“Off the Pitch with Active” is a program of interviews with people involved with junior sport in some capacity for the benefits of childrens development. I am hoping that these interviews will help recognise people who donate a massive amount of their time to the community and create opportunities for children to excel in sport.
I also like parents to get a better understanding of who these people are and hopefully readers can get some helpful suggestions.
By Ken Willner 24 April 2017
This time I have been fortunate to spend time with someone with a huge passion for Campbelltown City Soccer & Community Club (CCSC). He is listed on the clubs honorary board. He is also on the board as a Marketing Director and Vice Chairman. He is a fishing fanatic and have spent most of his life in the club. Welcome to Off the Pitch with Active Italo Zanatta.
IZ: Thank you
AI: When did it all start for you in CCSC?
IZ: It pretty much started back in 1977. I started as a 9 year old and back in those days we did not have many junior teams so it was just to buy your time until you got a crack as you got a little bit older. But it was great to be involved. I pretty much played right through U18, reserves and had a couple of games with the senior A’s.
AI: So what sort of junior teams did you have in those days?
IZ: We basically started at U11 and we obviously did not have the facilities we have now.
AI: A little bit different [both smiling]
IZ: The club was fairly young back then, having been incorporated around 1963. Back in the day it was a lot of hard work by a lot of people and a lot of families.
AI: How long did you actively play?
IZ: Pretty much finished playing in 1989
AI: Okay and you were a goal keeper too?
IZ: Yes, I was. well I tried anyway [big smile]
AI: And now you have a son Leigh playing U16
IZ: Yes he does
AI: Is Jasmin playing too?
IZ: No she is not playing
AI: She is supporting?
IZ: Yes that’s right.
AI: I guess she is like my daughter [laughing] never supports her brother
IZ: Yeah, not really [laughing]
AI: Okay! so I would like to move on to the main topic of this interview. I want parents to get an idea of sponsorship. What is behind sponsorship for clubs. It takes enormous amount of work and cost a lot of money running a club like this built on volunteers and sponsorship is a vital part. I did some research and found that the first sponsor for CCSC was Pasta D’Oro in 1064.
IZ: There you go, some good research there [smiling]
AI: When did you secure your first sponsorship?
IZ: I came back to CCSC and join the board about 5 years ago. Don Leombruno was the chairman at the time and he asked me to come on the committee and consequently I got on the board and took on the Marketing Directors portfolio.
Basically, I have been going on there since and I also took on the role of vice chairman
AI: Who was your very first sponsorship deal and how did it come about?
IZ: I have to think about that the first thing we do at the club is to make sure that we retain our existing sponsorship base. As you can appreciate, it is very difficult for companies to forego money to sporting organisations. So, my first and foremost task was to make sure we retain the ones that we had.
Since then it has been a multitude of new sponsors coming on-board. We typically start with a sign sponsorship deal, then we go from a sign to apparel. There are also players and trophy sponsorships for both juniors and seniors as well. We try to cater to a budget which people/companies can afford to do.
AI: Tell me a little bit about how important it is to have sponsors for a club?
IZ: Its massively important, without them we probably would not be able to move forward as an organisation from a social and playing aspects. When you do have a sponsor on-board, it’s really important that you give them value for money and that they see that it is a perceived value there.
Moving forward for the club, we have a very big junior base but never the less, the apparel is expensive, the running of the club is expensive so our sponsors play a key part in helping us in maintaining that.
Don’t forget there is also a lot of development so the money that we do raise is put to good use at the club, for example, we had the new lights installed on our senior pitch and that gives us sponsorships opportunities as well for people that may want the opportunity to sponsor a light pole for night matches. We always look at new opportunities.
AI: Well that is one of the aspects I wanted to ask you. I guess sponsorship has changed in the way you can offer sponsorships so what have changed if you look at the last 5-10 years?
IZ: I think the main thing that has changed is that the sponsors are a lot more savvy. They have a good understanding of what they want to get out of the packages as well and I think that is the most important thing. You need to give them value for money. Obviously connected to the club is always a big bonus but having them there on game day is fantastic.
Having them actively involved is important. The networking aspects too is also good. We have a base of 450-500 juniors so I think it just the last 4-5 years that I have been involved I have noticed the most thing that has happen is that money is tight. They way businesses are run the funds are not always easily accessible.
And in part that’s why we really appreciate what our sponsors put into our club and we try to give them a return.
AI: How do you measure that?
IZ: Basically, we have a number of targets that we look at. What we did previous years and emulate that to the same number. Also, try to get more sponsors on-board. It is a time-consuming process, as board and committee members we are all donating our time. It’s nothing we get paid for as such and it’s a lot of work after hours. A lot of people put a lot of time into it. And it’s certainly not just myself.
AI: How do you see sponsorships develop in the future in the next, say 5-10 year? It’s a lot of new social media aspects and technologies are emerging. There are a lot more ways to get involved with sponsorship these days.
IZ: Absolutely, going to market as a club is, fairly, dynamic and the environment is changing. Hence we have just put together a media & communication team, which you are now part of. By the way, thanks for coming on-board [both laughing].
AI: you are welcome
IZ: Yeah, I think it’s about getting more people actively involved in the club. But also, having a clear vision and view of what we want to achieve and what our stakeholders expect as well. Being either our parents, council, local Government and Federal Government we try to work with all those organisations as best we can to get the best outcome for the club and sponsors.
Moving forward I think it is a lot more of that group networking that we need to be doing and tapping into. To make sure we achieve the right amounts of funds for the club to move forward into the future.
AI: So how do you gain new sponsorships. You got existing sponsors and maintaining them by offering value but how do you actually gain new sponsors?
IZ: I think, if you break it up into two parts, you probably got your senior apparel & sign sponsorship then we got our juniors. So, it depends on the type of organisation and what their expectations are. Some people commit because they love the club and they put some money towards it and when they see things happening that is great. From a corporate level, it is more difficult to gain funds from big organisations and peoples funds are not going on forever. You need to think further advance of where you are at.
So, I think moving forward that whole aspects needs to be continually reviewed. I don’t think it is a one best fit for everything but definitely to work with our key people, stake holders and networking. We get different opportunities that arises and sometimes it comes from the most strangest conversations.
AI: What is one of the strangest one you gained sponsorship from?
IZ: Oh you got me on the spot then [both laughing], Hm…Look, it could be a simple as being up on the hill on a Saturday afternoon to have a chat with someone or it could be at an away game. Sometime with my work, when I talking to people. It’s just the network that you have.
AI: CCSC had the 50 years celebration a few years ago and the seniors won the league and they also won the league last year. How important is that to your sponsorships?
IZ: As a marketing Dir, I think [big smile] the more you win the easier it is to get them on-board [still smiling].
AI: Can you see a distinct additional value?
IZ: Absolutely, I think when you look at senior sports if you can win the NPL Championship I think that what the club is measured on. That is my view and not necessarily the clubs view but it’s very important. The exposure that you get, Yeah, look I think it is extremely important to be competitive at that level. And stay up at top flight.
We have been very fortunate with Climat who has been on-board for a number of years and Rob has been fantastic with us and we respect that. We do the best we can to accommodate him and we come up with different ideas and marketing techniques as well and that assist him as well.
AI: I think you offer about 6 different sponsorship levels?
IZ: Yes, approximately it is around that.
AI: Is there a limit to the different levels on how many you can have or can you have as many as possible? for example for a premium sponsorship level can you have too many?
IZ: I don’t think you can, you are pretty well limited to apparel sponsors. I think we pretty much maxed out what you can put on apparel. A lot of people like to have their brand on the apparel. We offer that right through to juniors, U18, reserves and 1st team. We have a home and away strip so that assists as well.
We got different opportunities coming up as well, like sign sponsors. It really, depends on what they want to spend and what sort of commitment they are prepare to put into it. You can never have enough! [big smile]
AI: Is it such a thing as an inappropriate sponsor?
IZ: Uhm..Look.. potentially it can be but we are very diligent with the sponsorship agreements we have with our current sponsors. I sometimes get calls or have discussions with businesses that may be conflicting. We basically give our sponsors the best possible opportunity and we don’t like to double up on things unless we have to. But it is a respect thing as well.
AI: You spend a considerable time at the club and you are also marketing manager for Tradelink so that would mean you would have a few sessions with customers at all hours.
IZ: Yeah that is my role.
AI: Does Teresa (wife for 26 years) still know you [laughing]?
IZ: Yeah [big smile] it’s all okay, it is all about work, club & life balance. It can be difficult at times in a marketing role. For me it really kicks in about September when the season finishes. Then we need to lock in all the apparel sponsors because we need to order the gear for the next year.
Julie (club secretary) and I generally work through that with the sponsors. The type of strips we buy depends on where we place the logos on the apparels as well. So, that keeps us busy right up until November by then we are pretty much ready to go.
AI: So, by that time Teresa will be hanging out to see you [laughing]
IZ: [smiling] she is very happy to let me do what I need to do. So, after Christmas we sort of have a month off. When we come back its pre-season training, apparels are on the way and then I continue to have discussions with current and new potential sponsors.
AI: Do you provide any data for sponsors and discuss their expectation and review how the past season were for them?
IZ: absolutely, with our multi-media and our Facebook page we try to interact with our sponsors as much as we can. When we sit down at the end of the season we catch up with all the apparel sponsors, one on one. Have a coffee and go through where we have been and have they enjoyed the experience. Is it what they want, is it meeting their expectation, is the club professional enough.
Because when you deal with the likes of Climat, even if it is a privately owned company its corporatised, LJ Hooker, Mac Donalds Firle they are all reputable companies that we deal with. They have a level of expectation and we seem to be meeting that.
That is very good when you are going to discuss the following year. So, to take feedback I have these discussions with them what can we do better, what would you like us to do and what aren’t we doing that could enhance the experience and or their expectations.
AI: Generally, do most sponsors have some form of involvements because of their children are playing in the club?
IZ: In some instances, they do and some cases they don’t. Some have been sponsors because they have children in the club some had no children at all. It is really good to have that mix.
AI: Absolutely, otherwise it becomes a transient thing.
IZ: Correct, I think the key is if they had children involved here it would be really good to retained after when they are not there. You can still see them at games and they still get value for money.
AI: Brilliant, I think we leave it there, it’s been really good. Thank you very much for your time.
IZ: No problem at all.
AI: It should be good information for parents and people around the club to get an insight how the club work in the background to gain sponsorship to improve facilities, coaching and the club. It is a community club so it is playing an important role in the area.
IZ: Fantastic and if there any other sponsors out there that may want to have a chat, feel free to contact the club and get my number.
To contact Italo Zanatta call Campbelltown City Soccer & Community Club Ph: 08 8337 0907
About Off the pitch with Active is a creation of Active Illustrated.
Interviewer: Ken Willner
Photos provided by Active Illustrated, Italo Zanatta & Campbelltown City Soccer & Community Club
Interviewer: Ken Willner
Photos provided by Active Illustrated & Italo Zanatta
©Active Illustrated 2017
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