Grow your club in 2018 with these marketing, diversity, and leadership techniques.
The United Soccer Coaches Convention is called ‘The World’s Largest Annual Gathering of Soccer Coaches’ for a reason — over 10,000 attended this year’s event in Philadelphia, setting a new record.
The event may cater to coaches, but this year featured dozens of seminars to help administrators and board members grow their clubs.
Here are some ways to help your club grow:
Building a Marketing Plan for Your Club
Building a proper marketing plan for your club takes weeks, even months to brainstorm and execute, according to Glenn Gray, vice president of Buffalo.Agency, a digital marketing and PR agency with clients such as US Club Soccer, a prominent member of the U.S. Soccer Federation and the leading organization developing soccer clubs across America with 500,000 players and 75,000 coaches. He is also head coach of the 2001 boys team for Alexandria Soccer Association. Glenn is also head coach of the 2001 boys team for the Alexandria Soccer Association in Virginia.
He suggests two easy ways to tap your own community to help the busy club administrator with their marketing initiatives, especially on social media: look into interns at a local college and consider the expertise of your own players.
“Almost every college or university has a marketing department,” he said. “Every class has a student that wants to do a social media internship, especially in sports.”
As coach of 16- and 17-year-olds, Glenn also stays up to date on most of the trends with youth athletes. He’s not afraid to ask some of the players to help with their video skills, for example.
“There’s bound to be any number of players in your club that are tech and media savvy. You can easily get them to create, edit, or produce any content for you, and they’ll be able to add it to a portfolio for college.”
Glenn Gray sharing great info on creating a marketing plan for youth clubs in @UnitedCoaches session.
"Have you defined realistic goals for each initiative? How does it tie to your mission and vision?"
— Tommy Park (@tparked) January 20, 2018
Developing Diverse Leadership at All Levels
“If you look at the history of soccer and how the game is played, diversity is a part of the game,” said United Soccer Coaches Member Group Chair George Merette. “Whether you are fast, slow, middle, goalie, run a 4-4-2, 4-3-3, whatever. It’s a part of this game.”
Daouda Kante, Executive & Technical Director of Kansas Rush, and Kendall Reyes, Chair of the USCC Black Soccer Coaches Community, share George’s mission to incorporate more diversity in the sport at the youth level not only in the player ranks, but also at the coach, staff, and board levels.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help,” Daouda suggest. “Go out to your community, to the schools, and get a fresh perspective on how community leaders can help.”
Kendall suggested hosting free organized activities in new communities. “There’s no better way to reach a new, diverse audience than to go directly to them,” he said.
George recommended a simple change at the administrative and coaching levels to make a club more welcoming.
“Bring in a Spanish-speaking person, or two,” he said. “There’s bound to be someone locally in college that is looking to do an internship. That’s a win for everyone.”
Leadership On and Off the Pitch
Chelsea Ladies FC Head Coach Emma Hayes and Major League Soccer Vice President of Social Media Amanda Vandervort made it clear that only staying inside your comfort zone is a recipe for failure.
Part of the problem is success. Emma’s Long Island Rough Riders dominated for several years. She seemingly had her formula. That same formula wasn’t successful when she took over the Chicago Red Stars. Quickly, she realized she had to change her previously successful habits and get uncomfortable.
“If it’s not broken, break it,” Emma declared. “Stay uncomfortable. Evolve and stay challenged to grow.”
The Red Stars improved and Emma took a position with Chelsea. She got uncomfortable again and was able to quickly change the Chelsea Ladies into a dominating force in the FA Women’s Super League.
“Leadership is not what you do, it’s a way of being. Anyone can be a leader,” said Amanda.
Start by questioning the way you’ve always ran practices or conducted operations. Get a fresh perspective from the outside, and break your system down.