Friday, June 10, 2011

Throwing Down the Gauntlet - But Lets Aim First

Ben Rycroft over Canadian Soccer News has put together an excellent article calling on the local clubs, in particular the Oakville Soccer Club, to come out and get their members out to support the Canadian national team when they are playing in Toronto.

He has laid out a well thought out plan and the only sticking point to me is the following:

The vast majority of consumers in our clubs DO NOT and NEVER WILL CARE about the Canadian national teams. They are there and involved so there child has an activity on Monday and Thursday to round out the myriad of other life "experiences" it seems people want their children to be exposed to by the age of 12 these days. Even if you gave them a ticket to go see the game there is large cahnce they would not go in any case.

Now that is not to say that the clubs should not attempt to encourage participation of their members but the reality is that if ANY club decided to cancel that night's U6 and U8 house league games involving hundreds if not thousands of potential fans - they would be crucified for their decision. The hard core members would go if encouraged but probably they are already going in any case.

One thing, maybe the only thing, that TFC has gotten right is they did not rely on marketing to the mom and pop brigade (the default option) but instead focused on the young adult crowd of players and wannabees and it paid off handsomely. Think back and think of the marketing they did initially even if they've gotten away from it somewhat now.

The challenge is getting these people interested enough to turn away if even briefly from their cultural and club allegiances to support THEIR national team even if just for one game with hopes that the love affiar would blossom over time.

Unfortunately our team has struggled on the field and usually in far off places for years and the marketing (what marketing there has been) by the CSA has focused on the a game and is very short term in scope and scale and has not focused on the individual.

Most people, excluding those who read this and any (every) other Canadian soccer blog could not name one player from the team - not one - and therefore they have no or very little interest in even paying attention let alone spending money to watch the team. They have no vested or vicarious interest.

To care people need have a personal interest and to have a personal interest they need personal attachments and investments. We need stars and heroes, even manufactured ones at this point, to get people interested - first the larger population of general soccer fans and then the next generation of players and fans.

The kids who are keen will drag their parents to a game - the parent with little interest compounded by a child with little interest - will not attend no matter how much marketing you do or if the ticket is free.

What you suggest is good but you've got to aim at the 20% in the clubs who care not the 80% who do not or you're just wasting precious resources.

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