More democracy, more solidarity, more fan involvement! The SD Europe Fund channels resources directly to supporters organisations and member-run football clubs to develop their own projects to build a better football.
In a three-part series, one year on from the launch of the SD Europe Fund, we now touch base with the projects which were able to proceed despite the pandemic to receive an update on their progress.
The first project in focus is SD Scotland’s ‘Volunteering: Broadening Impact & Strengthening Community Links’. More information about the project can be found here. We spoke to SD Scotland’s CEO Alan Russel about the project.
Who are SD Scotland? Founded as a democratic ‘Community Benefit Society’, Supporters Direct Scotland is a democratic and representative body of Scottish community owned clubs, supporters trusts and supporters in general, working to protect, promote and further their interests with governing bodies of Scottish football and other stakeholders.’
What is the importance of completing the project, albeit with compromises owed to the pandemic?
“Our project, a study of volunteering in Scottish football, was originally intended as a face-to-face project where we would bring people from different clubs together to explore the topic and identify best practices. Rather than delaying the project until this type of activity was possible again, we felt that it was important to continue – the impact of clubs and their volunteers’ activity was even more critical to their communities during the pandemic.”
What compromises did you have to make to the project activities because of the pandemic?
“In conversation with key stakeholders we identified a cross-section of football clubs with distinctive approaches to volunteer management, or whose community programmes were having a particularly high impact, and approached them directly to conduct remote interviews. This gave us a set of case studies which aligned with the theoretical review of volunteer management processes we conducted in parallel.”
How would summarise the success of the project so far?
“We have been able to capture stories that demonstrate the impact of volunteers on Scottish football and Scottish society during one of the most challenging periods in our lifetimes. These stories allow us to illustrate perfectly the aspects of best practice that are vital for clubs to function. Most of the objectives we set out to achieve have been met… unfortunately our aims of connecting clubs in a community of practice have not been possible, but this is something we can revisit later.”
What will be the next steps following the conclusion of the project?
“We will publish the final project report in the next few weeks, and when we are able to engage with clubs face-to-face we will produce a series of articles and videos to help publicise the report. This will allow us to reach a different audience via social media, and invite further conversations with more clubs about their own volunteering practices and challenges.”
Next up, we turn attention to the national supporters organisation in Germany, Unsere Kurve.
You can find out more about the SD Europe Fund here.