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I’m organising the club awards evening – how can I make it go without a hitch?
End-of-season awards evenings can be fraught with difficulties. It can both motivate and demotivate key players and stakeholders and create unwanted divisions.
If you are planning to give out awards at the end of your seasons, take these ideas into account.
01 MANAGE EXPECTATIONS
We live in a culture of awards, rewards and competition. Most players are involved in institutions that recognise individual success. Why shouldn’t your rugby team be any different?
However you decide on your awards, you should tell players before the start of the season what you are going to do and you might weigh the relative merits of each case.
As the season continues, mention the criteria again, so players can aspire to the award. But do it generally rather than specifically to any one player. This ensures individuals don’t show off or decide to stop trying.
02 CHANGE THE SEASONS
An award at the end of the season looks back rather than forward. Why not consider having a mid-season award ceremony that might give some players something shorter term to aim at. It might be a little lower key, like at the Christmas party.
Examples could be medals for training attendance or outstanding efforts against the odds. These can quite easily go to the non-stars in the team who still glue the side together.
03 REWARD EFFORT AND ACHIEVEMENT
When you think about the amount of build-up you make for each award, spend more time on those which reward effort. Yes, make reference to top points-scorers and try scorers, recognise those who might have had representative honours. However, help all remember that it’s a team game.
Therefore, you can weave in lines like: “We are very proud that Simon represented the county this season. It’s an honour that our team was able to provide a player. It also reflects all the hard work that Simon puts in week-in, week-out for us.”
And, when you line up your medals and cups, more should be for effort than achievement.
04 KEEP CALM AND MAKE IT REAL
An awards event has to be a celebration of what’s good about your team. Even if you’ve had a tough season, it can still be an important part of creating the environment for next season.
If you simply hand out awards for insignificant reasons, players will soon see through the process. Shortlists are a good way to recognise more than one player.
Avoid long speeches about each player. Sometimes, a quick explanation of the award will do, honourable mentions to the shortlist and then announce the player.
05 POLITICAL AWARDS NEVER MAKE SENSE
Some star players expect star status. If you feel you need to reward that player with an award to keep him at the club then you are making a rod for your own back. Are you going to do the same again next season? And, should he leave because he hasn’t received the award, then it shows that he’s not understood the team message.
Of course, all players will receive praise over the year. An award is the icing on the cake, not the main reason for playing for the team.