A welcoming club thinks outside the box in how they include anyone from their local community. Becoming a welcoming club involves a shift in your club's culture and vision on how you put in place the opportunity to participate with your club. 

Inclusion | Steps to being inclusive | Gender Diversity in leadership roles


Understanding why people participate in sport and recreation is a huge factor in retaining their membership. There has been a lot of research into participation and why different age groups and genders participate in sport and recreation, so if you want to increase participation through your club here are a couple places to start:

Starting with a new club can be daunting for children and their parents. A welcoming, friendly environment is what will help them settle in and connect to the rest of your club quickly and confidently:

  • a volunteer dedicated to welcoming new members

  • showing them around and getting familiar with the club’s location

  • providing new members with a welcome pack:

    • training times and location for their team

    • uniforms and equipment information

    • who their Coach is

    • Codes of Conduct

    • current committee members and contacts

    • what communication channels your club uses

    • upcoming events

    • how to volunteer.

Parents are a key factor in children staying as active members of a club. It is important to engage both the children and the parents as part of your club. Offering parents’ ways to participate, socialise and engage with other parents of the club, assist in the whole family becoming part of your sporting community. Parents of your club are the best role models for your junior members. Their behaviour on and off the field and around the club facilities is the behaviour that leads by example.

It is important your club has a clear sideline behaviour (code of conduct) policy and deals appropriately with members and non-members who breach these codes of conducts. Sport should be FUN for all and a space for encouraging participation, learning new skills and sportsmanship. A place for children and parents to be safe, encouraged and celebrated regardless of a winning result. Including this into your club culture will increase your membership and participation numbers.

Clubs and groups that provide a variety of programs that creator for everyone and are inclusive are ones that will grow the most in participation. Low participation numbers have been identified in sport and recreation in the following groups:

  • girls/women

  • all abilities

  • CALD

  • Indigenous

  • youth.

Being a welcoming and inclusive club/group to members from all backgrounds and cultures will help your community become more engaged, safer, and you will see growth in memberships.


What is inclusion?

Inclusion means that all people, regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or cultural backgrounds, have the right to be respected and appreciated as valuable members of their communities.

Benefits for your club:

  • improved productivity

  • increased membership

  • access to more funding opportunities

  • stronger teams.

Benefits to the individuals:

  • improvements to physical and mental health

  • improvements to self-confidence and skills

  • reduced stress, anxiety and depression

  • sense of belonging leading to performing better in school and/or work life.

Benefits to the community:

  • sense of belonging and ownership of the local area

  • reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour

  • increase in the social wellbeing of community, reducing the pressure on health system

  • increase in volunteer participation.

Steps to being inclusive

Becoming an inclusive club or group is not rocket science, nor does it require specialized equipment or training. It is simply a shift in your clubs culture and attitude towards others in your community. The colour of one’s skin, their ability, or their gender does not change their eagerness to play sport.

Social Inclusion by your club includes:

  • welcoming new and all members regardless of background

  • including all members in social events and fundraising (food is a great starting point)

  • allowing all members to opportunity to volunteer

  • allowing all members to participate in programs provided/run by your club

  • using inclusive language

  • getting to know your members and celebrate your diversity

  • treating all members equally.

Integration through inclusion includes:

  • specialised programs run at the same time/nights as other training programs

  • all players wearing the same uniform

  • all players having the opportunity to develop their skills and learn

  • integration pathways for players to transition to other teams.

Physical access to the facilities owned by the Local Government can sometimes be out of your control on what can be changed. However when your facility upgrades or requests are based on increasing participation through inclusion, you are more likely to attract more funding options and support from other community groups utilising the same grounds. These projects can include:

  • accessible parking with ramps to footpaths

  • accessible ramps to facilities and playing reserve

  • accessible changerooms

  • gender neutral changerooms.

Gender Diversity in leadership roles

Gender diversity in your committee and volunteer positions will allow for your club to open new ways to engage with members and represent your club in the local community. The DLGSC is leading the way in encouraging State Sporting Bodies and organisations to have a balanced gender diversity to boards and staffing personnel. Currently DLGSC has a baseline of 40% gender diversity across all SSA Board Members and committees.

The Case for Change is a key enabler of the cultural change required to improve gender balance within the sport and recreation sector. By increasing the gender diversity of Board members and leaders, sport and recreation organisations can:

  • enhance overall organisational and financial performance

  • increase employee motivation and enhance the work environment

  • reduce the risk of group think and improve decision making

  • enable greater innovation, creativity and ability to adapt to change

  • improve the effectiveness of Boards

  • enhance governance.

Looking at your clubs committee and volunteers, is there room for change? Does a Senior Football Club need to have a male President? A club that would like to increase female participation and engage women in the community to play at their club, needs to first look at their leaders of club and change attitudes and the culture to becoming inclusive for females to want to join. Sporting clubs play an increasingly important role in changing culture behaviours and outcomes of gender stereotyping in sport and their local community.

*Sourced DLGSC Gender Diversity ‘Case for Change’

extraMile by Integranet