The Dynamics of Player Visits
The dynamics of working together to recruit the professional players to reinforce the clubs corporate social responsibility messages in the community has been a long road. The need to develop a high level of trust, a rapport and build healthy relationships between players, community staff and press officers takes time. It’s this collective approach with Managers, Chief Executives, Player Liaison Officers, Community staff and Press Officers that has led to increased player support and visits.
The ‘Formal Process’ introduced for player visits has defined the procedures and protected the players by ensuring supervision, briefing the players and planning the player visits (and giving notice) around the players free time. The players understand the dynamics of what’s going on in the communities they continue to serve.
The new PFA Chairman, Clarke Carlisle said, “I didn’t realise before I became more involved with the PFA and sat on the Management Committee five years ago just how much excellent work goes on behind the scenes. The PFA is instrumental in helping clubs do what they do and all that work goes back into the Community.
Like all PFA members in this modern era, Clarke Carlisle, the new PFA Chairman, is dedicated, not just to his profession, but to his duties as a role model within his community. Clarke went on to say:
“Although much of the work carried out by players, away from the training pitch and the playing field goes largely unnoticed and unrecognised on a national basis, the impact of player involvement in community projects and schemes is no longer undervalued in the local community. Football clubs are aware of their social responsibility, and also of the tandem-like nature of their relationship with the local community. Facilitating and implementing projects ranging from educational support to social inclusion to soccer schools, the club are having a positive influence on future generations. Having the club’s name attached to these schemes can, in return, bring about the beginnings of lifelong support or unearth new talent and ensure the future lifeblood of the club.
"The PFA has such an active role in so many Community projects and that is something I am very proud to be involved with”
Clarke Carlisle, PFA Chairman.
Local schools and communities are now aware of the enormous impact that a local professional’s presence can have on the attendance, involvement and attention levels of their groups. Inspirational is an over-used word, but is exactly appropriate to describe the effect.”
The impact is not lost on the players either. With just over 37,000 community visits this year by a workforce of approximately 2,500 players, the commitment is plain to see. Being asked to attend community or charity events is not seen as a chore for players, far from it. Our members really embrace the community work we are asked to do, from clubs at the top of the Premier League to the bottom of the Football League. Players take a keen interest in the many community projects that are constantly ongoing and in the welfare of the youngsters whose lives we can affect”.
Player Support Questionnaires are being introduced to identify and develop the passion and interests of players and profile them to fulfil the role of possible ambassadors in education, health, community cohesion or social inclusion. This is a further step in the ladder to get to know the player’s background, their likes and dislikes – know them on a personal level. The players are still the best marketing tool the club have to engage their local community.
Clarke concluded with “The charge now is not to surpass this level, as the amount of man-hours available is finite, although we do expect them to be maintained. The target is to evaluate and improve the quality of that interaction.
Handing out certificates will put a smile on a child’s face for the day, whereas assisting them to read in a mentoring programme will inspire them to try harder and hopefully, impress upon them the importance of such skills, as endorsed by their local hero!
Means are being established in order to actually quantify the impact of a player visit, but until such a system is up and running, take personal responsibility. As a club, as a community scheme officer, as a player, maximise the impact of your involvement by ensuring that each person has gained or learned something by your attendance that day. The dynamics of player appearances has changed dramatically and totally for the better. The involvement of the lads up and down the country, at all levels, is absolutely outstanding”.