Player Registration a Priority
"It is for the kids."
People say that all the time. Sometimes they say it sarcastically, because some adults seem overly invested in youth soccer, but most of the time coaches and administrators mean it because they are volunteering their precious time to help young men and women have fun while working to master the game of soccer and develop life-long character traits.
Somebody else once said, "The world is run by those who show up." A variant of that theme is that players only benefit if they are involved. We work with what we have, but sometimes we forget that we have to advertise, promote or otherwise encourage kids to participate - to register or tryout. Registration numbers are down nationally - as they are in Oregon. Clubs in areas with population growth are experiencing declines in numbers.
Larry Monaco, President of US Youth Soccer, has asked all State Associations to make player registration a top priority this seasonal year. This call to arms may come a little too late for this season, as many clubs have already completed most of their seasonal registration. However, two things are true - if the kid is not registered with the club, he (or she) cannot benefit from the programs that the club has to offer; also, it is never too early to start thinking about how to increase membership next seasonal year.
If you are a player or parent - tell your friends about the fun and benefits of playing soccer. If you are a club administrator, think about cost-effective ways you can increase your membership. Offer incentives for early registration. One club worked with Nike to allow early-bird or new club members access to the Nike Employee Store. Perhaps there are other local businesses willing to offer discounts to club members.
Some clubs put ads in papers (some pay, some convince the paper to run human-interest stories). Most clubs pass out flyers to community groups, schools and churches, when allowed. I have also seen lawn signs around neighborhoods and schools that announce club registration information.
The Massachusetts Youth Soccer Association has one of the highest registration percentages in the nation, with 2.5% of their state population registered. They encourage clubs to identify one person on their board, or among their families, to be responsible for marketing and advertising.
OYSA will have a workshop on how clubs can increase their membership at this year's Annual General Meeting, scheduled for Jan. 9 and 10, 2010, at the Westin Salishan Resort at Gleneden Beach. If you are interested in being your club's membership marketing person, let your club know. Maybe you can attend the AGM workshop. Even if you can't, OYSA will be glad to work with you and your club to help grow your membership so that more kids can experience the fun, excitement and long-term benefits of the world's most popular sport.
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