Do we tell the right stories?

“So, what is the theme of the conference?”

“There isn’t a theme, as such. We found topics we thought people would be interested in – and then chose speakers that could address those areas.”

“So, is the theme ‘interesting topics’?”

“That should always be the theme of a conference, shouldn’t it?”

“Ok. So what would you like the theme to be?”

“I think I’d like it to be about storytelling and how we, as a sector, need to be better at telling stories rather than using our internal, industry language – the acronyms and specialist terminology – when engaging with people who don’t live within our industry. We spend so much time talking about pitches, fences, floodlights etc. that I think we are dis-associating ourselves from the individuals that use the facilities.

“The infill on a pitch…what it is made of, how it is tested and how it is maintained is only of use if we have a player playing on that pitch. How do all those elements help the player’s story? Do they mean that the player and their team can play for longer on the pitch? Or does it mean that they are able to not have their games cancelled by the weather?

“Do our play facilities encourage curious minds in children? Are our facilities more accessible to a wider range of players? Are our facilities inclusive that help more people access sport and play?

“These are the stories that I think people will engage with and want to know more about. We are at the heart of an exciting industry that has so much to offer when it comes to national debates on all kinds of topics. But, frankly, I’m not sure we tell the right kind of stories to attract external people to us.”

is the above a real conversation? Or an affectation to show, in practice, the importance of storytelling in an odd and frankly overly complicated manner?

It’s an amalgamation of a few different conversations, but it is quite close to the print deadline.


About Richard Shaw

Richard Shaw is Chief Executive of SAPCA