For many rowing clubs out there, competition and winning is the main goal, but rowing is just as much about fun as it is winning. Many people join clubs to enjoy themselves, meet new people, participate in the club atmosphere and enjoy the thrill of competition at their own level. And the truth is many of these people end up giving up their time to volunteer at these clubs. Sadly too many sports now are focusing only on ideal body shape and discarding everyone else but the truth is, without club volunteers assisting in coaching, club management/organisation and fund raising, there would be no club for the ‘elite athletes’ to be a part of. We need to encourage other people to start joining rowing clubs and the first step to this is making sure your club has a healthy and inclusive environment.

A healthy and inclusive club gives everyone a fair go regardless of age, race, gender and ability. Welcoming and inclusive sporting environments are those that ensure everyone; participants, coaches, officials, administrators, spectators or any other person involved in, or visiting the club, is made to feel welcome, included, and valued.

But, an inclusive club doesn’t just fall together overnight; it takes planning and steps to create the inclusive environment. Here are some easy first steps you can take to create a welcoming and inclusive club environment. Many of these ideas take little time and effort you may simply need to educate members about expectations of what it means to be an inclusive club.

  • Use this checklist to find out how inclusive your club is currently
  • Promoting the club to the broader community (e.g. through local community centres, radio, newspapers, schools)
  • Developing specific programs that meet your community’s needs and recognise its diversity (e.g. targeting women, older people, people with disabilities, newly arrived migrants)
  • Sharing club rooms and facilities with other community groups
  • Encouraging people from all demographics to get involved at the committee level
  • Scheduling meetings and events at family friendly times
  • Encouraging members to undertake non traditional roles (e.g. women as coaches)
  • Supporting staff by providing appropriate training (e.g. cultural or disability awareness training for coaches)
  • Offering both competitive and social opportunities for participation
  • Having flexible practices (e.g. modifying games or uniform requirements)
  • Making participation affordable (e.g. pooling transport, second hand uniforms,  minimising fees)
  • Displaying messages about expected standards of behaviour in prominent
  • Locations (e.g. in club rooms and change rooms, through newsletters and on  the club website)
  • Acting promptly to address any inappropriate behaviour (e.g. racist, sexist jokes, making fun of religious practices

To help get your club on its way to becoming more inclusive, here are some great fund raising ideas