A Case Study: The Evolution Of The Sporting Club Environment. How Investing In People Will Become The Future Of Community Sporting Hubs.Sep 26, 2022
Sports clubs have traditionally been a place where you go to play sport, socialise or have a few drinks on the weekend. While these opportunities still exist, Lockleys Football Club is helping to shape new opportunities for sporting clubs and their members moving forward.
Lockleys FC has always been a club with a big community focus at its core, but over the last few years, they have begun to challenge the way in which sporting clubs have operated. Rather than just doing things “the way they’ve always been done”, this progressive club has consciously tried to innovate and do things differently.
With the big challenges that have occured in the world over the past few years, Lockleys FC found itself struggling to field enough players in a number of grades across their junior boys and girls teams. What we have observed is that more youth are joining the workforce at an earlier age, while still trying to keep up with their studies and play sports. With more commitment, comes increased stress. Something had to give and for a lot of them and the first thing to go was sport. What we noticed was that this was the case in particular with young females. But sport and exercise should be what helps us to reduce stress and be an outlet for us all. Lockleys FC decided that things needed to change, and not only to continue developing their players to become the best footballers they could be, but more importantly, help these kids to develop into the best people they could be.
So the question then became ‘How do you help these kids to become the best they can be, to encourage them to stay involved with the club for longer?’
This question led to an exploration of a variety of new initiatives which have been a huge success. Lockleys FC recruited the the expertise Adelaide Crows AFLW star Marijana Rajcic (MJ) as the Female Mentor for the LFCW program. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from having a player of MJ’s calibre mentoring the young girls playing at Lockleys FC and sharing her experience of playing at the highest level, was more confirmation of the value of investing in the people that make up the Lockleys FC Community. From the club management's perspective, it was critical to secure a female role model which the younger girls could aspire to and learn from. MJ spoke about mastering the fundamentals, the importance of team connection and what the expectations are if you want to play at the highest level. The impact MJ was able to have on the girls at Lockleys cannot be overstated.
The Demons Pathway Academy established for the 2021/22 season is another initiative that demonstrates the value of investing in people first. NEXA Sports Performance and The Adaptability Movement delivered this academy in partnership with Lockley FC with the goal to go beyond just improving the players physical capabilities to teach them adaptable tools that they could utilise to perform better in their relationships, study and overall wellbeing. With mental health being such an important priority in modern society, this feedback from participants of the academy was that it positively impacted their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Sessions were led by an experienced coaching team with extensive background in high level sport across AFL, SANFL, golf and athletics. Over the season, the players in the under 16 and under 17.5 girls and boys teams we exposed to a range of topics such as:
- AFL/AFLW style draft camp physical performance testing
- Running technique, speed & agility workshop
- Strength & conditioning
Mental / Emotional:
- Self Care
- Mental / physical recover methods
- Habit Building
“We were able to give our players access to resources, to activities, to insights that they might not necessarily get in a sporting environment.” - Kathryn Lee, Junior Co-ordinator at LFC.
The feedback from coaches, players and parents to this academy program was profound. The players spoke above being more present during games after the mindfulness session, as well as being more capable of coping with the stress of life. Parents spoke about the difference in their children's attitudes towards healthy eating and an improvement in helpful habits. This program has allowed these players to explore experiences, activities and learnings often only accessible to elite sporting teams. While not all of these players are going to become elite level athletes, there is still value in teaching them tools which they can take away and use in their education, careers, relationships or families and in pursuing sport at whatever level they choose.
Apart from these two major programs that Lockleys FC have delivered, they have also introduced other ways of keeping their young people involved at the club even after they no longer wish to keep playing football. This season they introduced an umpiring course to help generate more umpires within their community. Other pursuits included inviting former players to take on other roles in the club such as becoming a trainer, a coach or even working behind the bar.
Each of these innovative programs have been influential in attracting more people to the club, retaining the valued people already involved and elevating the standard across other sports and clubs. The key personnel at Lockleys have taken it upon themselves to drive the club forward and are doing a fantastic job of it. With plans to increase and improve these programs next year, as well as introduce other initiatives around developing a coaching academy, Lockleys FC is leading the way in becoming a community club of the future.
After the success of the Lockleys Demon Pathway Academy, many other clubs and schools have been proactive in starting their own Adaptable Academy through NEXA Sport and The Adaptability Movement. Your club can embark on this exciting journey too. Take the first step towards securing your club’s future by contacting us at www.nexasport.com or email [email protected] today!
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