I was lucky enough to attend last year’s US Youth Soccer Workshop in Louisville, Kentucky, and even luckier to attend the workshop in Boston this February. It’s great to be able to meet peers from other State Associations and learn from industry experts on topics varying from policies & procedures to website design. Most importantly, it’s great to be able to share the resources gained from the national workshop with our local members.
My favorite education session was “Volunteer Recruitment and Retention,” presented by Dr. Sheranne Fairley, University of Massachusetts, and Dr. Christine Green, University of Texas. I’ve been to a few trainings in volunteer management but this is the first session I’ve been to that focused on the specific needs of youth sport organizations that recruit and utilize volunteers – not just normal nonprofit volunteers. Drs. Fairley and Green brought up one of the most important (and forgotten) aspects of volunteering with youth soccer organizations – it should be FUN! It’s not about creating a second job for someone, but creating an opportunity for someone to join your community, learn something about the game and youth, and to provide value to your organization.
One concept during the session particularly struck me: we should create volunteer pathways in our organization, similar to player or coaching pathways. I don’t know how many of us think of volunteer development in the same vein as player and coaching development, but when volunteers form the backbone of our structure, why wouldn’t we show volunteers what their options are within our organizations? After all, we market to coaches and players; why aren’t we marketing to our potential and current volunteers?
Don’t just take my word on how valuable the US Youth Soccer Workshop sessions were – visit the USYouthSoccer.org Workshop page to get access to all the presentations from this year’s event and many previous years’ presentations.