Grassroots football is a necessity in life for many. We work during the week to feel the escapism that football brings us on a Saturday and Sunday. Many players join established teams, typically referred by a friend or family member.

Some people, however, are cut from a different cloth. They want their own club, identity and values.

We sat down with some of Kitlocker.com’s most successfully run football teams to get the lowdown on how they operate. Read on below to find out how you could get your club running like clockwork.

Money, Money, Money

If you read our True Cost of Setting Up a Grassroots Football Team article, you’d know that grassroots football isn’t cheap. The best clubs have developed strategies to keep the team ticking over throughout the season. Brinsworth Crusaders manager Ian Garratt says that teams should aim to break even at home matches. “Away games typically cost the team nothing, so bank those subs for pitch, kit and equipment costs,” he told us.

Subs are traditionally the bane of the manager’s life, you can always count on a couple of players to turn up with no money. Ian says set a limit on what a player can owe, if they hit it, they can’t play. Brinsworth recently invested in a chip and pin machine, which is proving popular amongst the players.

Aaron Aston, manager of Swarthmoor Social FC takes a tougher approach to subs, by adding £2 the following week if they fail to pay. Firm but fair. He added, “debts crush professional football clubs, let alone grassroots teams. Keep on top of money coming in and plan accordingly for bills that need to be paid”.

Swartmoor Social in action against Brinsworth Crusaders

A Kitlocker.com favourite, Paul Reed, who manages Staffordshire Arms FC has regularly taken the initiative when raising money for the club. Spot the ball, pub fundraisers, raffles (prizes donated from local businesses and friends) and race-nights. Ian regularly emails companies requesting assistance via prizes, with some success too, saying, “most companies are willing to help, even if it’s a £10 gift card”. Having someone in the team that can take the initiative when it comes to raising money goes a long way to alleviate the pressure of securing a pitch or match kit for the following season.

Achieving external sponsorship is always the end game for a lot of grassroots football teams. Check out our Why Sponsorship Does More Than Put Shirts On Backs post to find out more.

Communication is Key

Everyone has heard of Whatsapp or Facebook, both apps have a group messaging service that all players should be in, it’s the most effective and efficient way to communicate lineups, venues and meetup times. Being able to see who has read messages is a great indication into which players are interested in a training session, friendly or rendezvous down the pub.

Brinsworth Crusaders in action: Kitlocker.com Cup

Social media is a tool that you should be utilising, not only is it free, it’s a great way to share news and photos from games, something that potential sponsors, such as local businesses, will appreciate. Building up your followers to a respectable level will naturally help you secure funding from external sources. You only have to look at Palmers FC and SE DØNS to realise this, their meteoric rise in profile has given them some very unique and exciting opportunities.

Understanding the Dedication

If only we could turn up on a Sunday and just play.

There are lots of facets to running a club successfully which many are unaware of. League meetings, coordinating referees and speaking with opposition managers are all regular responsibilities. We might only be talking about a manager or secretary here, but players need to be aware that they’re integral to everything. Without them, there is no team. Turning up for training, regularly being available on matchdays and going for a pint at the pub (which put £500 into the club) should be seen as mandatory requirements.

Split the load. Other tasks, such as washing the kit after matchdays shouldn’t fall on a single person. Ian says, “take it in turns to wash the kit, the nominated player will complain for that week but they’ll only need to do it again once more that season”.

Staffordshire Arms FC have enjoyed promotions and cup wins since their birth four years ago. Reed puts their success down to having a good group of dedicated people, including players, spectators and staff at the pub they represent.

The Players

Whilst we firmly believe that winning isn’t everything, it does help with keeping players interested over the course of a season. But how do you a) attract players and b) improve on the players you already have? For many, grassroots football is a release, not a business, but some do have aspirations to be successful, winning titles and testing themselves at a higher level.

Palmers FC in action at the Kitlocker.com Cup

Keeping everyone happy when you’ve got 15, 16 or even 20 players on your books is no easy task. There is a fine line between picking a team to win and picking a team that turns up to training week in, week out. Aaron understands this, asking players to choose their starting 11 in a 442 formation. When he reveals the 11 the players have picked, almost all of them are different, emphasising the fact there is no right or wrong answer.

The key thing to remember is that you can’t keep everyone happy. Some players sulk when getting subbed off, even in the 85th minute.

The Final Whistle

Running a grassroots football team isn’t easy. It takes the right blend of time, energy and commitment for it to run smoothly. No doubt about it, there will be good times, on and off the pitch, but having someone who can navigate the challenges faced in this article is vital.

Prepping for a Sunday League match starts on a Monday for some. Whether it be running a training session, chasing subs or liaising with the opposition manager for the next fixture, there are plenty of day-to-day task that need to be taken care of.

Have your say. What actions do you take for your team for it to run successfully?

With thanks to Kitlocker.com customer’s Paul Reed (Staffordshire Arms FC), Ian Garrett (Brinsworth Crusaders) & Aaron Aston (Swarthmoor Social FC).