The fourth annual Sports Club Conference, hosted on the 18th of February at the University of South Australia’s Pridham Hall in conjunction with Adelaide University Sport and Flinders University Sport and Fitness, has again proven to be a highly successful and worthwhile experience for all involved.
Close to 100 participants across the three universities attended and discussions were focussed on the day’s theme of ‘Doing Sport Differently’. The theme was most appropriate for this year, given there is a strong body of research to suggest that the nature of sporting clubs, and what individuals expect from them, has changed significantly in recent years. All who attended gained valuable insight and suggestions of how to improve the operation of their clubs to meet to the evolving requirements of their members.
Participants were treated to a number of informative presentations- each analysing the day’s theme from a unique perspective- whilst also being involved in robust and productive discussions with fellow attendees. These interactions between club members proved an insightful experience for all involved and was one of the day’s many highlights.
The day’s first presentation focussed how to design pathways within a club to be appeal to a range of groups, including people who are currently not engaged with organised sport, with the ultimate goal of growing and diversifying club membership. Crucially, studies illustrate there is a high percentage of people who are not currently involved in an organised sporting club that have been in the past and/or would consider becoming involved in the future.
The question of how to appeal to individuals of this nature provided an excellent backdrop for in-depth discussions between groups, where social sport, flexible membership options and greater emphasis on off-field group events were just a few of the excellent suggestions shared.
Participants were then treated to a passionate and informative presentation from award winning UniSA concierge Milan Milli. Milan eloquently articulated the importance of treating everyone as a ‘VIP’, in order to make them feel valued and in turn, create a strong culture.
This information was supplemented with a discussion surrounding the difference between customers and members of a sporting club, and how to ensure those within a club feel integrated within the club community, and ultimately derive a sense of identity as a member.
Clearly, this practice is significantly easier when the people providing information on behalf of a sporting club are informed and welcoming of members. This was the focus of the conference’s penultimate session – ensuring the ‘deliverer’ of a club’s message does so in a well-informed manner appropriate to each individual circumstance.
This served as a timely reminder to clubs before O Week about the importance of presentation of their core message – and how this message changes depending upon who is receiving it. This generated discussion amongst club members as to how best maximise communication between the club and both current and prospective members.
The day concluded with an open conference, as members took their final chance to converse with their fellow attendees, and ideas were exchanged as to how best apply the many lessons taken from the day.
A huge thank you has to go to our partners for the day, UniSA Sport and Flinders University Sport and Fitness, and the many staff members from each body who worked tirelessly to ensure the event was a total success. Thanks also must go to the many conference attendees. The volume of AU Sport representation on the day was clearly evident and is a testament to the number of individuals within our community who strive to make their clubs as strong as possible. The lessons learnt stand clubs in great stead for growth and improvement in 2020 and beyond.