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engage and activate communities

How NGBs are creating plans to engage and activate their communities

March 22, 2024

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The Drive Phase podcast has had its fair share of National Governing Bodies (NGBs) on the show. What’s unique about them is their leadership, volunteers, and community players. They offer bags of value, encouraging the sport. Not only to have a competitive role but also to get kids and adults engaged regularly.

James Moore, host of The Drive Phase, was joined by Guin Batten, Deputy CEO of Volleyball England and Natalie Justice-Dearne, CEO of Rounders England, to talk strategy and leadership. These two goliaths of the sports sector got to the heart of keeping competition and engagement at the heart of their agendas.


Raising the profile of an old favourite with Rounders England

Rounders is a time-honoured tradition in the UK, with many fond memories from summer school days in the UK. There’s no doubt that Rounders is well-loved, but with a small team, one of Natalie’s main challenges is having the resources to fully take advantage of what the sport has to offer people of all ages.

“Everybody loves it, it’s skilful, great for fitness and Rounders is played at a really high level. Our main challenges are having the resources to take full advantage of our opportunities and continuing to develop raising our income streams as an organisation.”

Rounders England

For Natalie, it’s collaboration that is key to reaching their goals, understanding that her role is connected to the wider goal of creating a better environment for the sport. If she can support and influence the right people and organisations, Rounders will continue to thrive and grow as a national pastime. She added:

“If you’ve got volunteers in the sport, or people who seem a little stuck in their ways, or stand in the way of change and development. If you can take them with you rather than go against them, that’s the obvious better approach.”


Building a new kind of workforce with Volleyball England

A relatively new sport in the NGB world, Deputy CEO of Volleyball England, Guin Batten, is just the punchy former athlete to get things done. Starting her career as a record-holding Team GB Olympian rower, she now works with a vibrant set of elite and community players.

“Volleyball England is a relatively young NGB, starting in the 50s. The sport itself is having its peaks and troughs in success on the international stage, but on the ground, it’s massive. I was in Plymouth on the weekend, and from 9 am to 6 pm, they played a solid day of rotating matches.”

Volleyball England

One of the main challenges is moving from word-of-mouth to a robust understanding of its accessibility for any ability player. COVID-19 was difficult for Volleyball, with the NGB finding difficulties recovering its officials and volunteers. That’s where their People Plan comes in – getting Volleyball England back on target.

“Most organisations have a people plan for HR, recruitment, retention, skills and training. For Volleyball England, we needed a plan for our volunteers, something that would talk about not just players but coaches and officials.”


Their People Plan was designed to offer a holistic overview of the great people who keep Volleyball moving. How to prevent burnout, find help, what coaching strategies or even the degree of support needed to manage volunteers and to bring security and retention back to the sport.

To find out more about how NGBs create positive environments for their sport, why not check out The Drive Phase podcast? It’s the premier podcast for the activities sector, marrying the stories of business leaders with those that advocate for better. Join James Moore fortnightly for the best in career insights and sports development.

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