Supporting families through financial hardship
This answer relates only to the question and should not be extrapolated. There is never one situation that is identical to another and sometimes even the smallest detail matters.
Maggie from Wodonga in Victoria and asks “We know that we have boys and girls that can’t afford the gear. Is there something we can do at a club without the kids feeling embarrassed or ashamed?”
Our Panel Of Expertise panellist, Rana Hussain, has responded to the question:
First of all, I just want to say, you’ve made it halfway to a solution by asking the question in the first place. Also for understanding the complexities around what it’s like for families who may not be able to afford equipment to play sport. This is something many families experience for many different reasons and is often one of the bigger barriers for their uptake of sport.
The (not so easy) answer is to not single out families who may be in financial hardship but to provide the basic equipment to all participants. This would create an ‘equal playing field’ as they say, and remove any financial barriers to participation. Many small sporting goods businesses (and sometimes the bigger brands) are happy to either sponsor clubs or provide equipment. It’s worth pounding the pavement a little to see if you can strike up a deal where in exchange for some advertising you get free or cheaper equipment.
Another option is to create a ‘financial hardship’ mechanism that families could take up if they feel comfortable to. This could be a (confidential) form or simply an email address that families could contact if they feel they need some support around buying equipment and gear. This mechanism would then be advertised to all families and it is then their choice to access it. I would stress that maintaining the confidentiality of families who opt-in for this is vital to ensure they feel comfortable enough to take this up. This process could also be supported by either donations of used equipment from community/older club members or donations of money for vouchers at a local sporting store – getting creative always helps!
Reaching out to organisations like Soles for a cause is also worth a try Boots For All or Soles For A Cause. Again supplying a larger amount of shoes to a group and letting those who feel they could use the help access them is more appropriate than singling out particular kids or families.
If you would like to approach families on this issue, I would invest in developing a relationship with them first. Make sure you’ve spent time with them, getting to know them on a human to human level before you offer any kind of financial support. You might find in the ‘getting to know them’ process they themselves bring up the topic. I would say that many families would appreciate that helping hand as long as it is sensitively and confidentially dealt with. Good luck!
Rana Hussain is a passionate advocate for the power of sport to influence social change. She is an Inclusion and Diversity expert working for the Richmond Football Club. She also works as a writer, broadcaster and presenter. Aside from football Rana’s loves are all things pop culture and her 5-year-old daughter. Visit all of Rana’s responses to the Panel Of Expertise here.
While all attempts have been made to verify the accuracy of the information provided in this written response, the Panel Of Expertise panellists assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions. Should a sports club face any difficulties as a result of acting on the advice, it is recommended that they seek out independent professional technical support to rectify the situation. The Club Respect panellists will not be held responsible for any repercussions beyond the scope of this response.