To apply the Sports Club for Health approach in your sports club, we recommend using a four-stage application model.
1. Assess the present conditions and goals
- • Identify the support and possibilities for SCforH intiative within the club and in its environment
- • Define the target group
- • Identify the health potential
- • Explore the know-how and material support
- • Agree upon the aims and strategy
- • Inform internally and externally
- • Secure competent and supportive personnel
- •Monitor the feasibility
- • Keep records and evaluate
- • Share your success
- • Go back to the former stage if needed
Before starting any SCforH initiative, it is a good idea to form a clear picture of the identity, context, and conditions of the club. Sports clubs differ considerably in terms of a number of factors such as how they address health in their programmes, their development goals and resources, and the specific requirements of the clubs and their officials. It is, therefore, important to note that the most efficient way to adopt and implement the SCforH approach will depend and should be selected on the basis of the existing conditions in the club.
First, it is important to identify the support and possibilities for implementation of the SCforH approach both within and outside the club. It is recommended to ask whether the leading officials, members, and participants in your club would support the implementation of the SCforH approach. Support from club officials is particularly important because it ensures that SCforH will eventually become embedded in the club activities. Any reluctance identified at this stage must be overcome before proceeding to the planning stage. It may be useful at this early stage to develop an interest group whose members will help disseminate information about the SCforH concept in the club and help persuade club officials to consider implementation. Those in charge of planning the SCforH initiative(s) in the club should have a common understanding of: 1) What the SCforH approach is; 2) what the characteristics of the club and its sport discipline(s) are; and 3) how the SCforH approach aligns with the characteristics of the club (e.g., possibilities and resources). Before beginning to plan the implementation of SCforH initiatives, a common understanding of these points has to be reached. A sports club is not a closed and isolated system; on the contrary, it is a ‘living part’ of its environment. At this stage it is, therefore, also worth looking outside the immediate club setting to determine whether other potential partners or actors can be identified who would be interested in collaborating in the SCforH project or supporting it.
At this point, it is recommended to define the target group of the initiative. Depending on the club and its membership structure, it is important to define the target group of the SCforH initiative. Priority groups as well as groups that are likely to respond well to this approach should be identified. It should be considered whether they will focus on all members or a specific group of members such as females, males, children, adolescents, adults, seniors, newcomers, or established members. This focus will determine the steps taken during the remainder of the planning stage.
Next, it is recommended to identify the health potential of your sport and activities for the target group. A great deal of evidence supports the positive effect of physical activity on health. Sport disciplines differ in many aspects and on many levels, not least with respect to the amount of physical effort involved. Thus, it is important to specify the particular health benefits of each sport discipline. At the same time, it is important to consider that health benefits may also vary due to other factors such as the age and gender of participants and the amount of exercise. It is, therefore, essential to review the potential health benefits to each of the different target groups.
It is then recommended to explore the know-how and support outside your club. Club personnel may offer human resources (i.e., know-how and time) or these may need to be recruited outside the club. It is important to clearly outline the resource requirements early on during the planning stage and subsequently allocate appropriate responsibilities to interested and competent individuals or groups. Extending resource seeking beyond the club setting may also be a good option as it can lead to the formation of beneficial collaborations and help establish supportive relationships. In some cases, the cooperation with organisations and relevant groups outside the club is the key to success. Running an SCforH initiative may also require the investment of additional financial resources. Funding may be obtained from the club or some external source (e.g., local government, philanthropic trusts, and foundations), through fundraising, or through self-financing.
At the end of the planning stage, it is important to agree on the aims and develop a strategy and an action plan. Aims should be as detailed as possible, understandable, and feasible to achieve. Ideally, all aims should be time-bounded and quantifiable. After the aims have been formulated, the key activities for each aim should be determined, designed, and described. The activities should be clearly described by defining the respective time frames, resources required, and individuals or groups that are involved in their implementation and supervision.
At the beginning of this stage it is important to communicate information about the forthcoming actions both internally and externally. The communication of information about the SCforH-related actions should preferably be performed both within and outside the club. Internally, existing communication channels such as the club’s bulletin, parents’ meetings, club’s web pages, and mailing lists should be used. It is as important to inform the club officials as it is to inform the parents of young members. Externally, communications can be directed to representatives of the municipality (sports and health sectors), local government, financial supporters, partner institutions, and other clubs. Communicating with members of the local media and posting information using social media channels may be pivotal aspects of successful marketing campaigns for SCforH initiatives. Social marketing might be a helpful method that can be used to communicate information about the SCforH initiative. In social marketing, traditional commercial marketing concepts, tools, and techniques are applied toward changing individuals’ behaviour for the benefit of society. In this case, the SCforH initiative is marketed to address the high rates of physical inactivity in the community. For the best results, when advertising the SCforH initiative, all elements of the ‘marketing mix’ (i.e., product, place, price, promotion, people, physical environment, and process) should be tailored to meet the needs of the SCforH target group. If the sports club’s management does not feel competent enough to lead marketing activities, they are encouraged to ask a marketing specialist for his or her advice or assistance. Expert help can improve the chances that the SCforH initiative is successfully marketed.
Furthermore, it is essential to ensure the competence of instructors and club managers and support them in delivering the SCforH activities. Successful implementation of an SCforH initiative relies upon the competence of instructors with respect to their abilities to deliver the planned activities. It should be ensured that all instructors have the required knowledge and skills to deliver the activities that have been planned as part of the SCforH initiative. If needed, the club representative should provide the instructors with the proper education internally or provide opportunities for them to receive education externally. Before starting an SCforH initiative, one must ensure that the instructors are familiar with all the practical procedures and that the required equipment is functioning properly. Receiving feedback and support from members of the club management at regular intervals may motivate instructors, especially if they are working on a voluntary basis. Ensuring the instructors’ competences and providing instructors with quality education is critical for the successful implementation of an SCforH initiative.
It is also very important to monitor the implementation of planned activities and gather data for documentation. Information on whether the planned activities are being implemented as planned can be collected from instructors and participants. The data you collect at this stage will support the evaluation of the feasibility and effectiveness of the SCforH initiative.
It is essential to keep records and evaluate the SCforH initiative, to ensure the credibility and determine the effectiveness of the SCforH initiative. This includes both process and outcome evaluations to assess whether the initiative was delivered as planned and whether it was effective with respect to its stated aims. It is particularly important to conduct a process evaluation in the early stages of the SCforH initiative delivery to determine whether the club is a viable setting for these activities. To conduct a process evaluation, a record of actions that have been taken to achieve the aims of SCforH initiative should be kept. The aim of the process evaluation is to assess how the planned activities were delivered. The fact that records of actions undertaken is kept will allow reflections upon progress to be made and particularly: 1) to find out whether the SCforH aims and objectives were achieved; 2) to find out what went well and what could be improved; 3) to draw associations between actions and outcomes; and 4) to gather feedback from all participants (e.g., on their satisfaction with the SCforH initiative and instructor(s)). Keeping written records may be the most efficient and easiest way to keep track of which actions have been taken. Such records could include, for example, the number of participants, duration of the activities, level of participants’ enjoyment and satisfaction, participants’ experiences, and resources required.
After implementing the SCforH initiative(s) in your club, it is essential to share your success inside and outside the club. By sharing your experiences and the results of the evaluations of your SCforH initiative, you can acknowledge the people and institutions that contributed to the implementation of the initiative, spread the word about the success in your community, and encourage others to start similar initiatives. It may be useful to seek support from representatives of the local media and community leaders, who can help you share your positive stories with a larger audience. This can, in return, result in positive publicity for your club and motivate new members to join. By sharing the results of the evaluations within the club and including information about the SCforH initiative in an internal club leaflet, this important information will be communicated to members, parents, and coaches. Posting information on social media channels is a practical and effective way to share your success story with others.
The application model presented here should not be understood as a unidirectional model. Depending on the results of the evaluation, you can revert to earlier stages of the process. The implementation and delivery of an SCforH initiative should involve a continuous process of assessment, learning, and improvement.