The way your club is run is crucial to its success on and off the field.

There are clubs run by a ‘closed’ group.

While this situation is often described as a ‘boys’ club’ or ‘old guard’, it isn’t always exclusively male.

This kind of closed group has been around for ages, keeping the power firmly in its own hands, and probably dominated by one or two people.

These closed groups tend to:

  • Resist change
  • Rarely share information or power
  • Believe their way is the only way
  • Make everyone else take a backseat.

These are really difficult clubs to belong to. You can’t see where and how decisions are made, how fees are managed and used, and you have no say in club direction.

People often leave clubs like this.


For a club to become a place of deep respect, safety and fairness, its governing structure needs to be genuinely diverse, inclusive and democratic.

Decision-making in this kind of club is transparent. People sitting on committees are valued and listened to, there is no intimidation by a club President who knows it all and slaps people down.

Changing to such a culture mightn’t be easy but it can be done.

The rewards are worth the effort.

Achieving cultural change in the club means working respectfully and civilly with everyone, including the ‘boys’ club’, if it exists.

It’s about setting a new, fresh standard of behaviour in place.

Revitalisation is good for any club. Better still, when the transformation is about a club becoming a place of respect, fun, safety and success, everyone benefits.

Club Respect's S.M.A.R.T steps

  • S. Safe
    • It’s best not to work alone, you’ll need the support of others.
    • Work as constructively as possible with the closed group, avoiding unnecessary division and conflict.
    • It’s best to start by having a conversation with someone in the club who has established links to the administrative group, someone you feel you can trust.
  • M. Moderate
    • There’s no substitute for being reasonable, working with reliable evidence, and established facts.
    • Talk constructively with others connected to the club (parents, supporters) to gauge their feelings and perspectives on the way the club’s currently being operated.
    • Do your homework; familiarise yourself with club operations and policies and have a clear idea of how these stack up against other clubs that seem to be operating in a more open and transparent way.
    • Bring together a group of people, (doesn’t have to be a big group,) who share your interest in changing club culture for the better. Together, develop your case as to how the club can lift its game and become a place of respect, safety and fairness.
    • When your group meets the committee,  insist on civility, honesty and a respectful hearing.
  • A. Action and solution-oriented
    • In making your case, make sure you include some achievable, positive ideas that can readily be adopted by the club.
    • Keep them simple, and easy to implement, such as a one-page document from the committee to members that outlines how fees are collected and distributed across the club.
  • R. Respectful
    • Model composure and respect in all of your interactions.
    • Remember, if club personalities or identities go low – you go high!
  • T. Team
    • Yelling and screaming, making put-down remarks or escalating anger and resentment achieves little.
    • Collaboration, and working together on issues in common, always works best.