Starting a Club

Club Training

Usually, the formation of a club starts around an individual or a group of individuals who are already involved in wrestling or grappling sports. In some cases, friends, family, onlookers or work colleagues may have shown an interest in trying out of wrestling/Grappling at the point where curiosity gets the better of them. Existing wrestlers may feel that there is enough interest in the locality to form a club from the existing and the prospective group. It is now that the work begins

Club Facility

A club can operate at within a number of different grappling disciplines such as Freestyle Wrestling, Greco Roman Wrestling, Pankration, Sambo, Grappling or BJJ.

The club should have its own training facilities, mats and possibly a supply of club training equipment. Having a base from which to run training sessions (e.g. introduction courses/evenings) and club competitions is important in further developing and in attracting future members.

At the top of the pyramid would be a club with a fully-fledged facility offering, Mats, changing rooms, showers, meeting rooms, weight lifting training equipment, etc... This is possible when a location is obtained by renting or buying and is the desired situation for most clubs; however, finances and acquisition of suitable sites can be difficult. If you are interested in pursuing such a development you should contact the IAWA, the National Lottery, your local County Council and other funding agencies to see what funding may be available.

Starting Out

If you are forming a new club from scratch it is a good idea to start with a small group of members, maybe eight to ten. These numbers are easier to cater for in terms of ratios for training when first starting out, but sufficient enough to elect a committee and delegate club duties. If the club is already formed and you are hoping to inject new life into it there are a number of ways in which new members can be attracted:

  • Staging of ‘come and try sessions’ for the general public
  • Advertising of club activities in local media and social media, word of mouth
  • Distribution of a club newsletter through existing members to prospective members
  • Your members are the best way to get new people to join!

Removing Barriers

Asking people about their ability and what they can do is a good start, that way you can begin to tune into their needs and make any adaptations that are necessary, if any are in fact necessary Never ask what someone can’t do, you should have an asset based approach to recruitment of members and look at a person’s strengths, what they could bring. Asking what they can’t do is creating/highlighting barriers. Members should know that the will be accepted at any ability.

Be prepared to have a different view to recruitment, have women/girl only days, target underrepresented groups. Be prepared to make reasonable adjustments to allow access to the club for all.

Use promotional materials with actual people/stories on, relevant to individual groups, girls, teenagers, ethnic minorities, disabled etc.

Considerations when joining up new members?

All Members are entitled to:

  • Be safe during participation in sporting activities. Ensure participation is on an equal basis, appropriate to ability, weight, age and stage of development
  • Be treated with dignity, sensitivity and respect
  • Be happy, have fun and enjoy the sport
  • Comment and make suggestions in a constructive manner
  • Make a complaint in the appropriate way and have it dealt with through an effective complaints procedure
  • Be afforded appropriate confidentiality
  • Be represented at decision making bodies/meetings within their sports clubs
  • Have a voice in the running of their club
  • Be listened to

What to do at your first meeting/Appoint Officers/Draw up constitution/Register the Club

The first official task in the formation of a new club is the holding of General Meeting which in time should become an Annual General Meeting (AGM). At this meeting a title for the club should be decided and more importantly a committee selected to help with the maintenance and running of the club. The committee members need to be chosen from the future members present, the committee ratified and a club constitution adopted. A list of committee members might be as follows:

  • Chairperson/President
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Coaching Team
  • Garda Liaison Officer

In order for a club to be appropriately administered and regulated, it is usual to have a club constitution. This is often a prerequisite of many grant aid bodies and key funding programmes. A club constitution should be a simple document that outlines the functions of the club, procedures for membership, meetings and committees. Having a constitution will help to clarify how the club’s procedures should work for all the club’s members. Some clubs in Ireland will have their constitution and membership forms on their websites. You can look at some before drawing up such documents for your own club. The IAWA can also supply generic versions of these documents.

Club Affiliation & Individual Membership to the National Governing Body (NGB) and Insurance

Clubs do not run at no cost. Annual subscription fees from your members should be set at a level that will cover the cost of the running of the club and to allow for surplus at the end of the year for the upgrade and maintenance of equipment.
When running your own club, it is important to make sure that you have suitable insurance cover in the case of an accident on your premises while training or competing is taking place and this should also cover spectators.
You can get insurance through a number of companies, but is often expensive and difficult to secure due to the nature of the sport.
Alternatively, the IAWA as the National Governing Body have specific Insurance on offer to affiliated clubs which covers Public Liability and Personal Injury for wrestling and grappling sports clubs.
For affiliated clubs to take advantage of Insurance policies through the IAWA, your club must meet the criteria.

This a brief outline of requirements for insurance cover. For full information on our insurance policies please email

PDF: I.A.W.A. Starting a Club