and decide what time of class is most suitable.

Space to socialise

If the reward for an hour of sweating is coffee and a catch-up, then many more women will be in attendance. Amy loves the workout and Debra loves chatting to Amy. If you have a coffee shop on site or there is one nearby, then Amy and Deb can both get what they want in life.

Tags: , ,

Like this article? there’s more where that came from.