The Game Planners Blog
The Importance of Club Development (Part 3 Final)
USMNT AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF ELITE PLAYERS
The Importance of Club Development (Part 3)
Partner, The Game Planners, LLC
In the U.S., youth soccer clubs rely almost exclusively on players’ fees to operate. Given the traditionally tight margins associated with this approach, clubs have begun to think seriously about how to find and mine additional sources of revenue. This is a great idea, one that is, frankly, overdue! But one which will require some deliberate thought and the creation of an explicit business strategy and plan. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this inherent challenge and sped up the realization of just how vulnerable our youth soccer club system is being totally dependent on player fees.
Along with planning for alternative sources of revenue, the pandemic highlighted the need for clubs to have sound risk and crisis management plans in place. Solid communication and marketing strategies and plans are also a must, now. As should be readily apparent, a youth soccer club represents and should be run as, a real business. In fact, there are estimates suggesting that the U.S. youth soccer sector represents a 5-6B business, annually.
Most parents assume that clubs are being run like a business, despite their non-profit status. Moreover, many mistakenly take the presence of a board as proof of such. However, as stated earlier, many of these boards, given the current U.S. youth soccer model, operate as ‘parent associations’ and tend to be satisfied with maintaining the status quo - until individual members’ terms end as their children leave the club. If we are to break free from this cycle, it will require a much more targeted focus on club development – not only from individual club owners, executives, directors, but also our National Governing Bodies.
While this article focused exclusively on the Organization Development pillar, we need to have all three pillars, including Business Development and Player/Game Development in place, working in concert, for our youth soccer clubs to thrive and consistently produce elite players for the world stage.
(This article was published in Soccer America on November 18, 2021)