Five Things I’ve Learned In One Year Of: All Britball, All Day, Every Day. #5

Six hours in a cold London coach station between 2am and 8am gives a lot of time and incentive to reflect upon the decisions you’ve made and what you’ve learnt from making them. Thankfully, when your ‘job’ is a writer, self-reflection is almost the same as work.

One year in to taking a gamble on trying to make a life, and one day a living, waffling about British American Football, I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learnt in a quick mini-series.

First up, I learnt that at the heart of it all, are people.

Secondly, I realised  if you’re a fan of American Football in the UK, you’re living in a blessed time for the sport.

Third up, We’re barely scratching the surface of all the Britball we could be talking about!

Quattro: By the Power of Britball, We have the Power!

Numero… urr… Five.. -O? We’ve got it going on!

…But we’ve got a lot to learn – especially when it comes to showing off!

One area where we as a community really struggle, and maybe it’s a British thing, is when it comes to showing off all we’ve achieved.

When asked to shout about our accomplishments? Far too often either the will, or the means, are lacking… and it’s hurting us.

Dead websites, unchecked e-mail inboxes, un-updated Facebook pages – far too many programmes across the Britball Nation simply aren’t paying enough attention to aspects of being a sports club that are becoming more and more essential in the modern, social media saturated, society in which we live.

Let’s be clear, to many in the next generation of Britballers, if you, your programme or your team, don’t have a Facebook page? You essentially don’t exist.

Sure, for most this sport is about being able to rock up on a Sunday, knock the crap outta one another for a few hours, and tout your black and blue bruises like proud war scars throughout the following week.

However, season after season, time after time, it’s proven to us that unless a team – be that just the few who step up into committee roles, but ideally each and every member of a programme and their immediate circle of family and friends – focus on self-promotion, outreach, recruitment, etc, as a high priority? Then it might just be a few weeks into the season before you find yourselves unable to take to the pitch on a Sunday, because you don’t have enough players.

It’s the short-sighted focus on just getting into a position where we can step out onto the field on a Sunday that is stopping us from doing precisely that!

We saw a whole bunch of teams struggle for numbers this year, especially across the lower two tiers, and time and again you see a correlation between programmes who don’t spend enough time shouting about their existence, and those that have to skip a Sunday or more because they’ve taken too many injuries to field a safe-size squad.

Of course, there’s something of a two way relationship here: If you don’t have many members of your programme, you perhaps feel like you don’t have guys to spare for updating a website, running the Facebook page, filming games or sharing highlights? However, the only thing I can suggest? Is that you make time for PR, as a priority. You might miss out on one more player, or an extra coach, for a season or two? But their commitment to growing the club, and growing the game, will pay dividends down the line.

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There are of course outliers. The London Warriors are famous for being a tight knit, tight-lipped group that ‘go dark’ ahead of their biggest games… But then, when you’re a programme built upon a core of closely bonded individuals, headed up by some of the finest coaches and staff in the domestic game, and have multiple consecutive National Championships under your belts? Ok, maybe then you’re big enough to not need to put yourself out there.

Cooperation, coordination and communication are keys to growth – whether that’s ensuring you have, and keep up to date, a Facebook page, filming games (and sharing that film!), or  getting involved with your community through local schemes and partnerships.

We at DC do the best we can to show off everything that’s going on across the British American Football community, but as discussed earlier in this series we barely have the resources to scratch the surface. Ever wonder why no one’s giving your team praise for xyz achievement? Odds are, they probably didn’t know it ever happened.

Did you write about it? Did you put it on Facebook, and then share that Facebook post with BAFA, with AFI, with DC, with the Brit Blitz, with whoever, and then message them and nag them and ask if they can give it a share? (And then chase them again when they inevitably forget… apologies!)

We’re great at pointing the finger elsewhere when it comes to the struggles of the game in the UK, but rarely do we acknowledge that often we, as individuals, aren’t doing half of what we could be to contribute to the growth of our own teams, or the game as a whole. A couple of clicks, sharing posts, liking posts, or a few sentences summarising an achievement – all go further than you can imagine towards helping out your sport, your team, and ultimately your goal of running face first into someone each and every Sunday!

We’re living in a time where self-promotion is more accessible and more achievable than ever before… and more often than I’d like to see?

We’re failing at it.

 


 

It wasn’t my intent to finish this mini-series on a bit of a bum note, but in truth it’s something that we as a community do need to start putting a lot more effort into.

I’m hoping over the semi-lull between Summer Seasons and Uniball to get a chance to put a few hopefully-helpful articles together looking at social media, filming, and self-promotion in general… But in the mean time, you can do a lot worse than simply making sure you’re being ‘generous’ in your social media actions. If you read something and like what you’ve read? Share it, like it. Give a click to help the game grow.

I’ve got big plans for DC… or at least, big goals… And maybe we’ll get there or maybe we won’t. I hope those of you who’ve stuck it out reading this full mini-series have gained some insights into where DC are at, and ideally where we’re going…

It’s been a fun ride so far, and hollah to everyone I’ve met along the way.  The #BritballLife isn’t the easiest one, but I’m not ready to swap out of it any time soon if I can help it!

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Nick

Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1