Whether you’re starting a new football team or trying to bolster the ranks of an existing one, an effective player recruitment strategy is essential. But for many clubs in British grassroots football, simply finding people who are interested in playing can be a huge challenge.
It doesn’t matter whether your team is flying high and winning trophies or languishing at the bottom of the league, freshening up your squad and improving it with enthusiasm and talent is crucial. While recruitment is tough these days, there are a few strategies you can employ to make it a little easier.
Plan an Open Day
The first thing you need to do is advertise your event. Create some posters and leaflets (something on a home computer should be fine), and place them in local shops, community centres, youth clubs, coffee shops, cafes and anywhere in the local community that is willing to display them. Also, approach local newspapers and websites, as they may be interested in running a news story on your event.
Your recruitment open day should be a celebration of football. You need to inspire people to get involved, whatever their talent or fitness level. Set up some friendly matches and some mini coaching sessions. Organise the event according to age groups, and keep things as casual and fun as possible. And to make things as easy as possible for everyone, create a sign-up zone, where players can register their interest in playing for your team.
Link up with a Local School
The FA runs a School Club Links Guide that connects local grassroots football clubs with local schools and colleges. Working together with PE teachers and football coaches in schools, you can set up a mutually beneficial exchange system that could result in a steady stream of young talent flowing into your club.
Reach Out via Social Media
The reach and power of social media is astonishing these days. Nominate someone within your club to set up and run all your social media accounts. Attract followers by connecting with existing players, parents and fans, as well as by taking part in online discussions. However, you or anyone at your club should never contact children directly through social media or any other form of online communication system. Also, keep things professional and grassroots football-related at all times.
Establish Links with Local Groups and Communities
By becoming a true part of your local community, your football club should ensure the players come to you, rather than the other way around. Connect with local charities, youth groups, community projects and businesses to forge reciprocal links. These organisations may spread the word about your club amongst their employees, customers, members and clients, and this could help you to recruit without too much effort.
Create a Professional Environment
If your club has a reputation for shoddy coaching, bullying and creating an environment of disrespect, you will struggle to recruit the players you need — even with a solid recruitment policy in place. It is vital that you show young players that they can grow and enjoy their football at your club. This starts by creating a safe, respectful and professional environment in which everyone’s contribution is recognised.
Create Relationships with Other Clubs in Your Area
By forging reciprocal relationships with other clubs in your area, you can achieve a number of things. Firstly, you can send your best players onto higher levels when they’ve earned it — which is good for both recruitment and retention. In addition, you might be able to take young players from other clubs’ waiting lists.
Use Your Players as Scouts
Don’t underestimate the recruitment resources you already have at your disposal in your club. All of your players will have friends and family who might be interested in signing up, so ask them to spread the word. At the end of your final training session every week, as the group if they have anyone who is interested in playing, and add the names to your next open day or trial event.
If you are organised and create a well-run club that is a real part of the community, player recruitment should never pose a problem.