20 January, 2011
How to Make Your Own Soccer League
Soccer is one of the most popular team sports in the United States. About 13.6 million people seven years of age or older have played soccer at least once, according to a 2009 National Sporting Goods Association Sports Participation survey. A ball, goal posts and shin guards are all that's necessary for you to enjoy this wonderful game. Sometimes it’s tough finding an organized league for your age group. One way to fill the local void is to start a league yourself. While it takes a lot of planning, it can pay dividends for the whole community.
Research the options for players in the area. It’s hard competing with well-established leagues. Instead, ask around to see what the players want that they don't have. For example, if there’s an existing adult soccer league in the spring, start one in the fall. Or, if there’s already a competitive league, start a fun co-ed league.
Establish a board with defined positions such as president, treasurer and public relations. Look for soccer-knowledgeable people in the community, including high-school coaches, former college players and parents of players. Have the board draft a constitution and vote to decide key issues. What happens in the event of a tie? Do the teams play overtime? Avoid making decisions on the fly .
Recruit coaches and players. Target places where the age group you’re recruiting works and socializes, such as pubs, sporting goods' stores and health clubs. The soccer community is usually a tight-knit group and word travels fast. You can also ask the athletic department of high schools and colleges to post flyers on its bulletin boards.
Develop a website to help disseminate league information. Interested players and volunteers can learn how to sign up and who to contact. Once the league gets going, use the website to post valuable information such as schedules and weather cancellations.
Secure playing fields for games and practices. You’d hate to create a buzz for your league then have to scramble to find venues. A town or school system often have public fields that teams need to reserve in advance. You might have trouble getting your preferred times as the new kid on the block. Check with the town’s park and recreation department and the schools’ athletic departments.
Affiliate with an organization such as U.S. Soccer, American Youth Soccer, YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America or any local ones. An association usually provides support such as clinics and can offer accident and liability insurance.
Solicit companies, civic organizations and business people for funding. The league inevitably will have costs, whether it’s buying balls or renting a field. See if companies want to sponsor teams. Offer them the opportunity to have their logos on team jerseys.
Ask league members to donate their time according to their particular skill set. Maybe a player – or a parent if it’s a youth league – is an accountant, for example, and wouldn’t mind donating his or her services to help establish the league as a nonprofit organization.
Soccer requires a high fitness level. Make it essential that all players take a physical before playing. Also, see if a local EMT can attend games in case there is an emergency.
- Ask league members to donate their time according to their particular skill set. Maybe a player – or a parent if it’s a youth league – is an accountant, for example, and wouldn’t mind donating his or her services to help establish the league as a nonprofit organization.