A major concern of community clubs during the COVID-19 pandemic is how to keep players engaged while there is no footy being played. 

The secret is to get creative with how to connect! Fortunately, everyone is isolating. This means people are open to new ways to connect with people and groups. 

Social Media

With the more time on their hands, people are spending more time browsing their social media news feeds. This makes social media a perfect tool to engage with your players. 

Many clubs have had success and a lot of fun engagement using #stayathomechallenge.

Other ideas include:

  • Find funny photos from throughout the previous seasons and play "Caption this Photo"
  • Host a "Club Shirt Friday" and get players to post photos of themselves wearing club merchandise
  • Online quizzes or posts asking 'iso' questions like "What's the strangest thing you have done to pass iso time?"
  • Social media take over - think "An ISO day in the life of XXX". You are bound to get some funny ones. 
  • Create "Sum up your day using emoji" posts
  • 3-minute Push up Challenge - get players to do push ups for 3 minutes and post how many they can get done. Offer a sponsor product or club merch as a prize. 
  • Online training programs like AFL Umpire have done 

Think about posting non-footy related content. Ultimately, you want to generate conversation to keep people engaged.

Be sure to create a Covid-19 Communications Plan to help streamline your content.

Coach and Team Video Calls

A number of coaches are making great use of the various video calling platforms available. Coaches are setting up regular video calls to check in with players. This is a great way to touch base and ensure players are looking after themselves physically and mentally. It also shows the club cares about the players' well-being and creates a greater trust and sense of belonging. 

You can also host regular team meetings so everyone can check-in, get season updates and connect with the team. 

Whatsapp Group

Create a team Whatsapp group so players can stay in contact with each other and share information and stories, and just have an informal chat when they need to. 

Online Group Exercise Sessions 

Using video calling platforms, organise a regular group exercise session. Most clubs will have a few gym-junkies within their playing group that can instruct a 30min session for the group.

Online Lunch & Learn Sessions

The club can offer regular "Lunch & Learn" sessions across a range of subjects using video calling platforms. Use sponsors who may be experts in business or other areas of interest or club members who could speak on nutrition, mental health or leadership. The topics could be endless.

Virtual Happy Hour

Set up a Facebook event, invite your members and host a happy hour. This gives the opportunity for players to connect and talk about things other than footy! 

Host a Netflix Party 

Netflix Party is a new way to watch Netflix with your friends online. Netflix Party synchronises video playback and adds group chat to your favourite Netflix shows.

Remote Team Dinners

Send around a Facebook event, share an easy recipe everyone can cook and host a remote team dinner. This can replace the usual team dinners your club may run during a normal season.

Club Podcast 

Podcasts are a creative way to build a genuine connection with your players and wider audience. Podcasts aren't as scary to create as they sound. This page will help you get started with your club's very own podcast! It's also a great way to reach a potential new audience and recognise sponsors!

Esport Tournament

Gaming is one of those great activities you can do with people without having to physically be in their presence. Hosting your own eSport tournament may be a little complicated but could be worth it especially if you have a gamer in your club audience that can help you out. Again, many platforms can help you host your own tournament like Toornament. A quick Google should give you a list of sites that provide instruction and platforms to help.

Online Trivia Nights

This is a great way to engage your players, raise some money and recognise sponsors at the same time! Ask your sponsors to donate prizes for the night and give them a plug during the event to increase sponsor value.

There are online trivia platforms to help your run your trivia night from home. You can use software like TriviaHub or ZOOM to host your night. Once you set up the event, ask members to pay a small fee to enter the event and market the event through your social media channels, club newsletters and website. 

Virtual Game Night

Like trivia nights, you can host virtual game nights! Again, there are many platforms to host your game night. Jackbox Games is just one of them. A quick Google search should help you find a platform to suit your needs. 

Battle of the Clubs

Join forces with another local club to muster up some healthy competition! Create challenges for the playing groups like:

  • Total Club KM covered in a week 
  • Fastest individual KM time 
  • Most KM covered by an individual
  • Most push ups/sit ups/squats in 2 minutes (filmed)

Get players to post smartwatch data (if possible) on social media to generate conversation.

If your club has had success engaging senior players during the COVID-19 pandemic, please send the details to clubhelp@afl.com.au to showcase your success and ideas to other clubs.