Working With Elite Athletes (Part 3): Sports Clubs
Most sports clubs understand the powerful impact that elite athletes have at a grassroots level.
But impact is lost when clubs fall into the trap of doing “the same thing the same way” each season.
Typically this can happen in a few ways.
For example, finding sports stars and legends to support club events is a massive black hole of time for club volunteers, who often spend hours trying to connect with sports talent (researching talent and budgets, waiting to hear back from mates who “know someone who knows someone”, trying to find talent manager contact details etc.) when there is a much easier way to go about it.
Sometimes clubs can overexpose their own elite products – of course, it’s powerful for an elite athlete to return to their home club and talk about their story, and inspire youngsters. But it loses impact that athlete is the only go-to option for every club event!
Some clubs also repeat the same event and fundraising format, often for years, even when it is no longer working. To engage club members and supporters, it’s important to change things up.
Let’s look at just a few ideas to ensure that sports clubs get the full benefit of booking a sports star:
1. Club event/fundraiser
Most clubs have a key annual club event or fundraiser. Refreshing the format (and separating your event from other similar events hosted by other clubs and venues) could simply mean rethinking which sports star you choose, and how you use them.
Some sports club administrators will immediately request the biggest name sports legend possible. But the first step should be to think about the audience and what they want – if it’s pure entertainment, you’ll need a sports personality who is a great story teller, humorous but also able to share insights and inspiration. If it’s a sponsors event, a sports legend who can talk about leadership, team dynamics and other corporate topics could be more beneficial.
Remember, the biggest names don’t necessarily make the best guest speakers. And expecting to drive ticket sales on the back of a “big name” booking alone is dangerous. Allow plenty of time to promote the event, and make sure you put an event marketing plan in place.
Also consider that not all athletes and sports legends can deliver a keynote speech. Changing the format to a Q and A, or even a panel discussion with multiple athletes, could open up your options and create a different dynamic on stage.
When you’re preparing a plan for your talent, allow time for them to mingle with guest attendees. This is really important and adds huge value – never underestimate the impact of a selfie, autograph and a personal chat with a sports star.
2. Trophy and awards presentation events
Club awards nights are important for players, their friends and families. Having a sports star join the event ensures a memorable experience.
Clubs have had great success using elite athletes to kick off the night with some inspirational words from their own career while also presenting awards, shaking hands with winners and posing for photographs with winners and event attendees. This is particularly inspiring for young athletes clubs.
PIC: Eagles star Mark LeCras at Joondalup Football Club
3. Guest coach for skills clinic/training session
Bringing in an elite athlete to takeover a training session or oversee a skills clinic is a great way to motivate athletes, while breaking out of the monotony of the typical weekly training program.
A sports star can give young athletes a taste of elite sport standards and what high performance training really looks like.
And a few words of encouragement from an elite athlete can give a youngster a big dose of inspiration.
PIC: Netball star Paige Hadley running a training session for Woollahra Wildcats
4. Motivational or leadership talk
All teams, even at grassroots level, gain tremendous value from a motivational or leadership talk. In our experience, local clubs have organised for successful elite athletes and coaches to come in and ‘fire up’ their teams.
Whether it’s a team entering a finals campaign, or in the midst of a form slump, stories and insights from the best in the business help take teams to a new level of self-belief and motivation.
5. Fundraising experience auction item (risk free)
Mosts clubs don’t leverage sports stars and legends for fundraising activities, including experience based auction items.
Through companies like PickStar auction packages can be created and sold on consignment at club events – with zero risk to clubs. The club only pays for the athlete/package if and when a package is sold at their event (or for auctions, exceeds the minimum bid), the package is activated for the athlete.
The club gets its fundraising earnings in the difference between the purchase price, and the sale/auction price at the event – this could be thousands of dollars, depending on the package.
Do I have a big enough budget to book a sports star?
This is often a big challenge for sports clubs, who want to book great sports talent without depleting the club bank account.
Firstly, let’s get one thing out of the way – budget is only one factor that sports stars weigh up when deciding whether to take up an event offer. Athletes also consider location, availability/schedule fit and passion for the event purpose (read more about this).
The other important point – there are elite athletes and sports personalities available for any budget. Services like PickStar enable you to canvas a huge athlete database to find the best value talent options for your needs.
Be smart about how you use your talent budget. If you have some finance limitations, steer clear of sports personalities who are at their peak, in terms of profile – these sports stars are usually inundated with requests, have limited schedules and therefore the ability to command bigger fees. Instead, focus on sports personalities who have a great story and experience, who are more likely to deliver great value to your club without necessarily having to be among the biggest (and priciest) names in sport. Also consider sport’s rising stars, who may not have reached their peak but are set to be tomorrow’s champions.
PickStar is Australia’s largest marketplace to connect with elite athletes past and present for any kind of event, campaign or experience.
Choose from 1000+ sports stars, any budget, any location. Find out more.
Read Part 1: How companies can work with sports stars
Read Part 2: How schools can work with sports stars
Read Part 4: How fans can work with sports stars