Sports clubs/organisations and their members, volunteers and coaches are doing an amazing job at adapting to the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19). To help, Club Matters has put together some extra guidance on the different ways clubs and organisations can continue to communicate and stay in touch.

Why it’s Important to Keep Your Club Connected

Keeping in touch with your members, volunteers, coaches and parents., helping them feel like they are still ‘part of the club’ is particularly important right now. There are three different tiers to doing this, explained below. The level of communication and what is realistic will differ for each club, but your members will appreciate any efforts to engage with them. Read through the information below and then use our Next Steps section to put this into action.

Information Sharing

It’s really important to try and continue running your club/organisation wherever possible. This might mean holding virtual meetings, including AGMs, to make longer term decisions and plan for the future. Any information like this still needs to be shared with your membership, which is one way to continue engaging them. It will also reassure them that the club is working hard to get through this period. However, be upfront and honest about any challenges you are facing during this time. Don’t feel like you can only talk to them about the club though – why not look for other interesting news / content from your sport or area to keep people informed!

Encouraging Activity

Being active is a great way for people to support their  mental and physical wellbeing. You may be able to draw on the expertise and experience of your  coaches, volunteers and the committee  to share ways to carry on being active? Talk to your members  about the importance of staying active at home and consider different ways you can help participants keep up their skills.

Bringing People Together

Sports clubs and organisations provide a brilliant sense of community. If you can, why not capitalise on this by finding ways to bring people together from within their homes? If you can, encourage or even create opportunities for your members to engage with each other – not just to chat about your club or sport, but to catch up and take advantage of the social contact!

Ways to Keep Your Club Connected

Information Sharing
There are a number of ways you can look at sharing club information and announcements. These include:
• Sharing regular newsletters or email updates with your members.
• Setting up group chats or closed groups on social channels to share information with specific groups of people. For example, you could have a whole-club group, plus smaller groups for individual teams.
• Using the club’s main social channels.
For more information on the different social channels your club can use, and how to manage them, click here.

Encouraging Activity
There are a range of ways your club can encourage members to stay active, from directing them to Sport England’s #StayInWorkOut Join the Movement campaign to developing virtual training sessions they can take part in from the comfort of their home! Some clubs will find this easier than others, so explore some of the below ideas and adapt them based on what your organisation is capable of.
• Use social channels or internal communications (e.g. whole club email updates) to encourage people to get active. Also ask them to share details of what they’re doing to the whole club!
• Publicise any drills and skills or small workouts people can do from home on social channels. Why not ask your coaches to film themselves explaining a set of exercises and upload this to Youtube?
• Explore using a virtual meeting space, such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts or GoTo Meeting, where coaches or qualified volunteers can run activity sessions from their living room or garden! Members can follow along in real time, which will really help them feel connected. Alternatively, you can use something as simple as Whatsapp video chat or FaceTime.

Bringing People Together
Many of the above methods will help you to bring your members together during this time, from regularly updated Whatsapp group chats to virtual training sessions they can tune in to. Just make sure you build in the opportunity for social contact as much as possible – set challenges in group chats for members to do at home, encourage members to hold video chats with their teams or ask members to get in touch with people at the club who might be having a difficult time during isolation due to their personal circumstances.

Keeping in Contact with Parents
Don’t forget to keep lines of communication open with parents as well! You may have found ways to stay in touch with your members/participants, but make sure any important information is still making its way to parents. Encourage them to keep an eye on the social channels you’re sharing information through if possible, but also try to make sure you have up to date contact details and send out regular updates to parents. You might be able to set up a Whatsapp group or similar, or you can rely on update emails or newsletters. If you can, take some time to talk to parents at your club about what will work best for them. Also, if possible, encourage them to get involved in any virtual training or online workouts you can share alongside their children as a fun family activity!

Staying Connected with People Outside Your Club

It’s important that your club stays in touch with any other people or organisations that contribute to its running in any way – for example, sponsors, funders, staff or suppliers. Staying in touch now can help make sure they still feel like valued contributors and protect your long-term relationship with them. If you have the capability, you can also set up virtual meetings to discuss any existing projects, so progress can be made wherever possible during this period.

You can use a lot of the methods set out in the above section to engage with people outside your club. For example, why not use your social media channels to continue engaging with the organisations you work with? You can support their posts online, tag them in the club’s content and share updates with your audience on how you’re working together.

Don’t forget, everyone is in the same position at the moment, even if they aren’t your members. Encourage other people you work with to stay active as well – can you signpost them to the videos you’re sharing on YouTube or invite them to take part in virtual training if they’d like to?

Next Steps

Based on what your club is already doing, or is capable of doing, you might already be fulfilling one or more of the three levels. If not, consider where your club sits and use the below action list as inspiration to plan out your next steps for communicating and engaging across your organisation.

Action List
• Explore the different ways you can keep in touch with your members, volunteers and coaches and encourage or provide opportunities to be active. What can your club support, how might your coaches and volunteers be able to contribute and what would work for your members? Make sure you talk to your membership about what they want.
• If you don’t already have a committee member in charge of internal communications, nominate one or two people who can co-ordinate the different communications and engagement methods you’re going to use e.g. writing and sending update emails, arranging social media posts, planning workout clips for YouTube.
• Encourage your nominated ‘communications lead’ to develop a plan of what can be shared with members over the coming weeks, taking into account any ongoing discussions about the club’s running during this time, any scheduled virtual meetings and other relevant events or topics.
• Don’t forget, if your organisation isn’t able to produce videos or virtual sessions, you can direct people to the information from Sport England’s #StayInWorkOut campaign, which is showcasing different ways for people to stay active in and around their homes.
• Be prepared for teething problems – for some, the technology available is quite new and unfamiliar, so be open with your members etc. that things might not work perfectly straight away! If you have people at the club who are very comfortable with technology, why not ask them if they can provide extra support for those who are less familiar?