Aberavon Harlequins RFC is based in Port Talbot and sits within the 10% of the most socially deprived areas in Wales. The club has had little investment through funding and having no assets and being unable to demonstrate regular income, the club have been unable to obtain bank loan facilities. Alongside this the current economic climate and the downturn in the local steelworks had severely affected the club’s ability to attract sponsors.
Currently the club fields only two sides; a Senior XV and a Youth side. Prior to the commencement of the 2014/15 season, the Senior XV had not won a fixture in any competition for two seasons and has been relegated twice in succession. Following various mass defections of players in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014, the club has struggled to both recruit players and regularly fulfil its fixtures at the appointed time.
In contrast, the Youth team is one of the most successful in Wales and were the Ospreys Region Youth ‘A’ League and Cup double winning champions; WRU Welsh Cup semi-finalists, and WRU National Youth League Champions Cup Winners.
The club has 4 major objectives:-
- To recruit new players by demonstrating it is a well-run and well governed club with clear and realistic objectives.
- To consistently maintain the recruitment of well-trained coaches, referees, medical service providers and volunteers.
- To work hard to integrate with the local community and provide a sporting focal point for all of its ambitions.
- To develop effective and efficient facilities.
Unfortunately following years of neglect and little investment the club is faced with poor facilities that is making is very difficult for them to achieve the above objectives. For example they have;
- Poor changing facilities which are very small, particularly for visiting teams, with inadequate space, toilet and showering amenities.
- Floodlights which are in desperate need of overhaul and maintenance.
- Dilapidated external containers and cabins that serve as storage for rugby equipment and provide medical and physio facilities. However these not fit for purpose and a major health hazard.
- A collapsed major drainage ditch which runs alongside the pitch. This has caused numerous games and training sessions to be cancelled due to large pools of standing water making the pitch unplayable during periods of heavy or sustained rainfall.
Based on the above and other developments the club wished to pursue they require funding;
- For immediate and emergency work to repair, remedy and make good the floodwater drains on the perimeter of the playing pitch to allow training to be held and matches to be played
- To allow the overhaul and upgrade of the floodlighting
- For new changing facilities to replace the existing ones
- For Phase 1, 2 and 3 of the drainage work, renovation and end of season work
- To deliver coaching programmes for local schools and holiday provision
- To skill up existing and future coaches at the club
The club recognised that it was in a serious predicament, allowing itself to amble perilously close to extinction and that that outcome still remained a very real and likely scenario should the club be unable to obtain the funds they required. They also recognised that a funding review was necessary and therefore appointed Funding 4 Sport to produce a funding strategy for the club.
The point of the Funding Strategy was to;
- Horizon Scan future funding streams
- To bring in more money from existing funders and other sources of income
- To identify new funders and new sources of income
- To secure continued funding for existing work as well as bringing in funds for new projects and developments
- Capture existing funding deadlines and timeframes associated with these to secure continued funding of the programmes
- To increase the security of their club by attracting funding from a number of sources – increasing and developing our funding mix
- To make best use of your limited resources
To do this we developed a 3 year Funding Strategy that looked at the current ‘Funding Opportunities’ available to the club, how best suited the club was to these funders and the items they required funding for, whether these funders had funded the club in the past and the likelihood of them obtaining funding from these funders in the future.
Based on the above we identified the possible funding sources the club could apply for, providing a table of funding opportunities that included;
- The Funder
- The Amount (maximum and minimum level of grant or award)
- Funding Criteria
- Funding Deadlines
- Priority Level – Where we viewed this as a High, Medium or Low priority for the club
We then produced a ‘Funding Action Plan’ that included;
- Which sources of funding we would target
- Who would be responsible for completing these funding applications
- When they would be completed by
Finally we created a ‘Funding Planner’ so the club could see;
- When the Funding Streams opened
- When each funding application would be written
- The Funding deadline
- When the Club would be likely to be notified whether the application has been successful
By developing the Funding Strategy Aberavon Harlequins RFC is prioritising their strategic funding approach and making the best use of their time when planning ahead and targeting particular funders to ensure the sustainability of their club.