Club structure varies by size and focus. Some are massive enterprises with buildings full of staff and million dollar private facilities; others are volunteer run from a home office. The list below outlines specific positions that are popular at some clubs and what benefit you may or may not have from employing someone in the position. In the beginning you are unlikely to have any employees, but if you are a non-profit you will need a board of directors. Usually these will be elected from members of your teams (parents, referees, coaches etc) but sometimes you can also get members of the local community from outside of soccer to be involved. This is generally a good idea as the parents on the board will tend to vote for what is best for their child or team rather than thinking about the club as a whole. If you can get non-customers on the board you might be able to have them make decisions without as much emotional or selfish attachment.
Other criteria to look for in attracting board members include their specific skills. Can you find people with business experience, financial qualifications (who can do your accounting), project managers (to set up your events), soccer people (former players, coaches or directors who know something about running a soccer club), non-profit experts (with experience running 501(c) 3 businesses, regardless of the industry), and above all, people who are motivated to do some work? If so, you can save a significant amount of learning later. Although the election is probably open to whoever applies, it is in your interest to have a committee who search out good candidates and encourage them to apply. In the early days the board will be a deciding body – managing day to day operations and dictating where the club goes. As it grows their role will become a reviewing body, checking what the employees do and holding them accountable for the decisions they are making. The demands on the board will vary between these two stages so it is important to get the right people on it, depending where your club is.
Head Coach – Each team needs a coach. These can be paid or volunteer, and paid can have a wide range depending on you location, their seniority/qualifications/experience, the level and age of the team. Generally coaches are on contracts, given a lump sum for each season, which is distributed at various points. Coach contracts should outline expectations, behaviors, requirements and dates/times. Volunteer coaches should also sign contracts, even if they are waiving their fees. Check out our interview with Stuart Hilton on how he hires coaches at Dallas Sting.
Assistant Coach – High level teams often have assistant coaches too, who may be paid. During practice they can work with goalkeepers or other groups outside of the main session. Some clubs put assistant coaches on teams with younger head coaches, to help them keep control of their players.
Director of Coaching – As mentioned elsewhere, this position can be far vaguer than it sounds. In some clubs it could be your only employee – responsible for doing everything from administration to coaching. In larger clubs their role becomes more defined to managing the staff of head coaches, or even managing a subset of coaches from specific genders or age groups. Generally the job involves some office work and field time coaching or evaluating sessions during the week and games at the weekends. There are some who take it very seriously and work long hours every day of the week. There are others who phone it in, showing up once or twice for an hour or two, chat about soccer and live off their reputation and resume. This position more than any is one to hire based on interviews and motivation rather than friends and prestige.
Administrator – It is unlikely that your director of coaching signed up to take on the exciting role of club administration. At some point you might need to take away some of the work and give it to a person more interested in office work – registering players, budgeting, answering the phone and emails, setting meetings and scheduling events. Although there are times of the year when the job workload increases significantly, this can rapidly become a full time year-round job. If you have an office this person can be the main point of contact and office manager also.
Financial Director – As clubs get bigger it becomes difficult for an administrator to handle the front end of the club (registering players, scheduling practices, meetings, uniforms etc.) and the financial side. A second person could be brought on to take care of payroll, expenses, budgeting, tournaments, scholarships, and general office accounting. Ideally they would understand non-profit tax code and have a background in financial management.
Executive Director – If your club is becoming a fully-fledged business you might need to look at hiring an executive director/chief executive. Their role is to take charge of employees, long term strategy and making decisions in lieu of the board of directors. This makes the club quicker as they don’t have to wait a month to have board meetings. Executives tend to be office staff, rather than coaching staff.
Tournament Director – Tournaments can be a great way to make extra money and get exposure for the club. They can also be a financial and political nightmare when they fail. Generally each one will need a director and/or a committee to take care of it. If your club has several events throughout the year you might get to the stage where a full time employee can take care of all of them.