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Planning For The Future
Understanding Youth Involvement
Taking Action: 10 Steps to Engaging Youth in Club Decision-Making
Helpful Links and Resources
Section 1: Introduction to Succession Planning
Section 2: The Succession Planning Process
Section 3: Crucial Ingredients for Steps 1-5
Step 1. Stop and Think
Step 2. Identify Barriers to Participation for Young People
Step 3. Decide How Your Club will Involve Young People in Decision-Making
Step 4. Form Community Partnerships
Step 5. Recruit Young People
Step 6. Induct Young People in to your Club General Induction Information
Step 7. Effectively Communicate with Young People
Step 8. Invest in Young People
Step 9. Mentor your Young Volunteers
Step 10. Recognise Volunteers and Thank Them for Their Work
Step 1: Examine your club’s position
Step 2: Identify skills required to fill critical roles in your club
Step 3: Assess the skills gap in your club and identify potential successors
Step 4: Develop and prepare potential successors
Step 5: Evaluate your succession plan



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Section 1: Understanding Youth Involvement in Club Governance


Background to this Resource

In regional NSW and all over the State, sporting clubs are facing extinction because volunteers are often unwilling to take on the sometimes large work load of becoming the club’s President, Treasurer or Secretary. Often it’s a few key club members – mostly parents or grandparents of players – who are doing the job of many and trying to keep the club alive. This often leaves little time to plan for the future or build strategic processes into day-to-day activities.

This guide aims to encourage clubs to get young people involved in decision-making and planning in order to ensure the long-term survival of the club. Young people are often an untapped resource within the club. They have unique skills, fresh perspective and lots of energy. Now, more than ever, it’s vital that sports clubs engage these young people and invest in their development so that they can take on leadership positions and carry the club in to the future.

In this guide you will find simple templates, sample documents and handy hints to help you to get young people involved in club decision making. Whether it’s inviting a young person to be on a committee or an advisory group, involving them in planning a fundraising event or simply encouraging them to gain coaching or umpiring accreditation, this resource aims to encourage greater youth participation in your club and guide you through engaging and retaining young people in an effective way. To find the most relevant information for your club check out the Youth Engagement Guide Map and follow the links.

The information in this guide has been taken from existing literature on youth governance and youth participation and from primary research carried out by NSW Sport and Recreation. Four focus groups were facilitated with sports clubs and young people in the community of Armidale, NSW.  Surveys were also distributed throughout regional NSW to sports club committees, young people who currently volunteer in sports clubs and young people who do not volunteer.  More than 160 people living in regional NSW completed these surveys.

NSW Sport and Recreation would like to thank all those that assisted with this research.

What is youth participation?

When we talk about involving young people in club governance, we are talking about including them in the decision-making structures and processes of your club. This could mean inviting them to be on club boards and advisory groups or placing them in management positions. These roles will be more specifically outlined in Section 2, Step 3.

However, it’s more than just placing them on a board and ‘giving them a say’. It is about actually listening to what they say and valuing their contribution. It’s about taking their views in to consideration and being influenced by them when making a decision. Too often, we consult young people and then do nothing with the feedback they give. To encourage good participation from young people, they must be taken seriously.

What age group are we talking about?

Most people agree the term ‘youth’ refers to young people aged around 14 – 24 years old. This resource has been developed to help sports clubs engage young people in this age bracket. However, it’s important to note that this may also be useful for people slightly younger or older. It is also important to note that within the 14 – 24 years age bracket, the needs of young people will vary depending on life experience, skill levels and interest. 

Why involve young people?

There are a number of reasons your club should be involving young people in club governance roles. Many clubs, especially in rural communities, suffer from a lack of willing and capable volunteers. Often the same handful of people will be on the board for the rugby league club and the cricket club, or the same person will be the secretary of the athletics club and the coach of the netball team.

If these few people decide to move on, it leaves a huge gap in the club and the community and the club scrambles to find replacements. Often, much of the knowledge and skill leaves the club with the departing volunteer. By involving young people from early on, the club creates a depth of knowledge and skill so that there is someone ready to take up the reins when key volunteers move on.

There are other important reasons for engaging young people in club management. Research shows a growing need to find new ways of engaging young people with their communities and vice versa. Too often, young people are overlooked and their capabilities are underestimated or undervalued. Taking on leadership within community clubs will allow young people to take ownership of decisions that affect their lives.

Sport is a huge part of many young people’s lives and can help form their sense of identity. Empowering a young person to be a member of a committee or help plan a community event helps to build their capacity and strengthens their connection to community. It may also help them to find employment by introducing them to new skills and networks of adults.

Youth participation also relates to the effectiveness and the efficiency of the organisation. Most sport clubs are trying to meet the needs of young athletes. Who best to tell you what will work and what won’t when delivering a service to young people than young people themselves?

By consulting young people and responding to their ideas and feedback, clubs can often avoid costly misjudgements and successfully run a club, event or activity that young people actually respond well to. Also, by listening to the voice of young people you are consulting a more diverse group of community members and gaining access to new and fresh ideas. This process could raise the profile of the club among young community members and make it more appealing to other young people.

Why do clubs want to involve young people in decision making?

We surveyed over 40 clubs in Western NSW and asked them what they would be aiming to achieve by involving young people in decision-making. The five most common responses in order of frequency were:

  1. Keep the club alive in the long term/succession planning;
  2. Share skills and knowledge with young people;
  3. Get a better idea of young people’s needs/wants in order to deliver better/more relevant events and activities;
  4. Give young people opportunity to develop skills; and
  5. Gain fresh ideas and skills.

 


What are the benefits of involving young people in club governance?

The benefits of youth participation in club decision-making can be divided in to three categories: benefits for the individual, benefits for the club and benefits for the community. See the Ripple Effect Handout for an outline of these benefits. You may like to print this off and show other committee members this diagram. It may help to get them on board when you decide to ‘take action’.

Benefits of Volunteering

We surveyed 40 young people (aged between 12 – 25 years) who are currently volunteering with a local sports club in Western NSW and asked them what they see as the benefits of volunteering. Below are the five most commonly identified benefits in order of frequency:

  1. The chance to give back to the community;
  2. Meeting people and socialising with friends;
  3. Community recognition/personal gain;
  4. Learn and develop new skills; and
  5. Because it’s fun.