11 November, 2015

Bringing a Participation Strategy Together from A Strategic Plan

Bringing a Participation Strategy Together from A Strategic Plan

I am currently working with a couple of State Sporting Organisations to develop firstly their Strategic Plan and then their Participation Strategy. It has been an interesting process to date to change the organisational thinking from a ‘build it and they will come’ approach towards a ‘lets find out what the market needs and then build it so they do come’ approach.

The Strategic Plan is the guiding document and provides the context for the Participation Strategy. By having a clear Participation Strategy it allows for staff and volunteers to clearly understand the pathway for the development of athletes, alongside sport recreation and active lifestyle activities fits in whilst achieving excellence in the sport. It also allows the sport leadership to ensure resources are being directed to events and activities that fit with the strategy.

A clear strategic plan and participation strategy allows a more cohesive and targeted approach in engaging the community.

When I am developing these strategies I recognise the limited resources within the sports community, but also the immense opportunity that sport has to change people’s lives. I understand the latest research around sport participation habits and implement programs to bring about noticeable change in participation habits and opportunities in both sport and recreational pursuits.

The Role of Sport

Sport plays a key role within the recreation and fitness habits of our population. Research tells us though that due to competing demands on our leisure time that participation in club based, organised sport is declining. Through recreational activities, people are predominately looking for five key things:

  • To keep good friends and make new ones
  • For the activity to be fun, exciting and enjoyable
  • To be challenged and provided an opportunity to achieve
  • To be personally satisfied through a sound value proposition
  • To use and improve their skills and to achieve a health benefit

Sport has traditionally done this well, but we all know that sometimes club sport becomes a burden, it isn’t enjoyable and then people begin to question the value proposition – What’s in it for me?

The National Research

The Participation Strategies I am developing are closely linked to Australian Sports Commission research such as:

It is imperative that we understand the research as it discusses some large changes in the way people are playing sport and interacting with sporting clubs. If we don’t change the sport model, then we will go out of business as a club!

Firstly, the Australian Sports Commission research has found that there are six megatrends that will reshape the way Australian’s participate in sport over coming years. These megatrends are:

  • A perfect fit – the rise of gym membership
  • From extreme to mainstream - the rise of lifestyle and extreme sports
  • Everybody’s game – Australia’s ageing population and cultural diversity
  • More than Sport – social and economic benefits of participation in sport
  • New Wealth, New Talent – the rise of Asian’s sporting talent and wealth
  • Tracksuits to business suits – The corporatisation of sport and the rise of the cost of participation

Australian Sports Commission - The Future of Australian Sport

This means that the development of products and programs to the community need to be seen as offering a value proposition that fits the community need. The products need to be professionally delivered within a commercial context of sport delivery. A Participation Strategy needs to provide a whole of sport, lifelong participation strategy.

Additional research around consumer and market insights across sport, have found the following needs of the market:

  • Adult consumers are driven by fitness whilst children are motivated by fun and competition
  • The creation of a fun and social environment is important
  • There is an opportunity to engage non-club members through fitness based offerings
  • Body image and disinterest in competition are major barriers for adults, whilst children are distracted by interests in other sports
  • Work commitments and lack of time restrict engagement of adult participants

My aim with the Participation Strategy’s I am developing for my SSO clients are two-fold:

1. To have a whole of sport pathway that is relevant to the community in the changing sports environment. The pathway and programs provide the following

  • Has a social aspect
  • Fits within a time poor environment
  • Provide a challenge
  • Meet the physical activity goals of the individual

2. To provide products to market that are viable. The products must meet the following criteria:

  • Are flexible in delivery to meet the rapidly changing market needs
  • Can be delivered with a limited and flexible workforce
  • Provide sufficient income to enable the organisations to survive

A participation strategy that has detailed planning ensures that your sport, as a business, will meet the needs of your members as customers. Without a plan you are living on hope and hope doesn’t lead to success.

© 2019 Paul Mead