With Washington Youth Soccer celebrating Youth Soccer Month this August, we thought this would be a great opportunity to mirror each week’s theme in our posts at Set Plays. This week’s theme: soccer supports! We are talking about our Soccer community participating in and supporting our larger community.
Community programs not only help build important relationships and community awareness for your Club or Association, but they can help reach new players and build your volunteer base. By reaching out to other like-minded organizations such as schools, after-school programs, and community centers, you are connecting your Club or Association with resources central to the lives of kids and families. The more opportunities you have to reach youth, the greater opportunities youth have to be connected with your Club or Association.
According to the US Census Bureau 2010 report, the state of Washington ranks 10th in the nation as most diverse, 23% of our population currently is under the age of 19, 16.5% of our households speak a foreign language at home, and our youth population is projected to reach 2.1 million by 2030. This data highlights the importance of becoming more creative on how we expand our soccer community and build community relationships with groups outside of our traditional membership, and how we can use soccer to support the needs of our neighborhoods.
Building community programs is one way to connect our youth soccer Clubs and Associations to new players while connecting with community partners and our neighborhoods, leading to a better community for all and increased presence of your organization in the community.
Below are my top ten things to consider when creating community programs and building community relationships. Keep them in mind as you begin to grow your youth soccer community.
Top Ten Things to Consider in Developing Your Youth Soccer Community
- Understand your larger community. By knowing what groups are part of the community and the needs of your neighborhood, you can create a program that fits and is unique to your area.
- Connect with your larger community. Create materials that explain your organization, your qualifications, your goals and the details of your program in all target languages.
- Use your soccer community. Find what connections you may already have internally to help create and foster community partnerships.
- Be flexible. The more flexible you can be within your program, the more opportunities you will create. Creating a one-size fits all program will limit the ability of groups to participate.
- Know your audience. Some groups will have more understanding of the game, the benefits from playing, and your organization than others, so tailor your message accordingly.
- Be the local soccer expert. Use the materials on WashingtonYouthSoccer.org and the resources in your Club or Association to connect and support your community centers and groups.
- Keep it fun. When you create a program or host an event, keep it focused on fun and play to spark initial interest.
- Get approval. Before passing out Club or Association advertisements to community groups and their youth, make sure that the organization/business has agreed to the specific document.
- Build your relationships. Once you have established a relationship with a person or an organization in a community, spend time fostering and building the relationship. You never know what opportunities or information they may have in the future.
- Create a two-way relationship. Invite local groups to participate in your events as sponsors, participants, or as a community partner in addition to providing them programs and soccer educational opportunities.
Washington Youth Soccer is in the process of creating toolkits and building relationships to help expand access to our community programs through your Club or Association, so look for my next Set Plays post coming soon on the community programs Washington Youth Soccer supports.
For more information, comments or questions, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below or contact me at heather@WashingtonYouthSoccer.org.
Interested in the contests and promotions we are running for Youth Soccer Month? Check out the Youth Soccer Month Page here.