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Facility Management Series - Programming a Sport and Recreation Facility - Programming


The objective is to create a balance between the programme requirements of the local community and the human, financial and physical resources available to the facility manager.  Depending on the type of facility, a wide variety of activities ranging from courses in handcraft to sport and educational programmes could be offered. 


  • Meet community needs for sport and recreation programmes.
  • Priorities activities to prevent double bookings.
  • Ensure that the facility is optimally utilised.

It is the task of the facility manager, following consultations with staff and community, to draft the programming schedule. 


The initial programme will be done annually, before the start of a new financial year.  The programme should be flexible. It should be reviewed regularly to ensure that both business as well as community needs are met in terms of usage as well as the quality of activities offered. 


Start off by doing some research on the facility's current and potential customers (target groups). Information on locality, income, number of people within a 20 minute walking distance, age group, activity, by user group (e.g. unemployed, people with disabilities), by skill level (foundation to excellence) or by type of use (e.g. recreational, skills training, coaching course), are useful when having to plan programmes. 


Keep the names of people that attended previous events / courses. When next you decide to market new programmes or to send out a newsletter, you may consider including them on your list of invitations. 

Include lists of all schools, youth groups, senior groups, pre-schools, non-governmental organisations (NGO's) and Community based organisations (CBO's) in your data base. This list could be compiled by contacting your local authority, schools, newspapers and cultural groups. It could be utilised when targeting specific groups for specifically tailored courses or when researching target group needs before a new programme is offered.  A third group which you have to list, are businesses that could be possible sponsors of events/programmes. 

Establish which other organisations are operating in the vicinity of your facility and invite them to utilise your premises. This could be a means of generating income while simultaneously providing a service to the community. 


Consultation before a new programme is introduced should take place between yourself, the service provider (person presenting the programme/activity) and your clients (the community) to ensure that the activity is of interest to the community and that it will draw the required number of participants to be financially viable. Start off the consultation process by setting up a meeting with all the relevant role players. 


  • Programme costs and the availability of funds, e.g. from government programmes and donors.
  • activities that are already offered by other community organisations, but 
    that require more facilities, e.g. sports programmes, soccer matches
  • special events in the community or at a national level, e.g. Human Rights Day or major events
  • training courses that are available on the market, e.g. skills training (computers, housekeeping, car maintenance, coaching)
  • the type of facilities that are needed for specific programmes, e.g. a field for a cricket development workshop.

The balance of programmes will be dependent on local community requirements, combined with market research outcomes. It may be necessary to replace long-running programmes in favour of new community objectives.


All the programmes should compliment the facility and contribute towards its image in the eyes of the local community.

Some standards for consideration include:

  • Provide a range of activities. Create a balance between casual and club use, special events, classes/courses and free versus paid programmes and services.
  • Optimum utilisation of all human, financial and physical resources. 
  • Keeping abreast of and respond promptly to changing patterns of demand.
  • Encourage participation from all sections of the community.
  • Listen to users opinion when planning or reviewing programmes.
  • Dissemination of information / marketing leaflets / posters to keep the local community informed of changes / programmes presented at the facility. 
  • Monitoring usage trends and adapting programmes accordingly.


To prevent double bookings and clashes between programmes, plan a careful schedule/timetable. Consult the school calender e.g. before scheduling programmes for the youth.


Three types of programmes you might develop:

  • Regular programmes are those offered on a weekly or monthly basis, e.g. Adult Basic Education, Training classes.
  • Irregular programmes are offered when a specific need is identified, e.g. training workshops for local house building programmes for a limited period of time.
  • Ad hoc programmes are offered when a special need or opportunity arises, e.g. a member of Bafana Bafana is available for a soccer clinic.

The size of your venue will determine the type of programme you can offer to your community. Use the space available to you creatively. All of us would like to have big spacious facilities but, in most cases, this is not possible. Ensure that the programme suits the venue as well as the participating group.

Programmes including arts and crafts activities appeal to a wide range of people. A variety of items that usually land on the scrap heap, such as egg boxes, scraps of material, bottles, etc. could become valuable treasures once transformed into a useful item or piece of art.


You can only offer as many programmes as is possible within the confines of the funding, capacity of the facility, equipment, time in hand and the expertise (programme presenters) available.


  • Time programmes to suit the needs of individual groups e.g.
  • You need to keep in mind that parents have to drop off their children at the 
    programme or children have to walk there.
  • You have to be available from 07h00 in order to accommodate parents on their way to work.
  • Once children arrive at your facility you have to make sure that you keep them busy.
  • A good programme will have little "dead time".
  • Each activity included needs to be planned in detail so that the people assisting you should know exactly what is happening and when.
  • The success of the programme is determined by your planning and the training of your staff / volunteers.


  • Ask participants to evaluate the programme at the end and have the staff involved in a self evaluation and activity evaluation.
  • User satisfaction is what brings people back for a second programme.
  • Cost-effectiveness should also be evaluated.
  • Negative feedback should be seen as a challenge to assist you in improving your programme / service.


  • Youth 
    It is a challenge to develop programmes for this age group as they tend to be both very critical and easily get bored. First consult to find out what captures their interest. They normally enjoy competitions and like to be acknowledged for performing well.
  • Senior citizens end people with disabilities
    These groups should be treated with respect and dignity. A balanced programme combining mental and physical challenges is recommended. The length of your programme will depend on the fitness level of your participants. When programming for these groups you need to bear in mind that they have speciaI needs that must be taken into account. 

Things to remember:

  • Transport needed to and from your facility. 
  • Easy access to toilets for wheelchairs and the partially disabled. 
  • Availability of a trained nurse/first aid equipment. 
  • Extra helpers to cope with the special needs specific to these groups.


Programmes have to be marketed to attract users. Efforts have to be made for good publicity around a programme. The following are a few examples:

  • Planning programmes in close co-operation with the interested parties, 
    e.g. a soccer tournament in conjunction with the local soccer club.
  • Use the various communication systems in the community for spreading 
    the news, e.g. newspaper, local radio station, taxi rank, banners and posters.
  • Design and distribution of pamphlets.
  • Link the programme with existing and well-supported programmes, e.g. a music performance at the League soccer match.
  • Advertise the programme/event well in advance.

Be alert! 
You can expect competition from other facilities or programme organisers that offer similar programmes. Stay informed with regard to dates of forthcoming big sports or cultural events to prevent date clashes.


  • The costing of programmes requires special attention.  This includes:
  1. salaries of staff
  2. payment for the use of facilities
  3. transport
  4. other direct management costs e.g. equipment that has to be bought, marketing, cleaning after the programme, etc. 
  • Special attention should be paid to the affordability and cost-effectiveness of programmes (does the outcome / result justify the expense?)
  • Funding of the programme.
    This could be done through cost-recovery (user fees), fund allocation by the facility management or fundraising.

Continue to Programme Planning


Copyright: Alexsan Kopano Educational Trust and/or organisations and/or persons associated with Alexsan Kopano Educational Trust.
Page last updated: 05/04/2012 .

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