Creating a Policy

Why are policies important?

Clubs need policies for a number of reasons. Policies formalise and document the club's rules and procedures and they can be used as a reference in case a dispute or a controversial incident occurs.

Policies also provide a how-to guide for the committee and members and is particularly useful when new committee members or volunteers come on board. Documented policies and procedures are critical components to a football club's risk management plan.

Which policies are important?

Any policy that improves the quality of your club is important. Your club should consider implementing the following polices if you haven't already:

  • Racial and Religious Tolerance Policy
  • Smoke Free Policy
  • Alcohol Management Policy
  • Team Selection Policy
  • Players Code of Conduct
  • Parents and Supporters Code of Conduct
  • Issue Resolution Policy
  • Privacy Policy
  • AFL Coaches Code of Conduct (mandatory for accredited coaches)
  • Make sure the club enforces its policies, otherwise there is no point having them
  • Make a policy visible by placing signs in the club rooms, change rooms and around the ground. This way it can always be referred to
  • Remember football clubs attract a lot of new people so you will continually need to promote your policies
Creating and implementing a policy

This simple process will help you develop and implement a policy in your club.

1. Assess the current situation
Does the policy already exist? If so, is it written? Is the policy enforced? Does it need updating?

Conduct a survey or discussion of patrons and members to assess their support for the policy. The consultation with members will also help to identify possible resistance to change.

2. Get the support of your management committee
Place the policy on the agenda for the next committee meeting. Get a resolution passed, or propose a working party. Highlight reasons why your club needs the policy. Prior to the committee meeting, provide as much information as possible to committee members. Such information may include facts directly related to the policy. For example, if you are looking at developing a smokefree policy, provide facts about passive smoking, outline the legal issues, or examples of other smokefree organisations.

3. Drafting your policy
The following points are usually found in a good policy:

  • The reasons why your club is implementing the policy. Be sure to highlight any legal importance or health concerns related to the policy
  • When the policy comes into effect
  • Who is responsible for enforcing the policy
  • What to do if people ignore the policy
  • What type of penalties your club will issue to those who breach the policyWhat is the standard code of behaviour for players, coaches, volunteers and officials when they are representing your club
  • What is the policy on junior sport

4. Developing a non-compliance strategy
A non-compliance strategy tells a person what to do if someone ignores or breaches the policy. This strategy should form part of your club's overall policy. The strategy should follow a simple step-by-step process and be easy to follow.

5. Promote the new policy
The timing and manner of introducing your policy is important. The beginning of a new season is usually a good time to introduce the new policy. Promote the policy's start date to all members, patrons, supporters and spectators. Giving advanced notice will give people time to get used to the change and will help to avoid possible resistance.

Consider using the following mediums to help promote your club's new policy:

  • Signs
  • Table signage
  • Notice boards
  • Newsletters
  • Advertisements in event programs
  • Promotion in direct mail
  • Websites
  • Pre and post game/competition speeches
  • Public announcements
  • Notice on membership application forms
  • Distribution of a sheet with commonly asked questions and answers
  • Explanation by president/chairperson/senior coach to members
  • Formal letter to captains, senior players, and other influential people in your club encouraging them to support the change and act as role models
  • Be sure to promote the new policy, as silent policy is often useless policy

6. Educate staff/volunteers
Staff and volunteers must also know about the policy. Staff/volunteer manuals, handbooks and orientation programs should acknowledge your club's policies. It is also a good idea to hold a training session to educate existing staff and volunteers about the new policy. Remember to:

  • Ensure all staff/volunteers attend
  • Describe to staff/volunteers the reasons why your club has implemented the policy
  • Discuss when and where the policy will be implemented
  • Describe the role that staff/volunteers play in implementing the policy
  • Educate staff/volunteers about the non-compliance strategy and what to do if someone breaches the policy
  • Remind staff/volunteers that it is their role to point out that your club has implemented the policy
  • Discuss the concerns and feelings of the staff/volunteers
  • Remind staff and volunteers that management is ultimately responsible for writing, implementing and enforcing the policy.

7. Review your policy
Set dates to review your policy. This is very important when the policy is first introduced. It is a good idea to review the policy six months after it has been introduced. Seek feedback on how the policy can be changed to make it more effective. Ask the following questions:

  • Are people following the new policy?
  • Are the signs and promotional material effective?
  • Do staff/volunteers need more training?
  • Is the non-compliance strategy working?

Over time things will also change within your club. Be sure that the policy is kept up to date.

For more information on policies and procedures download the AFL Club Management Program - Risk Management.

Year of Birth
This is Our Game
2017 AFL International Cup