Youth Soccer Clubs: Best Practices For Getting the Most Out Of Team Volunteers
The success of a youth soccer club should depend upon great coaching and creating a positive player-centric environment but often simple mistakes in governance can plague an organization.
It is surprising, according to expert Ruth Nicholson, how often the issues that hold us back in the youth soccer club world can be solved with clear paths to proper governance.
Read Soccer News: RUTH NICHOLSON – THE TOP 5 MISTAKES YOUTH SOCCER CLUBS MAKE
Parents can be your strongest allies or your most significant obstacles.
Why not let parents be your allies? That is what Ruth Nicholson, an advocate for the game of soccer, wonders often. Why do some youth soccer clubs make things more difficult?
Nicholson’s area of specialization, after working with youth soccer organizations for over 25 years, is operations, administration, funding support, and governance. A clinician who has presented at more than 11 sessions at NSCAA Conventions/US Youth Soccer Workshops, Nicholson founded GO – Governance & Operations, a go-to expert resource for youth sports governance and operations. She is who gets the call when an organization or club is at an impasse with their board.
As a follow up to RUTH NICHOLSON ON AMERICAN YOUTH SOCCER – WHAT’S RIGHT AND WHAT’S WRONG, here is information on how to hold youth soccer team meetings that really work and solve problems – not create them.
Youth Soccer Clubs: Tips for Getting the Most Out of Team Volunteers
- Identify the most important administrative support roles needed for your team.
- This will differ by age group and the types of leagues and tournaments in which the team competes.
- Divide up the team management work into as many smaller jobs as there are players on your team.
- This offers the opportunity for every player family to contribute in some way to the administrative support of the team.
- Identify those volunteer positions that have regular contact with players or private player information, such as registration and medical release forms.
- Make sure that these volunteers go through and are authorized by your organization’s background check program.
“GO! is my one of my favorite resources for organizing my team off the field. I recently put into action the GO! idea to delegate more duties to parents to assist my team manager. I now have an equipment manager, community outreach manager, and fundraising manager. I have found the parents want to be involved more often than not, and it has created a more cohesive environment for my teams,” says Jessie Costello, a head coach at Blackhills FC in Olympia, Washington.
Youth Soccer Clubs: Constructive Engagement
The first team meeting of the new playing season is a great time to recruit team volunteers. Team volunteer positions generally fall into three types: team set-up, team operations, and game day support. Dividing the work spreads the responsibilities, creates a better sense of balance, and fosters shared support among parent volunteers.
The key is to identify who will be responsible for specific activities and how they will support and communicate with each other.
CAUTION: If a volunteer job requires more than an average of 10 hours a week, you are setting up a situation for volunteer burnout, turnover, and potential loss of valuable institutional memory.
Youth Soccer Clubs: Youth Soccer Team Set Up
The work of these volunteers is most demanding when teams are being formed. They are the ones that collect information needed to register players, arrange for uniforms, and other team set up jobs.
Examples of these jobs include:
- Team administrative manager
- Player registration
- Uniform Coordinator
- Team treasurer
Youth Soccer Clubs: Team Operations
These jobs tend to be the most time-consuming and ongoing for the duration of the team’s playing season or playing year. They are critical to the smooth administrative operation of the team on a weekly basis.
The need for the types of positions in this category depends both on the needs of the team and the expectations of the club or league within which the team operates.
Typical team operations jobs include:
- Communications and emails
- Schedule and calendar for team training, games, and other events
- Team website
- Social events and activities coordinator
- Travel coordinator for teams involved in tournaments requiring overnight travel
Youth Soccer Clubs: Gameday Support
These volunteer positions offer wonderful opportunities for those player families who attend every game.
These are the jobs that support the specific needs of team competitions. It is important for volunteers who take on these roles to understand that if they cannot attend a game, it is their responsibility to arrange for someone to step in and ensure that their role is covered in their absence.
Common game day jobs are:
- Gameday rosters and player cards
- Tent or canopy
- First aid kit
- Team photographer
- Score reporting
Ruth Nicholson is the founder of GO!, a resource and training platform offering youth sports organizations proven governance, leadership, and administrative tools. Since its launch in mid-2017, Ruth has fielded inquiries and worked with coaches, clubs, state associations, and leagues in 19 North American states and provinces, as well as others in Europe, South America, Australia, and Africa. She is also the co-creator of the 2019 GO! Chase Excellence Think Tank to Improve Youth Sports which engaged nearly 200 people from two dozen sports. The online event offered more than 80 solution-focused sessions and 61 speakers from five continents. An internationally-certified professional facilitator, mediator, and organizational alchemist, Ruth was a national finalist for the 2018 Hudl Innovator of the Year award for youth soccer. She specializes in helping clubs design board processes and club operations to provide more effective support to coaches, teams, and players. m