Innovation can be defined as the adoption of a new idea or behaviour. It is an important function of organizational effectiveness and an organization’s ability to survive CSOs often need to innovate a result of changes in the environment or societal pressures. This may include changing technologies, demographics and a multitude of threats that could arise in an organization’s external environment. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is inevitable and important that organizations adapt their programming to meet the changing needs of society. But the ability of CSOs to return to play in any fashion, let alone implement new programming and engage in innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic, was dependent on directives from their governing organizations and the organization’s ability to acquire and utilize critical resources, such as human support and external funding. Clubs that did not have the capacity to meet the guidelines set by their governing bodies or the capacity to create new innovations within those guidelines, may not have been able to successfully complete those changes.
Thousands of athletes and coaches across Canada participate in organized sports (Solutions Research Group Consultants Inc., 2014; Gumulka, Barr, Lasby & Brownlee, 2005). Community sport organizations (CSOs) are critical in the quest for youth sport participation and without them, athletes and coaches would not be able to participate to the same extent (Patterson and Parent, 2017). Soccer remains one of Canada’s most popular sports (Solutions Research Group Consultants Inc., 2014). The nation’s biggest province, Ontario, is the home to more than 600 youth soccer clubs, contributing to more than 10,000 members (Ontario Soccer, 2020). In the Elgin Middlesex region of London, Ontario alone, there are twenty-seven different clubs that youth soccer players can join (Elgin Middlesex District Soccer League, 2020). Although this provides young players with a plethora of options, it may also create unnecessary competition between clubs for players and coaches (Edwards & Washington, 2013; Hall et al., 2003). This study aims to identify the elements of organizational capacity and leadership that may be valuable for CSOs to ensure athlete and coach attraction and retention, while avoiding athlete and coach transfer from one club to another within the same municipality.