Sports clubs in communities across Ireland and the service volunteers provide are very often taken for granted but when you take a closer look at the how much is spent on club membership, the value of the local sports club to families in the community is clear for all to see.
Median Family Membership costs €165 in Ireland
Aggregating the membership data across various sports in Ireland shows a median price nationally of €165 per year for a family membership. The make-up of family membership differs depending on sport (e.g. 2 adults, 2 children vs. 1-adult, 3 children) and the median rates for five sports with the highest participation levels are shown in the table below for comparison, with separate columns for Dublin and everything outside Dublin.
Family membership at a club in Dublin tends to be more expensive – as you might expect – but for Soccer and Athletics, the reverse is true with family membership more expensive outside the capital. For soccer, this may be down to discounting on family membership as the median cost of an individual membership (underage) is higher in Dublin (€107) than the rest of the country(€90).
It costs €.75 cents per child per hour to participate at your local sports club
The average club season might run for 6-7 months of the year (depending on sport) and at an estimate of 5 hours per week between training and matches over 24 weeks, a club member might participate for 120 hours over the course of the season. This takes the median value of an underage membership of €90 down to just €0.75 per hour. Some club volunteers would consider this a conservative estimate and your club may be different and may not meet that level of activity in a season – but even at just 60 hours per year, it represents about €1.50 per hour which is a small price to pay to a club given what you get in return.
What do you get for €0.75 cents these days?
But as a more direct comparison against the numbers we spend on entertaining and educating our kids beyond the school curriculum, being a member of a sports club presents the most cost efficient way of entertaining and educating children as they get to experience all the social benefits of participation while learning some valuable life lessons along the way.
Comparing club membership to other spend, it’s a tiny fraction of the basic cost of music lessons for instance and compares favourably with other forms of children’s entertainment such as a trip to the cinema or the zoo.
At your local GAA, soccer or rugby club, your €0.75 per hour stretches a long way. Most clubs rely heavily on membership income for the day-to-day running of the club and monies raised cover insurance, NGB fees, pitch & grounds maintenance, club administration – all supported by the countless hours that come from people volunteering as coaches, club officers, match officials, fundraisers, kid’s camps administrators and other roles. Virtually all of these roles are fulfilled in a volunteering capacity with no monetary reward – even your neighbourhood babysitter is pocketing vastly more per hour for taking care of your children!
It’s worth noting too that club membership is an investment in your children’s health and personal development. Being a member of a sports club from an early age helps to create the habit of a healthy lifestyle – between training and matches each week, the typical child will exceed the recommended activity levels on 3 days in every week. There are many health benefits to be gained from regular participation in sport as well as social benefits and learning about teamwork, communication, leadership and respect.