Building and maintaining a youth sports league takes a lot of time and effort, but in most cases, the opportunity it presents to budding athletes is well worth the investment. That said, to reach this rewarding outcome, league organizers must exercise foresight, commit to quality, and remain proactive as they plan each piece of their endeavor.
Assuming it is viable within state COVID-19 regulations, your new youth athletic program may benefit from these crucial tips.
Pursue the right sport
Though not mandatory, it is vital that a league’s organizers are both passionate and knowledgeable of the sport they intend to showcase. One’s vast experience with playing and/or coaching baseball, for instance, would be advantageous in starting a youth program reflective of the sport’s unique culture. Additionally, such knowledge could help streamline the recruiting of top-level coaches, volunteers, and other relevant personnel.
Whether your league strives to increase involvement, create a local community, or enhance pre-established athletic ability, a genuine understanding of the sport helps build a stronger mission statement.
Raise necessary funds
Fundraising is perhaps the most important part of the league planning process. Liability insurance, facility rental, and equipment are just a few of the potential expenses that will need to be forecasted prior to opening day. Once you have a solid idea of what these numbers look like, take proactive steps to align local sponsors, implement in-season fundraisers, and appropriately tailor all league registration costs. Finally, set an overall budget to establish financial parameters.
Commit to safety
Regardless of the sport in question, player wellbeing should be the main priority of any aspiring youth league. In many cases, your athletes will be inexperienced, and their growing fitness and working knowledge of proper technique increases the chances of injury. Therefore, your league should have a fluid contingency plan aimed at player (and spectator) safety. Be sure to provide quick access to first aid equipment, and ensure all staff members are properly trained to use such equipment should the unthinkable occur.
Your league’s success will be contingent upon a variety of factors, but venue location is arguably the most important in terms of competition logistics; without, games cannot happen and the league cannot remain afloat. When finding your venues, take a similar approach to that of sponsor alignment: first, make a master list of all fields, gyms, courses, or courts in the area. Then, reach out to venue owners or managers to gauge their interest in involvement. The terms of each venue relationship may vary — some may require a permit or rental payment while others may allow you to schedule competitions free of charge.