Sport in the community

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


We are a new American Football team, based in Worcestershire.
We have identified that despite good attendances at our taster sessions, the combined cost of subscriptions and playing equipment is not affordable to most players. Our project therefore is to increase participation by being able to provide playing equipment to new first year players.
In early 2015 following adverts on social media and in local news papers the Worcestershire Black Knights AFC project was initiated to provide an opportunity to play American Football within Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
According to census results this catchment area holds approximately 30,000 people of our targeted age, 18-40 years old. It is therefore realistic to aim to attract 10-20 new players a year.
During 2016 the team has grown to 54 registered players, and attracted a coaching staff of 7, all of whom have previous playing and/or coaching experience, and hold Level 1 coaching qualifications.
We have found that by increasing the opportunity to participate, most of the new players have taken an interest into off-season fitness at local gyms.
The club has also attracted a number of players who had left the area to attend university, but return home for the summer. This represents a potential to retain people within a competitive sports environment whilst at University. However these players are loaned playing equipment whilst at University, but will require the club to provide playing kit if they are to continue with our club. The geographic location of the team also has many major technical employers who attract postgraduate students into the area. The team has found that postgraduates, with experience of playing American Football at University, are looking to continue their involvement with the game once they are in employment but will be reliant on the club providing equipment in order to continue.
Since the initial team start up, the club has conducted 6 new player events over the last 2 years; Each event has attracted 30-40 potential new players. As well as these sessions the club regularly sees 2-3 new potential players a month at our weekly training sessions.
However the sport is expensive to play once in the organised league (circa £12,000 per season) predominantly due to travel costs and home fixture expenses, and this is entirely funded through monthly player subscriptions. Therefore we have found that whilst attracting large new players, the cost of subscriptions (£200 Per Season) plus playing kit (circa £250) is prohibitive, resulting in an average retention of only 8-11 new players from each event. Feedback from the potential players who have not signed up has confirmed that if playing kit was available then the subscriptions would be affordable and we would have achieved closer to 70% retention.
The teams aim for 2017 is to be accepted into the national league. Here the level of competition is greatly increased and it becomes vital that the club can invest in specific training equipment to provide the necessary skills to enable the players to achieve their potential. The availability of this equipment will further enhance the attractiveness of the organisation to new players.
With help from Aviva, we can raise the funds to purchase sufficient quantities of the crucial safety equipment required which will in turn enable us to provide opportunities to more players who wish to experience the sport, and increase new player participation. This will be the top priority of any funding provided, where we will purchase 25 sets of mandated player safety equipment in a variety of sizes to cover any new players. The new training and playing equipment will enable us to increase the number of new players joining the team, many of which will be people who will be taking up sport for the first time since leaving education.

Worcestershire Black Knights American Football Club

Location: Worcestershire, United Kingdom

In 18 months and with very little money we have been able to fulfill the ambition and desire of 54 people who want to play American Football. To see the club play 2 games this season and win 1 of them, was an incredible achievement, and a very emotional day for all.
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