How Football Clubs Can Host Awesome Open Days

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An Open Day can be a fantastic opportunity to build relationships with your community, attract new people to your club and provide existing members with another, great experience

Firstly, why do you want to run an Open Day? If you think it's just about putting up a few posters around town and then preparing some tea/coffee and some biscuits, then don't bother! Sorry - but the example above speaks for itself.

There has to be a genuine, widespread desire throughout the club to:

  1. engage with the community

  2. share the great experiences you provide with as many people as possible

  3. attract new people and returners to the club

(and it's a great opportunity to tidy up and give the club a good clean). Commitment and enthusiasm are prerequisites to have a great open day. Don't try without it.

Got that? Then, let's get going:

Write down and get agreement from everyone from within the club what you want to achieve on the day. Max 3 points. More and the whole event gets confused.

Choosing the date

When deciding upon a date for your event check that it doesn’t coincide with a major sporting or local event, half term or Bank Holiday weekends.

What's your story? What are you for?

Develop a format and a really good story as to why people within your community should want to join your club.

Plan ahead and get people involved

What do you want to achieve? Is that realistic?

What can you learn from previous open days?

Be clear about who you want to attend

Are you targeting families, school children, students, singles or community partners? Whatever groups you decide to target make sure you can a) reach them b) give them great experiences on the day - experiences that are right for them and not just what you think is a good idea.

Kids bring parents = more potential players

Your open day could also be a great way of engaging with your potential and current community partners from schools, housing, health, community groups, youth services etc. These non-sport organisations can become great partners, funders and commissioners if you know how to work with them. But firstly, they must get to know you, so invite them to your open day and show and tell them about how you are making a difference to the community!

Make it FUN!

The number of incredibly boring so-called Family Fun Days or Open Days I have been to is far too high. Whatever your sport, make sure you have areas where people can try it, or parts of it (remember 'Dip a TOE - Try, Observe, Experience).

Celebrity, politicians and local sports people from other sports are obvious potential players in a charity game. Everybody loves celebs who make a fool of themselves and it makes the rest of us feel less stupid the first time we try a new sport and fail miserably!

Remember, just because you want to include a specific activity in the open day because you like it, does not mean it's a good idea. A great experience for 12 year old kids, walking football 45- year olds or decent players wanting to play in a supportive club environment are somewhat different. When considering what activities to include or external organisations to invite to your event, have in mind your target audience. Don’t forget that by involving local schools, scout groups/girl guides they will bring with them parents, friends and therefore prospective members.

Be a good neighbour

Do let your neighbours know that you will be holding an event, when it will be and the time it is taking place. If you are situated near a school/community centre they may even be happy to allow you to use their facilities such as the kitchen or parking area or they may want to come along and join in the fun!

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