University Sport Club Conference 2017

The Secrets to Successful Sporting Clubs

This conference provided sport club committee members from the three South Australian Universities the opportunity to learn about what makes a successful University sporting club. Engaging guest speakers from the Sport and University industries shared their secrets and tips on the following areas:

Conference material

Session 1: What makes a good club great?
Presenter: Mike Daws, General Manager, AU Sport

Is it on field success? What about money? Great facilities? These elements do help but no, there is something that is more important that needs to come first and the rest will follow. He is the current General Manager at Adelaide University Sport but has been a full time sports administrator for over 30 years.

Mike has held senior positions at state and national level in sports development, marketing, facility development and event / team management in a number of sports including Tennis, Basketball, SANFL football, University Sport and at the Olympics in Atlanta, Sydney and Athens.

Mike provided an insight into leadership, which is a critical starting point for a successful club.  Without strong leadership, a club can become disorganised and unmanageable. Managing a club really is comes down to managing people. Mike talked about the characteristics as to what makes up a good leader:
  • Motivator – presence
  • Innovator – small or large
  • Supporter – at all levels
  • Communicator – oral, written, listener
  • Planner – long and short term
For leaders who have been the most inspiring, Mike highlighted inclusiveness as a key characteristic. Being inclusive, one associates someone who is:
  • Courageous – Challenges the status quo, cool under pressure
  • Curious – What’s going on, likes to hear opinions of others
  • Collaborative – Works well with others
  • Courteous – Pleasant, good sense of humour and most importantly,
  • Cognitive – aware of our own biases and those of others when helping to make decisions.
In other words, the five “C’s”.

He also asked, our industry leaders: Kylie Bloodworth, Southern Regional Manager, Australian University Sport, Damian Leonard, Club Development, Officer for Recreation and Sport, Scott Edgecombe, Recreation Projects Officer, Adelaide City Council; their thoughts on leadership.


Presentation slides
Recommended reading: Legacy: 15 Lessons in Leadership by James Kerr

Session 2: Club Planning – Thinking Long Term
Presenter: Sara Lane, Sport Development Officer, AU Sport

Many University Club Committees struggle to think long term (3 years) but if you can, it actually helps your club grow as well as reduces the demands on you as volunteers.

Sara Lane, who is the current Sports Development Officer at Adelaide University Sport and has over 6 years’ experience working in the University Sport sector, shared her own club experience with South Port Surf Life Saving Club in what can happen if no long term planning is considered and what is actually involved with going through the process of long term planning.

She highlighted the importance of clubs taking the time to define what they want to be, what they value, who they communicate to and what they actually want to achieve over a set period of time.

She touched on what needs to be documented and how. She also explained how going through the process will actually make it easier for club committees of the future, as having a ‘living strategic plan’ also assists with succession planning. Many of the following sessions of the conference reinforced the need for clubs to understand what they are trying to achieve and the message they are trying to say.


Presentation slides and notes
AUCC Experience Video
AU Sport Strategic Planning workbook

Templates available via AU Sport Blacks Clubhouse

Session 3: Promoting Your Club – Thinking Differently
Presenter: Phil Sandford, Brand and Content Manager, University of Adelaide

Phil is the Brand and Marketing Manager for the University of Adelaide – managing the University’s Seek Light brand campaign, as well as the strategic direction of the University’s marketing positioning and initiatives.

Graduating with a degree in Sports Management from Auckland University of Technology, Phil began his marketing career working in a Member Services role at Rowing Victoria and has spent the last 12 years in marketing roles across tourism, advertising, sport, media and health sectors in Australia and New Zealand, joining the University of Adelaide two years ago.
He said any club’s approach to marketing should be strategy-first, using audience insights, market opportunities and brand strategy to guide the promotional tactics and channels used. He shared with us the ‘Brand Promotion Framework’ and how it is important for clubs to understand who they are trying to talk to and what ‘voice’ they are using. It is also important that ‘voice’ be consistent with key messages for all communications.

Phil talked about the importance for clubs to understand what they stand for, as this will help them decide on what they will and want to do. Sara pointed out this would (and should) be defined in a club’s strategic plan.

He highlighted a couple of Tourism SA campaigns that he was involved with and the ‘voice’ those campaigns used. For example, he shared with us the thinking behind the Kangaroo Island campaign. He said it was a place that was rugged, adventurous, raw, natural and rewarding. They then thought who had these same qualities and who did they want ‘sell’ that campaign. The answer was Ewan McGregor – not from Moulin Rouge but from the Long Way Round. The match was perfect.

He then went on to talk about putting plans into action.


Brand Promotional Framework

Session 4: Club Funds – Getting Your Financials Right
Presenter: Tim White, Club Management Consultant, ORS Community Presenter

Tim has been a Senior Executive at the General Manager level for over 40 years within Banking, Finance, Wealth Management & Accounting and participated as a Director in various companies for over 25 years. He is currently Deputy Chairperson at Alzheimer’s’ Association South Australia and a non-executive director with the Rosemary Foundation.
Tim provides Consultancy services across a broad spectrum of clubs and associations as well as being used as a community presenter for the Office of Recreation and Sport where he has assisted them with reviews of their template constitutions, written a Financial Management Guide for Clubs plus conducted new Treasurer workshops.

Tim talked about why it is extremely important to have good finical management practices at your club as it helps with:
  • Meeting club objectives which are set in the club’s strategic plan
  • It’s a requirement of the club’s constitution
  • It keeps the club solvent
The role of the club financial management is not just the responsibility of the treasurer of the club, but the FULL committee and the starting point is having a sound policy which outlines how the club will manage its finances and what controls will be in place.

The use of cash should be avoided, dual signatures on accounts and having the club financials presented at each committee meeting are a must. He went on to explain what basic documentation should be used and what they mean.
Throughout the presentation, he referred to the ‘Guide’ which is a resource that provides clubs with information what should be occurring in every club. This guide will be released soon once it is finalised by the Office for Recreation and Sport.


Policy Template

Session 5: Sharing Good Club Practices 
Presenter: Tyson Williams, Sports Officer, Flinders University
Tyson Williams, Sports Officer at FlindersOne Sport, has been involved in the University Sports sector for over 10 years as a player, volunteer and administrator.  He has served in senior positions in numerous clubs such as Football, Netball and Rugby League and has played club sport for nearly 20 years.
In his session and the last for the day, he facilitated an opportunity to discuss some key questions around how conference participants manage their clubs. He highlighted that University clubs are in a unique position as they have other University clubs, events, resources and assistance from their University Sport departments that they can readily access. Clubs committees just need to be proactive and seek out help.  


If you attended and would like to provide feedback on the Conference please complete the Feedback form here by April 28. Photos from the day can be accessed here. If you have any questions about how you can improve your club management practices please seek out your Club Development Offcer at your University Sports Department.