The British Orienteering vision is ‘More People, More Places, More Podiums’. The Development programme is entrusted with delivering the ‘More People’ and ‘More Places’ part of the vision and is working towards increasing participation in orienteering.
The Development Team actively encourage clubs to set up and maintain regular ‘club nights’ in fixed locations. Research has shown that delivering weekly local sporting opportunities will lead to more people participating. By providing regular local activities in a fixed location clubs can improve access to orienteering for people who enjoy the sport. Experience and evidence shows that the fixed location is important to enable the club to direct newcomers to the club night and develop a regular social and training night, similar to those of many other sports.
Club nights are a great way to attract new participants to orienteering and also support current participants with the opportunity to do more orienteering and improve their navigational skills and fitness. There are a huge number of both fitness and skills sessions that can be conducted from one venue. Club nights also enable you to get together as a club in a non-competitive social atmosphere and a way to recruit more event volunteers. There are also opportunities to use the venue as a meeting place whilst visiting other local areas, or holding local events, to provide variety whilst having the continuity of a single meeting place.
In order to provide a regular sustainable Club Night there are a number of things to consider.
British Orienteering Development Team can help you contact your County Sports Partnership (CSP) and local Sports Development Officer (SDO) to gain support in promoting your club to the local community. From here you can also establish a relationship with the local school sport network, they can also assist you in promoting your weekly club and any associated events in the surrounding schools.
British Orienteering provides a range of publicity materials including the print portal for clubs to produce professional posters, flyers and postcards which can be used in promotion at local events, in schools and other community venues. The best promotion is word of mouth either in person or on social media ask your members to tell people about the Club Night and encourage people to give orienteering a go.
There are a range of ideas for sessions to get you started here. Clubs and coaches can purchase ‘Year in a Box’ from British Orienteering which provides a range of equipment, resources and ideas that will enable clubs to provide engaging sessions that can benefit both new and experienced orienteers for a full year of activties.
Who do you want to attract to the club. Club nights have worked best when they have considered carefully the type of people they want to attract. Do you want young adults or more families? The needs of just these two groups vary dramatically and will guide how the activities are promoted and delivered.
As a club consider if you have the appropriate volunteers/coaches to engage with people. Research demonstrates that volunteers and coaches who can develop a good rapport with participants encourage more of them to come back regularly. The Community Orienteering Leader Award provide volunteers with the knowledge, understanding and practical ability to lead Community Orienteering club nights safely.
When identifying possible venues try to consider who will be involved in delivering the activities, the club night should be local to them to ease the time burden on the volunteer. You also want to consider current members and potential new members. Is the venue you are considering easily accessible for a group of current members and is the venue in a well-populated area?
Your local SDO can assist you in finding a suitable venue for the weekly club. This may be a leisure facility, local hall or school. Many Secondary Schools are keen to offer their sports facilities to local clubs and may also be able to form a link with your club so that pupils can easily get involved.
A School site has been the most popular choice by clubs due to low hire costs, ease of access and friendly atmosphere. Schools are often able to provide a combination of indoor space and playing fields/recreation areas to use that are safe and non-intimidating. Advice and support is available to clubs in selecting a venue in order to speak to the correct people and negotiate a deal that benefits both the school, club and local community.
This will in some ways be reliant on when facilities and volunteers are available however consider local factors that may make certain times and days more appealing than others.
Its usually unacheivable to run the Club Night all year round, often the best solution is to identify a time of year that suits the club and fits with the club's development aims.One approach that has been popular is for the club to deliver club nights during the winter months and over the summer run a series of local events on the same evening. This enables the club to train up any new participants and then give them some local fun competitive opportunities to test their new skills.
There are also often funding opportunities that clubs can apply to that will fund the development of new activties which can reduce the financial burden on the club until the club night becomes sustainable. Contact the Development Team to discuss your options.