Connect2sport’s attempts to transition a group of young diverse men into a football club setting taught the project the club model was not the best fit for the community’s needs. Community feedback indicated that the level of commitment expected in the club structure was a barrier to participation. The community wanted to keep things flexible and found the commitment of training and away games difficult to manage.
Feedback also indicated, however, that the community was prepared to offer some level of commitment. A ‘drop in and play’ Futsal programme had been operating out of the Roskill Youth Zone with a consistent number of regular attendees.
Feedback from consultation with the ‘drop and play’ participants indicated:
- Most participants attending this programme were already Futsal or 11 aside soccer players with some having played previously for football clubs.
- While they enjoyed being part of the ‘drop in and play’ programme, they really wanted something with a more competitive element – something that offered the chance of pitting their skills against others.
- Competition was just as important as meeting and making new friends from different backgrounds. They were more likely to show commitment and regularly attend the evenings if a competitive structure was in place.
- The community indicated that incentives of prizes would also increase commitment levels. The community suggested having knock-out rounds or a finals day at the end of the programme so they could find out who the best team was – and possibly giving that team a fees holiday for the next programme.
- Commitment to the programme would also only come if the competitive league was structured at a low cost.
- They are also more likely to commit if the programme continued to be delivered from a location that was in their neighbourhood and easy for them to access.
- They would happily to commit to a 6-8 week league, with multiple leagues throughout the year.
This feedback resulted in the Auckland Football Federation, RYAN, the Roskill Youth Zone and Connect2sport developing the ‘Futsal at Roskill’ league – a 6-8 week competitive league run at the Roskill Youth Zone. The cost of the league was kept to a minimum and payment options provided to teams registered. The league proved to be an effective programme with large numbers attending. This was due, in part, to the fact that the Futsal product represented a good fit with the community’s need as it did not require the same level of commitment as traditional football and also takes away other barriers of transport and cost.
It is worth noting that those that the consultants who facilitated the focus group noticed a marked increase in self-confidence in many of the participants who had also taken part in the 2012 focus group. They were more comfortable, both with each other and in front of the facilitators, they were more willing to give opinions, and appeared considerably more self-assured and positive in general.
It is also worth noting that the majority of focus groups participants indicated they were keen to continue playing Futsal or other football variants. Only around half, however, were interested in playing for a club. Barriers to players joining or re-joining clubs include:
- wanting to play together in a team with their friends
- past problems meeting team obligations to file registrations and pay fees, or pay on time
- outstanding club fees that would need to be paid
- they would need a coach and ground to play at
- transport to games
- moving into senior levels and feeling they would get ‘thrashed’
Unless these barriers can be overcome some who wish to will not progress through to club membership.
Here’s what some of the participants had to say about the programme: