Sporting organisations/clubs must view the current COVID-19 lockdown period as a significant opportunity to strategically assess the status of their overall performance against their development plans inclusive of their preparation plans for the eventual return to sport. A strategic approach focuses on current operations as well as strategies toward achieving high levels of performance and growth on and off the field.
A strategic development plan should state clearly the goals and objectives and be guided by the club's/ sporting organisation's mission and vision. Some of the benefits of a strategic development plan are:
*It provides a roadmap for growth. The executive or management team must always be aware of the factors that are affecting so necessary changes can take place with minimal disruption. The response or reaction of sporting organisations to the impact of COVID-19 will be determined to a large extent by the level of proactivity and innovativeness of their leadership team. Successful adaptation to change is very much informed by design rather than by accident.
*By providing a clear direction, the sporting organisation membership will be able to assess the progress of the club as well as participate in the overall development process. In other words, a clearly expressed strategic development plan reinforces the principles of transparency, accountability and good governance.
*It provides a basis upon which membership drives can improve across different demographics such as age, ethnicity, gender, religion, geography and social class. This is critical at a time where the issue inclusivity in sport has become a global issue of discussion- such as the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) “New Gold Standard for Race, Gender, Diversity and Inclusion in Sport” (September 2020).
*It provides a foundation for management to establish a path toward establishing strategic relationships with various stakeholders such as schools, community groups, National Governing Bodies (NGBs), the Ministry of Sports and Community Development (MSCD) and the Sport Company (SPORTT).
*It is a critical document to be presented to potential sponsors. Sponsors prefer to partner with organisations that are organized and committed toward good governance and efficiency. Given the current economic hardship that the business community is facing, sporting organisations especially the less known have to be very strategic in their sponsorship proposals.
In writing a strategic development plan, there are three (3) important questions that must be addressed candidly.
1. Where is the club at the moment?
To address this question, the club should engage in a SWOT analysis, i.e., it should identify its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and potential threats.
2 .Where would the club like to be in a particular time frame?
In answering this question, the club management should consider several factors such as building membership; improving overall performance not only in terms of the sport but also the overall management of the club; developing coaching and other key support areas for the sport and also address the issues of facilities and equipment.
3. What is the road map to achieve where the club will like to be?
In responding to this question, the club's management should develop a comprehensive plan based on the information from the aforementioned questions. An implementation action plan must also be developed and supported by a process of monitoring and evaluation. An important aspect of the action plan is ensuring clearly:
*What has to be done and by whom
*Establishing SMART time frames
*Ensuring the necessary resources are available
*Knowing all costs items
A strategic development plan will not guarantee success on its own, however, when combined with the right human resource capacity, it has the potential contribute toward achieving the goals and objectives of any sporting organisation.