Growing your women & girls offer? Where to start and how to plan.

Written by Natalie Doyle

April 27, 2022

Two female football players competing for the ball near the goal

At Sport Sister we do a lot of work with clubs and it’s fantastic to see so many clubs are keen to expand their offer for women and girls – more teams, more sessions and lots of exciting plans.  But if you’ve decided you want to engage more women and girls in sport in your club, how do you know where to start, and how  can you plan for the future?  This is what we’re going to explore in this blog post.  There isn’t one set way to approach this, but let’s look at some possibilities.

Whatever your motivations for growing your provision, it’s important you take the time to plan out what the new offer looks like.  Here are some top tips:

  1. Map out your existing offer.  Look at what you currently offer – what age groups do you cover? What type of players does your existing offer appeal to, and who does it not appeal to? What days/times do your sessions currently take place? Then…
  2. Look at where the gaps are. This might be gaps in age groups, variety of offer, location, timings.  Where are the opportunities to expand? It might be the case that you have some existing teams but are looking to offer something different to appeal to a different group of people.  For example, you have competitive teams but are looking to provide a session for more casual, recreational players. Try to understand the motivations of these potential players – why do they want to play, what are they looking for in a session and can you plan your offer accordingly? In this example, it’s likely they’ll want something that doesn’t require too much commitment, it needs to be affordable and fit in with any other commitments they have.
  3. Prioritise. You can’t do everything at once and if you try to, you’re likely to fail. What is the priority? What is the biggest opportunity? Sometimes your plans are influenced by demand.  Maybe there are a group of siblings of current players that are requesting you set up a team for them, maybe you’ve noticed some mums have started kicking a ball around on the sidelines.  If this is the case then go with it! If you have a group of potential players then that will get you off to a great start.
  4. Get organised.  Once you’ve decided what your priority is, you need to get planning! Where will they play and when? Do you have all the kit, equipment, and volunteers you need to deliver this expanded offer? How are you going to promote the session to attract new players?
  5. Look for funding. Do you have funding available to cover the costs of this new session? If you’re looking for tips on funding then check out this episode of the Sport Sister Podcast. Sport Sister also provides development grants for clubs which might be able to support you. Get more information here.
  6. Deliver.  Focus your attention on this session as your starting point and make sure you give them all the support you can – finding volunteers to run the team, sorting out facility hire and kit, spreading the word about this new session.  Try everything to make this new team a success and give yourself solid foundations to grow from.

Once you feel this session is embedded into the club, then revisit your mapping and review your plans.  Some growth will happen organically as players move up through the age groups.  As they move up, don’t forget to backfill where they have come from.  If there is a successful pipeline into the club then you need to nurture that.  Always be open to new opportunities to expand, and look to what other clubs are doing for inspiration, but remember – don’t spread yourself too thinly and try to do too much at once.

Growing participation is really exciting and it is amazing to watch your club grow.  Enjoy it and good luck!

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