In Fall 2021, a three-year strategic plan for sport development was presented to Ringette Calgary to inform sport development initiatives until 2024-25. One of the first priorities identified was the collection of demographic and general data from existing ringette players, to confirm and guide Ringette Calgary’s sport development efforts. A sub committee was formed to identify survey questions and support the coordination of Come Try Ringette events for the upcoming season.
Approximately 50% of current ringette players participated in the survey, which was found to be generally representative of Ringette Calgary members, with lower participation from NW Ringette. Players new to the sport generally joined in Active Start and U10 divisions, with high recruitment success experienced by BowView and South Calgary in 2021-22. South Calgary also experienced the highest success in recruitment in the U12 division.
94% of current players live in the NW, SE and SW quadrants of the city, and 54% of players live in 24 neighbourhoods in Calgary. While ringette players overall are concentrated in certain areas of the city, there is greater distribution of players aged 4-11 throughout the city compared to the overall ringette community. This limits current opportunities to target marketing and outreach programs on a neighbourhood scale using existing players.
Ringette Calgary players attend at least 191 different schools in and around Calgary. There are significant concentrations of students located in particular schools, however, these generally correlate with higher levels of participation in the communities they serve. However, there are higher concentrations of ringette players in private, charter and homeschool settings compared to the general population, and a significantly higher representation of players in alternative language programming compared to the general population. These trends should inform future marketing and outreach programming as part of broader sport development initiatives.
Most current players discovered ringette through friends and family, and approximately 30% of all current players participated in Come Try Ringette events as a way of learning about the sport. In 2021-22, 36% of all new players participated in a CTR event, with the highest conversion rates experienced by BowView. Future data collection in this area is needed to measure continued success and expansion of this program.
More than 40% of current players know or may know others interested in joining the sport, with the majority of players who know or may know people interested in joining the sport in Active Start (68% of players) and U10 (55% of players). Associations are strongly encouraged to leverage their existing membership to increase awareness and participation in upcoming Come Try Ringette events this spring and summer.
Nearly 86% of players intend to return to ringette next season. This number jumps to nearly 90% when players who are aging out or unsure about playing their third year of U19. While this is a high retention rate for youth sports, some changes are suggested to improve player retention going forward. This includes increased transparency on evaluation processes for all levels and divisions, introducing a pilot for set game and practice times for Active Start and U10 Step 1 levels, and continued advocacy for the introduction of “C” division programming for U16 and U19 players.
Ringette Calgary players are actively involved in other sports, with 84% of respondents involved in at least one sport outside of ringette. On average, ringette players participate in 1.8 other sports in addition to ringette, with 3 additional sports on average for Active Start players, and dropping to 1.35 for U19 players. As players age, the number and type of additional sports they participate in change over time. Understanding which additional sports players are participating in will help inform future recruitment and sport development initiatives.
Youth sports awareness relies heavily on recommendations of friends and family, and word of mouth. Social media and sports websites are other reliable tools for sport marketing strategies. Bold community signs appear to be most effective for reaching families of players in Active Start and U10 divisions.
Additional data collection is recommended for 2022-23, with specific focus on leveraging existing demographic information from associations to maximize efficiency of future survey work. It is important to note that data collection policies may require updating at the association level to share this information with Ringette Calgary. Focus on collecting additional information for new players, Children’s Ringette participants, and other information that may inform or result from work of the Ringette Alberta Program Advisory Committee will be needed.
Next steps include the expansion of Come Try Ringette initiatives and a soft launch of expanded gym ringette programming in 2022-23. Work will also be undertaken to plan introduction to ringette opportunities by leveraging complementary sport and activities in Spring 2023. Work will also begin to investigate and identify the path forward for a launch of Learn to Skate and Learn to Play programming, with a target of Spring 2024. This will be achieved through the establishment of five ad-hoc committees in 2022-23, and participation in the recently launched Ringette Alberta Program Advisory Committee.