The disruption and impact of COVID-19 has led to organisations and industry needing to innovate quickly to keep their people and communities engaged. With a strong focus on providing an environment that promotes learning and development for its players and staff, Western United Football Club (WUFC) took on the challenge COVID presented, collaborating with Victoria University (VU) Polytechnic on a suite of rapidly developed micro-training options in response to their needs.
Start-up club Western United won their A-League license in December 2018 and quickly created an organisation in the lead up to playing their first game in October 2019. Unlike many start-ups who leave learning and development strategies until later in the organisational growth journey, Western United have woven the development of its people and community into the fabric of their core values from the beginning - togetherness, growth and effort.
Prior to the impact of COVID, WUFC were in discussion with VU in the development of a club learning and development strategy. With the virus hitting hard in March, WUFC played their last game on 23 March 2020 and were faced with standing down all of their playing list and football department staff for 3 months, with administration working reduced hours. Quickly needing to change tact to provide players and staff with purpose and keep them engaged, WUFC and VU Polytechnic built a series of remote-delivered leadership and professional development short courses to enhance the capability of the club’s people.
Courses delivered focussed on communication, time management, emotional intelligence, influence and social media awareness. For VU Polytechnic Manager of Business Growth, Ronnie Webster, the collaboration has been all about listening to industry needs.
“The partnership with WUFC has been about ensuring that VU Polytechnic as the training provider is offering solutions tailored to the desired outcomes of our industry partner. Businesses and their needs are evolving rapidly, and the Polytechnic’s ability to provide an agile approach to training development of in-demand skills is essential to growing the required capability within an organisation such as WUFC.”
The short courses were a hit with players and staff. Ninety percent of participants rated their course as excellent or good overall, and eighty-two percent would recommend their course to their peers. WUFC Chief Executive Officer, Chris Pehlivanis, emphasised the value that the partnership with VU is providing to the club.
"Our partnership with VU is exceptional - their ability to work with us, change direction mid-stream and develop/deliver programs which were both highly engaging and provided a professional learning experience. These courses have enabled us to keep our staff engaged and improve their skills during difficult times."
Moving forward, WUFC will continue to work with Victoria University to roll-out a learning and development strategy that provides a blended approach to training and to tailor programs to meet the needs of an evolving industry. Mr Pehlivanis is optimistic about what the future holds for training opportunities.
“Short courses will enable us to meet the learning requirements of all our staff and players in a timely manner. These programs will provide us with a platform to engage with other industries and learn from each other, and the ability to provide our staff and players with the opportunity to develop in areas where they have interest, which may lead to further studies.”
Want to learn more about Western United Football Club or membership? Check out www.wufc.com.au.
To learn more about partnering with VU Polytechnic for industry training solutions, contact [email protected].
Interested in undertaking short course training? Check out VU Polytechnic short courses.