Tuesday, 11 June 2013

How can the club attract more Junior Cherries?

Last weeks blog on "To what extreme would you go to support AFCB?" only goes to prove that we are not all here forever and it is really important for AFCB to encourage our youngsters to get them inspired enough to come down to Dean Court and follow the team.

Serena Stone and her team can be justifiably proud of their NPower League One award-winning achievements in building the support of young club members. While the club reached 1500 Junior Cherry members last February we can expect that figure to have risen with the number of new Family stand season ticket holders for 2013-14.

Successes have included

- The Family Days with extra attractions outside the ground with competitions and a lower entrance fees.
- pre-match games under the Main stand

- Match day food packs
- Player visits to schools and learning establishments in the local community
- Christmas cards with players' signatures

- Half time penalty shoot outs against Cherry Bear
- The newsletters and competitions in the Red&Black programme
- Spalshdown discount

- Club shop discount
- Soccer schools
- Mascot experience.

I am sure there are many other things the club offers as well. 
The question is how can the club attract even more youngsters? Football has to compete with many other attractions and expenses and while the club is doing well it must look to grab every opportunity to feed off this success by pulling in new supporters. I have been asking my two Junior Cherries what more the club could offer to get boys and girls of their age to come more regularly or what would excite them? 

We came up with a double strategy: firstly, ideas to attract new Junior Cherries and secondly ways to keep them interested in the club.

Attracting new members

- A special monthly radio programme on Hot Radio for Junior Cherries where they get to express their views and speak with the players 
- Career Days. If children can see that there are different careers to be made in football then it might open their minds to more opportunities. We now have so much to see in terms of the radio station, gym and training pitches as well as physio equipment, changing rooms and the media department.
- Stadium Tours to become more of a regular opportunity offered to classes from local schools and youth groups.

Keeping Junior Cherries entertained
Half-time entertainment I know is something that the club is looking at. A few different game ideas could be tried:
- A SoccerAM-style shoot out with a hardboard cover on the goal with target holes cut out for Junior Cherries to shoot from League 1 to the Champions League.
- Football bowling with Junior Cherries and parents trying to kick a ball near to a target coloured ball or into a target area of the pitch to win a signed shirt or other prize. I saw something like this at Swindon a couple of years ago.
- Could we get one of those large human table football pitches in? Might take too long to set up at half time but perhaps pre-match.
- Sumo wrestling suit race, dribble around cones before shooting like Superstars football.

To attract new junior members we have to also encourage parents as its the adults that need to bring the children to the ground and supervise them. Many adults may still need to be convinced that a match day is a very different experience to what it was say 10 years ago.

I think we should encourage existing Junior Cherries to give more feedback about what they like or don't like. Something could be set up online with a kids ask the club/player a question section. Are there any computer programmers out there who could make an AFCB computer football game for Junior Cherries as well? Perhaps a MySims type of game where you grow your club's support by various means. I'd better get copyright on that one.

It's important to realise that children can come up with great ideas and have far more imagination than us adults. They also tend to know what they like. So I hope the club asks them for their thoughts more often. If you or your Junior Cherries have some great ideas why not send them to the club's liaison officer?


  1. I think the club do really well for JCs at the moment and structure it in a way that is likely to create a number of lifelong fans.

    My son's 7 and for £6 a year he gets his season ticket free and a free shirt on this 8th birthday. When it comes to renewing our season tickets next year, he'll have experienced a season of games and have something physical to act as a reminder and/or help him identify as an AFCB fan even more.

    At the current prices, it'll be £50 for his ticket next season (plus £6 JC membership), which I still think is great value.

    As much as all the novelties help, I think making it affordable really is important and the club have done that.

    1. I agree that the club offers great value for Junior Cherries I just want us to win more local young children and their parents over, rather than them feeling that the Premier League is all there is.

  2. wow thats good do AFCB give them a free shirt every year ?

    If so it must be quite costly - HOWEVER a fantastic way to build loyalty and actually works out fairly cheap as far as marketing costs go.


    1. The club gives Junior Cherries a shirt on their eight birthday.

  3. Need to run tickets for a pound at schools more, don't think afcb have been to my sons school yet, loads of footie kids up there. Just need to get them up there once, then if at least half come back job done!