Whether for amateurs or semi-professionals, for cadets or veterans, for a few teams or more, organising a good football tournament is not an easy task. That’s why we wanted to give you some useful tips to help you when you are organising one.
Where and when to organise a football tournament
The first two basic factors will be the date(s) and venue for hosting the football championship. First, though, we must choose the perfect venue as this will influence available dates.
The footy field can be municipal or private. It will be necessary to speak with the City or Local Council or the organisation that manages the private pitch (e.g. Football Club) to book the day or days of the tournament. It is vital, though, that you plan ahead and ensure you have left enough time to select the dates you need. Pitches can book up well in advance so don’t leave it too late!
Once you have the dates when the pitch is available, you need to choose dates that also allow sufficient time to promote the event, that allows for holiday periods (e.g. School Holiday, Easter) and that makes sure you can get match officials (whether volunteers or paid officials). And watch out for other big events! Whether these are within the same Town or City where you are organising the tournament or in the wider region that may impact teams coming from further afield.
It would not be the first time something has been organised without considering these other factors and then the dates clash with another popular event causing a major catastrophe!
Prepare the website
If we want to organize a football tournament today, it will be essential to have a website (for larger events) or at least a very good social media page (e.g. on Facebook) with all the details of:
- The tournament rules for entry and for playing the matches
- Standard and experience of the teams suited to the event (e.g. adult, youth or kids)
- Dates and times
- Parking (this can be a nightmare if you get this wrong!)
- Contact Information
You should add an online registration system to make the booking process less time consuming, in addition to the possibility of real-time game tracking and a gallery. Remember that social media is incredible for interacting with your audience but a website offers you complete freedom to display all the relevant information that is easiest for the user or visitor. Obviously, the ideal approach is to link the website with your social media!
As we have said, automating the process of Registration online would be best to avoid you having to constantly answers emails and phone calls! However, we realise you will be thinking of the most important thing when organising a football tournament – the registration fee!
You have a couple of options here. Firstly, calculate all expected expenses and divide it by the number of teams you can host. This way everything would be supported by the teams. However, think about what you will do if you have unexpected costs or teams cancel and want a refund. You don’t want to incur more costs than the revenue you bring in!
However, to help ensure you have enough money, you may want to consider bringing on board a sponsor or sponsors who are able to contribute to the initial set-up and overrun costs. You can also invite others to contribute, of course (e.g. advertisers, catering facilities, etc). You can also raise additional funds yourself by charging for hospitality and refreshment (think about health and safety though), promotional items and memorabilia(e.g. wristbands, hoodies, caps, coffee mugs).
Search for key Sponsors
A football tournament usually has great visibility and hopefully lots of support. The friends and family that each player will bring to the event, the general public and other interested parties (e.g. football scouts, local press). So that for any organisation that is trying to promote its brand or key message, it is very attractive to be able to sponsor the event and pay for the privilege!
Get creative though when looking for sponsors. You will be surprised who would be willing to pay for the privilege even if they have only limited involvement in football. They may still want to support the event as it shows they are socially aware and willing to support local communities.
But where do we promote the Sponsors? Well, the classic would be in posters or advertising banners in and around the venue. Even in the parking area! You can also use personalised promotional items (e.g. customs Pin Badges, Fabric and Silicone Wristbands, Pens, Caps, Umbrellas, Picnic mats) and include space on our website and Social media pages to highlight the support of sponsors.
And a great possibility would still be creating our own personalised soccer kit, hoodies, tracksuit or cap and include it in the registration package. You see this all the time with large football clubs so why not do the same! You can easily include the sponsors’ logo and branding in the design. This will not only promote your event and the sponsor at the football tournament but potentially for months and years afterwards!
Types of soccer tournaments
When organising the football tournament, the type of competition or matches will influence the duration of the event and whether you accept more or less participating teams. You have the option of pure knockout and straight elimination, a league structure or a combination of both, as in the case of professional European competitions like the Champions League.
It is the fastest and cheapest type of tournament, although less fair since a team can have a very bad game in the first round and have no further participation. The good thing is that you don’t need many fields or much time. If we have teams of different levels in different groups, try to balance both sides of the groups otherwise, you could find a final of one of the worst teams against the strongest, which would potentially demoralise one and not be great for spectators!
With this option, the teams all play against each other so it’s fair system with winner being the team with the most points and goal difference if needed. It does, though, require greater availability of football pitches and time, as it will take longer than a straightforward knockout. The good thing is that the matches can be tied and there is no need to resort to extra time or penalties.
Mixed Tournament: league + immediate eliminator
It is the solution where a team does not have so much to worry about running out of the first phase, but at the same time it offers a shorter, possibly more manageable league system, especially when the number of participating teams is higher. You can either go straight to the knockout quarter-final after the league or have more eliminator games before reaching the quarter-final depending on how many teams leave during the league stage.
How much does it cost to organize a soccer tournament?
This is the million-dollar question. No, it’s not necessarily a million dollars but it also isn’t usually free! But if we want it to be a profitable activity (or at least to break-even or make a small surplus top put towards the next event) we will have to carefully take into account all the expenses that we are likely to incur so as to work out our pricing so we generate sufficient revenue
When estimating costs, it is very useful to make a checklist with all the things that you will need and the relevant cost. It also pays to be prudent and realistic and experience tells us it is very easy to underestimate the cost of things! Some examples include:
- Website or online development, maintenance and promotion (think about the cost of time as well!)
- Hiring the venue
- Registration bags (sponsors can help with these though)
- Catering and hospitality facilities
- Staff and officials (e.g. referees)
- Trophies and medals
- Equipment for matches plus things like sound systems
- Health & Safety and Security provision (e.g. barriers, marshals)
- Changing Facilities
- First Aid
- Promotion and marketing generally
- Signage, printing, postage
Advertising and promotion of the Tournament
Once we have organised all the initial set-up tasks for the event, we need to let the world know about our event – clubs, potential participants, would-be sponsors and of course spectators. This is very important as part of getting sponsors on board. The greater the interest from spectators and participating teams, the higher the interests from sponsors and the greater your negotiating position will be!
For this, we must launch a promotional campaign and this is especially important if this is the first time we have organised such an event. Obviously, if you can run the event before you have a head start by contacting those that were previously involved.
But what if it is the first time? Well, no problem and don’t panic! You can use the traditional offline promotions (e.g. leaflet drops, notices in community centres, word of mouth, local press and radio) or the very popular online digital media (e.g. your website, social media, email campaigns, text messages). Social media is an especially powerful tool for engaging the local community including potential sponsors and most clubs (even amateur clubs) now have a strong social media following.
Traditional promotion of your tournament
We first have to identify who our target audience is (i.e. the potential participants of our tournament and reach them through the circles they move in (whether online or offline). How we approach this will depend to a large degree on the type of tournament and the age groups of those taking part. A kids’ tournament will not be the same as one for adults.
With kids and young adults, we would focus on Schools and Colleges, Junior football teams, youth clubs and even the Scouts organisations. For Adults, we may contact employer organisations, senior sports teams, those running local leagues, supporters’ clubs (say of professional teams) and even gyms, pubs and the supermarket! So, for example, we could distribute leaflets at the entrance of the stadium of a professional football club, or at amateur leagues events. Then rely on word of mouth to spread the message!
Writing a good press release is an important first step as you can email this to local media outlets and clubs and ask them to share the press release.
Online Promotion of your Tournament
Here you have many possibilities. Here are some examples of the most effective channels you could use:
Inbound marketing or content marketing
We have already said that it is essential that you have a website. Well, on your website you must create content that is of interest to your potential audience and, in this case, that would be potential participating teams, supporters and sponsors. For example, topics may include food and nutrition, training, leadership, health and fitness. Topics that are interesting to your target audience and which you can link back to your event.
Also, the more regular visitors you have to your website the more people you can reach about your tournament. Good content will also help you reach potentially interested parties with the help of Google and other search engines.
Social networks: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat
We mention these above, but you need to think about your audience. Depending on your target audience they may prefer different platforms. If you have multiple audiences, you may use multiple social media channels but think very carefully about time. It is quality not quantity and you may be better using fewer platforms but use them more effectively.
Advertising: Facebook ads and Google Ads
Here you are not just investing time as in the case of the previous section, but also some money! You are paying the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Facebook to help you reach your target audience more effectively. Yes, there is a cost, but with a small budget, you can still achieve a great deal in terms of promotion and reach significantly more people than through a traditional post.
With Facebook ads (which also incorporates advertising on Instagram) the fundamental thing will be to segment the audience to make sure the ads only reach those we are targeting and make an attractive advertisement (photo or video). Don’t spend money promoting your event to people or groups that will have no interest as you are throwing good money after bad.
Google Ads is about looking for those words that your potential audience are searching for e.g. (“football tournaments in Lancashire”) and writing an ad that invites them to visit your website to find out more or hopefully sign- up!
But the main thing will be to be different and stand out from the rest. Try and find an angle or niche that differentiates your event from other events by focusing on the factors that are of most interest to your target audience (e.g. location, price, the way the event is run, age group).
Awards, trophies and medals
Finally, we must offer prizes as a reward to the winner of the football tournament but also to all those that take part. Such prizes should celebrate commitment, effort and taking part, as well as winning, to encourage everyone to become more active and healthier! Highlight the value and importance of these awards to increase registrations and the level of competitiveness that will be key to a successful event.
Final Awards Ceremony
Whether people leave with positive and happy memories will depend on how well we have organised the event and how well the games are played. But also, how well we finish off the event with the award ceremony. It must be a good awards ceremony.
In football, sometimes only one trophy is awarded to the winning team, but this is a mistake since all team members should have their own award to take home and remember your tournament. That is why the ideal approach is to give a cup to the winning team (and possibly second and third), and a personalized winners medal to each of the members of the winning team.
However, we also strongly recommend you give out medals to all those that have taken part and supported your event and given value to the sponsors! Reward them for their effort and leave them with a permanent reminder of the fantastic time they had at your event as this will ensure they support your future events.
We hope this extensive article has been helpful in offering some important tips on how to organise a football tournament and some of the key things to consider. If you have any questions about our article or want to know more about personalised medals or other promotional items which we supply, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help you organise an amazing tournament.