Clubs need policies for a number of reasons. Policies formalise and document the club's rules and procedures and they can be used as a reference in case a dispute or a controversial incident occurs.
Policies also provide a how-to guide for the committee and members and is particularly useful when new committee members or volunteers come on board. Documented policies and procedures are critical components to a football club's risk management plan.
Which policies are important?
Any policy that improves the quality of your club is important. Your club should consider implementing the following polices if you haven't already:
- Racial and Religious Tolerance Policy
- Smoke Free Policy
- Alcohol Management Policy
- Cash Handling Policy
- Team Selection Policy
- Players Code of Conduct
- Parents and Supporters Code of Conduct
- Issue Resolution Policy
- Coaches Code of Conduct (mandatory for accredited coaches)
The AFL also have a number of policies to protect members, players, clubs and spectators. All AFL policies can be viewed here.
Creating and implementing policies isn't as scary as it may sound.
Step One - Assess the current situation
Does the policy already exist? If so, is it written? Is the policy enforced? Does it need updating?
Conduct a survey or discussion members to assess their support for the policy. The consultation with members will also help to identify possible resistance to change.
Step Two - Get the support of the club committee
Place the policy on the agenda for the next committee meeting to get a resolution passed, or propose a working party to establish/update the policy/ies.
Prior to the committee meeting, provide as much information as possible to committee members. Such information may include facts directly related to the policy. For example, if you are looking at developing a smokefree policy, provide facts about passive smoking, outline the legal issues, or examples of other smokefree organisations. Ensure you highlight the reasons why the club needs the policy/ies.
Step Three - Draft the policy
The following points are usually found in a good policy:
- The reasons why your club is implementing the policy. Be sure to highlight any legal importance or health concerns related to the policy
- When the policy comes into effect
- Who is responsible for enforcing the policy
- What to do if people ignore the policy
- What type of penalties your club will issue to those who breach the policy
- What is the standard code of behaviour for players, coaches, volunteers and officials when they are representing your club
Step Four - Develop a non-compliance strategy
A non-compliance strategy tells a person what to do if someone ignores or breaches the policy. This strategy should form part of your club's overall policy. The strategy should follow a simple step-by-step process and be easy to follow.
Step Five - Promote the new policy
The timing and manner of introducing your policy is important. The beginning of a new season is usually a good time to introduce the new policy. Promote the policy's start date to all members, patrons, supporters and spectators. Giving advanced notice will give people time to get used to the change and will help to avoid possible resistance.
Consider using the following mediums to help promote your club's new policy:
- Signs and notice boards
- Club social media platforms and website
- Member/Player/Volunteer Handbooks
- Player Leadership Group
- PA Announcements during match-days
- Explanation during training and induction days
Step Six - Review your policy
Set dates to review your policy. This is very important when the policy is first introduced. It is a good idea to review the policy six months after it has been introduced. Seek feedback on how the policy can be changed to make it more effective. Ask the following questions:
- Are people following the new policy?
- Are the signs and promotional material effective?
- Do staff/volunteers need more training?
- Is the non-compliance strategy working?
Over time things will also change within your club. Be sure that the policy is kept up to date.