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Growth and Recruitment in Croquet

Concerns have long been expressed about perceived declining levels of competitive croquet across the country. This has often been attributed to a growth in 'social croquet', which is not confined to Golf Croquet but this variant certainly represents the greater part of the rise in non-competitive play.

In 2011 a Croquet Association Recruitment Working Party and the Marketing Committee recommended a change of direction. Federations introduced more local competitions and the Academies ran AC Introduction Courses for GC-only players. The Development Committee formulated a plan to introduce croquet into more universities. Croquet England emphasised the intellectual challenge of croquet in its literature. All of this had good effects but concerns continued to circulate.

In 2020 a Working Group under the Chairmanship of David Openshaw was set up to recommend an overall strategy for the development of competitive croquet in the domain; to recommend a specific strategy to revitalise Association Croquet and arrest its decline and to recommend a specific strategy to strengthen further the growth of Golf Croquet. They reported in March 2021 and the document is entitled Competitive Play Strategy - Final Report. We recommend that you have a look. It contains many challenging proposals for Federations and Clubs as well as for Croquet England itself.

The Role of Croquet England

Before 2011 the Croquet Association did not have a Growth and Recruitment Strategy as such. It was largely left to clubs to recruit as they saw fit, and the Croquet Association provided support.

Since croquet is essentially a competitive sport, it was agreed that the CA, and now Croquet England, should concentrate on promoting competition. Since 2011 existing clubs have grown their numbers substantially. The majority of growth has been because of the recruitment of social GC players. While this was a success - with many clubs finding themselves on a firmer financial footing - it raised other problems, one of which was the reduction in the proportion of competitive players.

Along with this decline, there was a decline in the proportion of club members choosing to join the Croquet Association as Individuals. The proportion diminished from 45% in 2001 to 27% in 2010. The Croquet Association was greatly concerned by this. Fundamental changes were introduced. Standard Associate subscription was made available to all club members without additional charge. Croquet England now has more than 7,500 subscribers - a reasonably large and increasing proportion of the active club players, who now number around 9,800 (calculated by reference to the reports made by clubs for the purposes of the levy). There are also (at the last count) 234 players who are direct Croquet England Associates and not members of a club.

Characteristics of Croquet Players

The 2011 paper went on to explore the characteristics of the people who might be recruited to play croquet and to suggest where they might be found. It was not intended to be a complete blueprint of how to implement a new Growth and Recruitment Strategy. However, it was intended that the strategy should influence the Marketing, Development and Coaching Committees, as well as how our sport was financed. It still has resonance in 2024.

Some of the ideas explored were:

The Ways Forward Identified in 2021

For more detail click on this link Competitive Play Strategy - Final Report