There are many communities that are in need of more sports clubs and physical activities for kids to participate in, and your community may be one. Especially since so many schools and school districts have taken physical education out of the school curriculum, encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle in our children today is more of a challenge. It’s easy to create these sorts of physical resources for children in your area. All that is required is a little planning, some enthusiastic volunteers and you can start something good.
Consider starting a soccer club for your community. With the popularity of soccer on the rise all around the world, it’s not a difficult sport to encourage or to find volunteers for. To get a good start on your planning, consider the Five W’s: Who, What, When, Where and Why.
Who: Who will you want to create a soccer club for? Consider starting with young children and run a ‘Soccer Pups’ season to start, and then build up from there in the following years. Starting young is the easiest because the children are just excited and eager to participate, their parents want them to just have fun, and the competitive, athletic drive that naturally develops in children when they’re playing sports as older kids hasn’t kicked in yet. While your club is in its growing stages and you have logistics to work out from season to season, young children and their families are more understanding because they don’t have the emotional involvement of competition involved like older children do. On the other hand, starting with older children, say high-school age and older, can attract players who are more excited and invigorated about being on your teams, and can help you develop a regular, loyal group of participants that are more likely to come back season after season. Their competitive drive will contribute to them returning for that next season which can also benefit you.
What: Do you want to provide a competitive environment with assigned teams, designated coaches and regular practice and game days for your players? Or are you more interested in non-competitive practice that develops into a kind of soccer community where players rotate coaches and practice with different players each week? Traditionally soccer leagues are of the pre-assigned-stay-with-the-same-group sort that we all grew up with. You have the same coaches, same teammates, same team jersey every week and you meet up on the weekend game days to play other teams like yours. A growing trend, however, is the non-competitive league. It tends to be more successful with younger children. This type of club has children assigned to a temporary group each week with 5 – 7 players in a group who practice together one day and then scrimmage 3 on 3 against another group on another day. The next week, all the children are shuffled into new groups with new teammates and they practice/scrimmage all over again. Look at the demographic you want to serve with your new soccer club and think about the style of club you think would best serve them. Consider if your league will be the kind to hand out trophies at the end of the season to every regular participant or if you’ll just be giving trophies to the team that wins it all.
When: Keeping in mind the school schedules in the area you will be recruiting in and plan accordingly. After school practices while the sun is still up will be most successful. Consider carefully if you want to schedule practices or games on weekend days, because these are days that families typically have together and they might not want to give up that time for an activity that only one member out of their family can participate in. However, weekend events can be the kind of event you are targeting because you want to bring out the whole family and create a community atmosphere. Be sure to be aware of the pros and cons of scheduling and be ready to change the timing of your planned schedule from season to season if you get feedback from your players or families about better ideas.
Where: Public parks, school fields, and private fields are all options for soccer clubs and you should be sure to explore all the local options in your area. Many are available free of charge if you just make arrangements with the right organization or person. Be sure to think about number of practice and game fields you can set up at a time, proximity to the area you’d like to pull participants from, and access to restrooms and water. Are the fields you’re interested in available during the time of day you’d like to run your sessions? Is the grass decent? Can you put down chalk lines to mark fields and practice space or are you going to need to invest in a serious amount of plastic cones to mark out everything you need?
Why: Perhaps most important is this question. Are you serious about starting a new athletic opportunity in your community or is this something that just seems fun right now? The answer to this question can be figured out after you examine why you want to get this started. Many existing soccer clubs were started by parents who wanted an outlet for their own children where one didn’t exist before, or they were unsatisfied with the opportunities that were around already. Are you trying to make money off this endeavor or is it a truly non-profit idea that will serve to just create an outlet for children in the community who need something positive and athletic to do? Be sure to be honest with yourself and really get at the root of why this idea seems so exciting to you.
After you begin to answer these Five W’s, the Big One H is the next step: How. Here is where you begin to put a plan in place, where you start making phone calls to schools and park administrators and t-shirt screen printing companies and trophy-making companies. The ‘How’ is where you make it happen and where you make your daydreams about a new soccer league in your community become a reality!