Starting a new program or event is always an adventure. While you may think you have this great idea, program, or product to provide it doesn’t really matter if you can’t attract people to it. The internet provides a plethora of resources to help you spread the word, but in reality the more important aspect in the beginning is to utilize the network you currently have in place. As you raise awareness your ability to extend your reach will increase accordingly. At the same time it’s important to be ready for opportunities as they come, and be prepared to act.
I’m always looking for opportunities to grow Floorball and get it in front of groups that will see value. Recently I was afforded an opportunity to work with USA Floorball to find and develop female players. Given my proximity to the Pacific Northwest, and the network I’ve built from different jobs, and relationships, I set forth to program a prospect and development camp for adult and U19 Female players.
There were multiple challenges that needed to be overcome in order for this event to happen. First and foremost Floorball hasn’t really caught on yet in the area. My first call was to reach out to my contact at the Washington Wild Female Hockey Club, which is the largest Female Hockey Club in the area. I had been in contact with them for some time already and were in the process of scheduling off-ice training for the club when this opportunity came up. They were kind enough to help market the program to their players. While the hockey route is the most obvious marketing strategy, I started to look for other potential advocates in my network who could help me. While my focus was driving players to the event a long term focus was educating as many people about the sport. If anything hopefully more people became aware the sport existed through this process.
Eventually the day came for the development and prospect camp. As is the case for many events, I was a bit nervous. I had been in correspondence with interested parties leading up to the event, and the metrics were showing it was getting in front of people. However, I wasn’t really sure what the turnout would look like. In the end we had two female players show up. Needless to say I was a bit disappointed in the turnout, however, the two that did show up were very interested in the sport. Through our conversations and goofing around with the sticks I feel they really enjoyed learning about Floorball. From that experience alone I have two new ambassadors to the sport who will hopefully expand the reach and education of the sport.
I’ve done a lot of events for all sorts of activities, and it’s easy to focus on the low numbers and shrug it off as a failure. I’ll admit I was a bit frustrated, but in the end I have to stop and stay positive. Anything built on a grassroots movement takes time, education, and persistence. As I move forward I’ll continue to keep pushing things forward. Eventually over time I believe people will see the benefits of Floorball and want to get involved. As you start your own programs I’m sure you’ve been through this same process. Keep pushing, stay positive, and have fun.