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How sponsoring junior sport can build a community like no other

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Gone are the days when sponsoring a junior sports team meant a few logos on a boundary fence and not much more.

Now, Canberra’s junior sports clubs are offering partnerships that extend far beyond visual recognition, to mutually beneficial relationships that nourish communities on both sides.

This is the message that will be delivered at the free Junior Sport Sponsorship Online Summit, which will take place on Tuesday 22 September at 6 pm.

Presented by The Brand Builders this event, aimed at junior sports clubs and local businesses, is provided under the Healthier Choices Canberra program, an ACT Government funded initiative.

The summit is part of a broader campaign to reduce the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks to kids. It will cover areas such as how to approach the concept of sponsorship, build attractive packages, connect in with suitable sponsors and address why these partnerships are so important in the first place.

“Our main focus for this event is to raise awareness about the opportunities that exist for sports clubs but also for businesses,” explains Vickie Saunders of The Brand Builders.

“There is value to be exchanged—and we’re not talking logo placement. It’s more around what sports clubs can do to help businesses—whether that’s to help them grow their social media and become more visible in the community, or to get their staff more actively involved in sport for their wellbeing, and team building activities.”

The key to opening up sponsorship opportunities Vickie explains is to think outside the box—on both sides of the agreement.

“[Ideally], junior sport can approach really different businesses than they may have traditionally, because a collaborative approach means you’re offering real value to those businesses, their operations, their marketing and their community engagement.”

The event will be held for just one hour, delivering a fast-paced and information-packed line-up of expert speakers, including Shantelle Thompson, Indigenous Athlete and Businesswoman,  Andrew Topp, Group Business Manager of Capital Chemist, and Warren Apps, Director of Coordinate, Canberra’s largest communication agency.

“It’s easy to build awareness if you have money—but building respect and brand loyalty is another kettle of fish,” says Warren. “By partnering with junior sports clubs what you’re actually unlocking is an emotional connection with an audience. And that emotional connection is powerful for brands.”

As a Director of Coordinate, Warren liaises with some of Canberra’s biggest businesses and has seen firsthand how sponsorship can benefit them. And as a former Director for the CBR Brave ice hockey team, he’s also seen how sponsorships from the right organisations can help foster mutual respect across sporting communities.

“I’ve always thought of community sport as an incredible asset. They have incredible reach into families, it’s an uncluttered marketing environment and it’s a great way for businesses to support their local community while also growing their brands in a world where the marketing mix is increasingly cluttered. There’s enormous capacity for junior sport to recognise this and leverage it.”

This is exactly the type of support The Pod Canberra wanted to lend when they began their sponsorship journey. The local start-up, which creates chic and environmentally friendly granny flats, was founded by father-daughter duo Robert and Jacki Valk, who saw junior sport sponsorship as a way to give back, while building their brand.

“We want to be a trusted brand in Canberra,” says Jacki. “Being a father-daughter ‘down to earth’ kind of business we want to be known in Canberra as that, and we wanted to be more involved in our local community and support the upcoming generation in achieving their dreams.”

“From my experience, team sports and hobbies can provide amazing growth and opportunities for younger generations and for us to be involved in that process, would be wonderful.”

For Jacki, the benefits of sponsoring a local junior sports club are numerous.

“The mutual benefits we see also relate to helping each other and sharing that knowledge in business across marketing, social media, websites, getting found online and raising awareness—not just a financial sponsorship agreement. We at The Pod Canberra feel this can also be of great benefit to the wider Canberra community to support local businesses and junior sport during this challenging time.”

As for businesses who feel they’re a bit too small or new to take on a junior sport sponsorship, Vickie encourages them to keep an open mind.

“Think about the areas of your businesses that you spend money or time on, such as social media, content creation, sales, advertising, community engagement, staff wellbeing—junior sport can contribute to those.”

“You will be able to find ways to save time and money—or even generate financial profit—from sponsorship. It’s not just plonking your logo on something and hoping you get sales. It’s more sophisticated than that. It’s more of a partnership than just a transaction.”

Businesses and sports who attend the summit will also have the opportunity to find out more about being involved in Healthier Choices Canberra’s wider activations and network and future opportunities for collaboration.

Visit act.gov.au/healthierchoices for more information.


What: Junior Sport Sponsorship Online Summit
When: Tuesday 22 September at 6 pm
Where: Online, via Zoom
Cost: Free
Registration: us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_66wJSbVKTfG-CXmmfWBmdA


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