I have entered a new and unfamiliar territory these last few months, with my introduction to Twitter. I didn’t really see the point before, and thought of it as quite gimmicky, but I have actually found it to be quite a great source of information, as well as a way of interacting with people with similar interests, as you are able to “tweet” at them. I will leave the explanation for another day.
That being said, I experienced my first tweet chat (I’m not even sure if that’s what it is called) the other day. It’s basically a dialogue with others on a subject. The tweet chat I was involved with was the WPS chat, as they were talking about an article by Shek Borkowski, in a recent issue of a magazine I write for called Our Game Magazine (www.ourgamemagazine.com) Go to the website and sign up for the mailing list, you won’t be disappointed!
Anyways, as part of this webchat, a few interesting topics of conversation came up. Keep in mind again, that you are basically dialoguing, with people that you have never met on a certain topic. We started talking about the expectations of pro players to do work out in the community in terms of publicizing. I thought it was quite an interesting discussion. What is our role as players to promote our game? Do players do enough? Are we utilized properly and effectively?
From my experience, I think the piece of the puzzle that is missing in women’s soccer is connecting the elite female player at the grassroots level. This was never more evident, than a clinic we ran here in Connecticut, 2 hours away from WPS teams in New Jersey and Boston, and NOT ONE of the approx 100 female players at the clinic knew what the women’s pro league was called.
That being said, that takes time to go out and build relationships. I know I personally, love connecting with little kids and feel honoured to be a role model. I have other friends that are not so enamoured with the coaching side of things, and would rather just play. To each their own.
So as players, what exactly is our role to promote Our Game (insert magazine plug, right here :)) I think most players agree that making a connection with the community is important and would do a clinic here and there to get the word out there. Someone brought up ego into the discussion in the wpschat: that a lot of players have egos and don’t think that they should have to put the time into doing the work at the grassroots level to get fans to games.
I think the most important thing is to have things orchestrated in a professional manner. When you sign to be on a team, it is in the contract, that you must participate in x amount of clinics. When players arrive at these clinics, there is organization and their role is clearly defined as well as the time that they are spending doing this.
I personally think most female players, especially when it is explained, see the value in doing the promotion at the grassroots level. I think the problem is when people feel that they didn’t agree to do something or that their time isn’t being respected. Often times I have seen teams as well use the “lower ranking” people on the team to do these kind of duties and these players feeling they have to do them if they want a shot of playing time etc, which is totally unprofessional, and which again, does nothing for motivation.
If teams want to run a professional operation, make sure that all facets of the operation are professional. Make it clear to players that this is the expectation if they are on the team as it is a crucial part of the growth of the club; that is a part of the salary they are receiving, as important as going to practice each day. If it’s presented upfront and clearly as part of the job, I really can’t see players having any problems doing such things, as making that connection really is crucial to help the game grow.