Successful clubs depend upon effective administration, a strong and motivated volunteer and coaching workforce and clear plans for future development. Running Sports is an organisation created and funded by Sport England, to support sports clubs and their volunteers. They provide downloadable resources, including top tips, quick guides, case studies and best practice.
Writing a Sports Development Plan
A sports development plan is a clear and concise document that outlines a club's goals and how they will be achieved. Writing a sports development plan can often help a club to focus its efforts and ensure that everyone is working together in striving towards the same goal and a shared vision. It can help ensure that resources are maximised, priorities identified and a duplication of work is avoided. It does not need to be a long and complex document, but essentially needs to answer three questions
1. Where are we now?
Before a club can move forward, it needs to determine a starting point in order to identify the progress the club will make. Identifying this starting point can help establishing exactly where the club would like to be in the future. The information a club could gather could include:
- The number and qualifications of coaches
- The number of volunteers, their skills and training needs
- Links with the County Sports Partnership, Local Authority Sports Development Officers, National Governing Body Officers local school and community groups.
- Facilities and equipment available
- Number of members and number of people who regularly attend sessions
- Reasons why some people decide not to maintain their participation
- Potential participants (number of people in the district)
- Strengths (and weaknesses) of the club
- Number of local schools and community groups in the area that play and provide the sport
- Other information could include marketing, competitive structures, finance etc.
2. Where do we want to be?
Having identified where the club is, it then needs to be decided where the club wants to go, a clear vision. The club needs to decide what it would like to offer its members in the future and what it would like to do better or differently.
3. How are we going to get there?
To start achieving the clubs vision and making it a reality the club needs to set specific aims, goals and tasks. It needs to be broken down into bite-sized objectives and placed in order of priority. It is also helpful to identify some short, medium and long term goals that the club can work towards to ensure everyone stays motivated. The objectives need to be SMART:
- Specific (specify what the club wants to achieve)
- Measurable (is the club able to measure whether it is meeting the objectives or not?)
- Achievable (are the objectives achievable and attainable?)
- Realistic (can the objectives realistically be achieved the objectives with the resources it has?)
- Timed (when does the club want to achieve the set objectives?)
Monitoring the progress
A sports development plan is a working document that needs to be annually reviewed. The plan can be used to raise the profile of a club, to inform the local sports networks of their intentions, as a publicity tool to help seek and secure funding and as a means of informing others of their plans and progress.
Reviewing the plan can help a club to keep moving forward and decide what direction to take next. A good plan will be flexible enough to accommodate changes and include new opportunities. Planning is an on going process that needs to continually reviewed through a rolling process of Plan, Do, Review.
Who can help?
When writing a sports development plan it is important it is not done in isolation. There are many agencies and organisations that are involved in sports development who can help, support and advise. Sport Hampshire & IOW, National Governing Bodies and most Local Authorities employ sports development officers who are responsible for providing and creating opportunities for everyone to participate in sport at their chosen level.
Sports Development Officer