Need more players?
Advice on how you can recruit and retain players to help your club grow
Whether your club is just starting out or you have been going for years, recruiting and retaining enough players is always a challenge in grassroots football.
Even those who are most committed to playing can suffer from injuries or changes in circumstances that mean they can no longer take part. Whatever the reason if you lose players and don’t replace them your whole team could be at risk.
So how do you ensure you have enough players coming into your club to keep going even when times are tough? Here’s some top tips to help you find and keep new players:
Create the Right Environment
The first thing to remember is that most people play football for fun, so they will only want to join your club if they think it’s a good place to play. If someone looked from outside what would they see? Would they want to join?
Creating the right environment includes everything from how you organise and run sessions to how you present yourself in person and online. Your club’s values and standards should shine through in everything you do.
Clubs that are committed to offering the best possible experience for players are most likely to succeed. Becoming England Football Accredited and showing support for the Respect campaign are just some of the ways you can demonstrate this.
Be a Part of Your Community
The best football clubs are often a big part of their communities. With strong connections to a particular area they can be a focal point that brings people together and binds them to a common cause beyond just playing the game.
If you build connections with local charities, youth groups, projects and businesses they can then help spread the word about you amongst their employees, customers, members and clients, which could help you to bring in new players.
Youth clubs can look to create links with local schools where they may be able to advertise their club in the parent newsletter or even offer sessions to pupils.
Get the Word Out
With the internet and social media, these days you don’t need to be a big organisation to be able to reach a large number of people. If you have a good story to tell about what you club is then don’t be afraid to put it out there. Plus don't forget you can also promote yourselves with a story or advert in the local paper, or with flyers or posters in venues in your area that are willing to display them.
Keep your communications positive and respectful and people will hear about what you do and want to be part of it. Just remember that if you are a youth club you should focus your messages on parents and never contact children directly.
Players Recruit Players
There’s a saying in business that existing customers are the people most likely to know others who are like themselves, so why not use them to recruit new ones? This is why ‘refer a friend’ schemes are so popular and effective.
It’s the same with players and football. Whether at youth or adult clubs your current players are likely to have friends and family who might be interested in signing up, so make sure you ask them to spread the word.
This could be through some sort of incentive scheme, but it doesn’t have to be. People like sharing a good thing, so if your current players are happy and enjoying their football then they will be keen to encourage others to join them.
Give People a Taster
There are always lots of people who think they might want to play football but who wouldn’t just sign up for a whole season straight away. Offering an open day, taster or even regular casual sessions is a great way to get them involved.
You can promote these locally and get a few of your existing players along to help out and show what your club is all about. Keep it fun and friendly and they will likely come back for more and over time want to join your team on a regular basis.