Ask caregivers to fill out applications or simple entry forms for girls who want to join your sport programme. This provides written consent and ensures that the organisation has contact information in case of an emergency. If photos will be taken of girls during training, make sure to include this in the consent form, as in some cases photos compromise the personal safety of participants.
Step 1: Identify the Potential Participant
When designing a sport programme, it’s critical to first identify the girls who will be targeted by the program. Who do you want to participate? Why do you want them to participate? Is this girl from a rural or urban environment? How far away from the programme headquarters or playing grounds does she live? How old is she? Is she HIV-affected? Does she have a disability? Does she have caretaking duties within her family that might restrict her participation? Is she in school or does her family have enough money to send her? Clear identification of the characteristics of the “type” of girl you are looking builds a solid foundation for serving her.
Step 2: Assess Capacity
Once you have identified who will most benefit most from your programme, evaluate the programme’s capacity for participation. How many girls can the infrastructure accommodate? Consider availability of coaches, time, space, uniforms, food, permits and all other necessary resources. Be realistic. Overestimating how many girls you can serve can result in participants not experiencing the full benefits of participation. You can always recruit more girls or rely on girls to bring their friends if your numbers are low. However, it’s very difficult to turn girls that you’ve recruited away if you find that you have overestimated your capacity.
Step 3: Create and Execute a Strategy
Recruiting girls for your programme can be extremely challenging. It’s unlikely that you will just walk up to an informal game of football and find large numbers of girls waiting to join your sport programme. For reasons of safety and gender-dictated responsibilities, girls are more likely to be closer to home than boys, who are often free to roam about. It helps to have a clear, intentional plan for how you are going to identify and recruit girls.
Effective strategies are based on knowing exactly who you want to reach, where she is, what will motivate her to participate, and who makes decisions for her if she is not permitted to make them for herself. Once you identify these factors, devise a creative approach for reaching your potential participants. Every programme’s recruiting strategy will be unique. For some, creating an after-school partnership with a local primary school is all the strategizing that needs to be done. For others, finding a team of participants might require months of going door-to-door, building relationships with community leaders, caregivers and girls.