Open Letter to OPFC

Esteemed members of OPFC,

As you are all probably aware OPFC have been struggling recently to field more than two teams, and on some weekends we have only been able to field one. This is a sad state of affairs given that just 3 seasons ago we were regularly fielding four sides a week.

We have continued to recruit just as many players into the club as for the past 10 seasons, so the main reason behind the reduction in playing sides is a result of player availability on any given weekend. The reduction in the active playing base is down to a number of factors such as:

  • Players leaving the club because they have moved away from London and the UK
  • Players leaving the club to join other clubs
  • Players stopping playing regularly because of long term injury or because they are worried about getting injured
  • Players significantly reducing the number of games they play because of family or work commitments

This reduction in available players is also one of the reasons why the 1st XV were relegated from Surrey 1 last season and are currently in the Surrey 2 relegation zone despite a number of very close games throughout the season.

Now we can’t do much to stop players from moving away, however we can do something about the other issues. To this end, the Executive Committee, who run the club week to week, have been working tirelessly over the past two seasons to try to put mechanisms in place to support player recruitment and most importantly player retention. Below are some of the initiatives that we have put in place that we would like to make sure you are all aware of:

  1. Developed a stronger relationship with St Paul’s School (traditionally the most reliable source of committed new players to the club)
  2. Actively pursued recent SPS school leavers at university or finishing university to come down and play at OPs
  3. Funded physio treatment for injured players
  4. Discounted gym membership at the Hub in Clapham
  5. Fitness focused training session
  6. RFU Coach led “master class” training sessions
  7. Subsidised tours
  8. Free crèche at TD for matches and events
  9. Free bars and events at TD such as Friends and Family day
  10. Advertisements on Facebook, Instagram, local press and at Colets
  11. Cut price tickets (£5) for this season’s End of Season Dinner

Now the Club can put all these mechanisms in place to recruit players and support existing players, however it can only take us so far. What we need is a concerted effort from everyone (playing members, non-playing members, former members, balcony boys and our families) to support the club in any way you can and commit to playing as much as you are able. I know it is hard sometimes however the club needs you. We would also love to see some of our former regulars back at the club.

With this concerted effort we can hopefully help the 1st XV stay up and get the club back up to three full playing sides. This has already been helped by a great win at the weekend.

Whilst various members of the club have been very helpful in contributing various suggestions to help the current situation, we would welcome any thoughts on ways we could improve recruitment, retention or frequency of players. If you have a suggestion or good idea then please let myself or any of the Executive Committee know.

In summary we need you to all to step up, play as much as you can and support the club that we all love after all it it’s your club and we get out of it what we put in.

I look forward to seeing you all down the club before the end of the season.

All the best,

Johno Barrett
OPFC Club Captain