Player responsibilities should involve development activities

Sports associations are mainly run by volunteers; therefore, as many people as possible must dedicate time to recruiting for and developing the organization. Each association must invest in development to generate a continuous flow of new members and raise the quality of the existing player base. 

Since resources are very limited in general, active members need to commit to participating in recruitment or beginner's development activities. With their involvement, you can plan which events and tournaments to run and how to assign resources. 

These activities should not be too time-consuming or demanding for volunteering athletes—plan individual goals for the player's season, which can also involve volunteer activities for the association. According to the European Ultimate Federation Census, the percentage of women-matching players in Europe is about 33%. Many play in multiple divisions, like mixed and women's. As an association, you must ensure that all players have enough breaks during the season. Consider additional activities as energy-consuming as playing and structure the goals and season so that all players have equal downtime and that it's not the women-matching players doing a disproportionate amount of work. If women-matching players do more than their share, they are likely to suffer in their athletic performance and mental health. It is not uncommon for top players to lose their focus in tournaments or training because they have to take care of the beginners' team.

Having diverse role models is vital in these development activities, but you should have a priority system where you know how to use your resources best. For instance, having a woman-matching leader involved is potentially more effective in recruiting new women-matching players, while supervising basic drills for beginners could be done by every leader. Be aware of the stereotype that women-matching players tend to take "caring" jobs while men-matching players tend to take executing and leading jobs. Take an active step to prevent this trap and give equal opportunity to develop skills for leading and caring (they go very well hand in hand, by the way).

Having mixed gender captains/trainers in a mixed team can benefit the group. Give them different responsibilities that have the same importance (e.g. offence and defence). When dealing with underage girls, try to ensure you have at least one coach, assistant or team manager that identifies as woman-matching. Young players tend to want to discuss issues with a coach or captain that is also woman-matching (e.g. if they want to discuss an incident or ask for advice about managing menstruation and performance).

"A rising tide lifts all boats" - having a coach that identifies as a woman encourages the team to recognize and acknowledge the other women in the team. The EUF gender equity survey 2020 showed that almost 90% of participants have no preference between a male and a women coach, as long as they are qualified. The research also showed that most participants would like to have two genders represented in coaching roles, with the head coach and assistant having different genders.

One best practice to let people be part of the club development is organizing recreational leagues like winter and summer. These are very good for recruiting new players or keeping the ones that don't want to play anymore at an elite level, BUT they might cause burnout of elite players if they have to commit to supporting this activity. So it is important to manage people's time and investments in such events. 

Keep it fun, and keep it simple!

Referenced Case Studies

Follow the EUF:
Any feedback on this page?
With the support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.