How to form a sports club

Forming a sports club in New Zealand is an exciting venture that not only fosters community engagement but also contributes to the vibrant sports culture of the country. Whether you're passionate about rugby, cricket, or any other sport, this comprehensive step by step guide will walk you through how to successfully establish your own sports club in New Zealand.

Step 1: Define Your Vision and Objectives

Before diving into the logistics, clearly define the purpose and goals of your sports club. Consider the type of sport, target audience, and the impact you want to make in your community. This foundational step will guide all your subsequent decisions.

Perhaps this is best thought of, "where do you want to club to be in 5 years"; what will you have achieved if it goes well?

Step 2: Assemble a Core Team

Gather like-minded individuals who share your passion and vision. Your club structure should consist of a Management Committee (which might be a board of directors; or not) to assist in various aspects of club management, such as administration, coaching, marketing, and financial management.

A well-rounded team ensures the smooth functioning of the sports club. For this reason, it is recommended to wisely choose your club management roles to suit the current needs of the club. You will need to ensure regular committee meetings. These meetings could choose to align to general member club meetings or gatherings; but they may benefit from being at different timings to ensure productivity.

To find members who want to help form a new club, you could consider finding local community groups like on Facebook Groups (for example Greenlane (NZ) Community Page) where you have broad access to local people. You could also try local community notice boards (sometimes found in supermarkets).

Three people shaking hands

You will want to start with some meetings and defining roles within the club. More information about this can be found on the sportsnz website

Step 3: Develop a Constitution and Rules

Draft a club constitution outlining the type of club, structure, objectives, and club rules. This document serves as a guide for the club's operations, including membership criteria, decision-making processes, and dispute resolution mechanisms.

You can use the template here for creating your constitution.

Step 4: Register Your Club

To give your sports club legal recognition, register it with the appropriate authorities. In New Zealand, this usually involves incorporating your club as an incorporated society or registering as an official legal entity with the Companies Office

We recommend your seek legal advice on which structure is right for your club, but one of the structures you may consider is an incorporated society:

Incorporated societies

There are some benefits to incorporated societies. Some of these are:

There are requirements for forming these structures which are:

An incorporated society isn't necessary; you can still use other company structures if your club is smaller.

Charitable organizations

Creating a sports club isn't necessarily a charitable thing. Sports clubs can however qualify as charities if they meet the following criteria:

Being a charity comes with some benefits for funding (from funders who only fund registered charities). It does however come with increased legal obligations. These are detailed on this page which details the purposes you could use in apply to be a charity.

The process for how to apply for charitable status is detailed here. The main call out being that it is an application process; and it requires a charitable purpose from one of the four categories defined. For sports these purposes are generally `Advancing Education` or `Beneficial to the community` categories.

Get advice

If you are starting small, then you may find neither an incorporated society or being a charitable organization makes sense. Initially you could just register as a company or through yourselves as individuals. As mentioned earlier, you should seek advice from a lawyer on this.

You should also consult with your lawyer to understand all relevant regulations you must follow to remain compliant. SportNZ provide a good guide of some of the legal requirements that are relevant to running a club.

Tax considerations

Tax registration

You will need to register for an IRD number for your company or incorporated society. You can find details on how to do this on the IRD website

Tax exemption

After you have done these steps you may want to apply for tax exemption. You should engage with an accountant on this (at least to get advice on structuring but also potentially to help run the clubs accounts), and note that the IRD have the process document here

We found on this blog about incorporating clubs a sample letter for applying for tax exemption which is a good template to use to get started.

Step 5: Fundraising and Resources

The management committee next needs to Identify potential funding sources, including grants, sponsorships, and registration fees. Create a budget detailing expected expenses for equipment, suitable facilities, and promotional activities. Seek partnerships with local businesses and sports organizations to support your club financially. This should be done via either a fundraising committee or an individual with fundraising responsibility. This article details how you should go about your fundraising

You may want to start your funding search with the following links:

You will want to ensure you have bank accounts setup early to facilitate receiving of grants or funding; and to facilitate clean accounting.

Step 6: Establish Club Policies

The club committee should also develop policies related to safety, code of conduct, and member responsibilities. These policies contribute to a positive and inclusive club culture, ensuring the well-being and enjoyment of all participants.

A good start for club policies can be found on

Step 7: Build Facilities and Infrastructure

Secure appropriate facilities for training and competitions. Whether it's a local sports ground, community center, or school facility, ensure you have the necessary permissions and agreements in place. Invest in essential equipment and amenities for your chosen sport.

As a part of owning / managing equipment, it is important to ensure you have correct levels of insurance (including various types of insurance such as public liability insurance). We recommend searching around different providers but have included one provider below to get a sense of what options are there:

To ensure proper coverage an insurance advisor could be wise. You can find registered ones in New Zealand here (or by google).

Step 8: Recruit Members and Promote Your Club

6 young soccer players waiting on a bench

Launch marketing campaigns to attract members. Utilize social media, local newspapers, and community events to create awareness. Offer introductory sessions or workshops to engage potential members and generate excitement about your sports club.

You may also want to think about how you position your club marketing wise. Is it going to be an amateur club; social organsization; casual sports association; or a club focused towards high level competition.

You may want to consider looking for cheap or cost effective tools (like for easing the pain of manually processing memberships and payment.

Step 9: Organize Inaugural Events

Host inaugural events, such as open days, friendly matches, or tournaments to showcase the social aspects of your club to the community. This not only generates interest but also provides an opportunity for members to connect and feel a sense of belonging.

Some events might more tournament focused like this tennis example or they could be social centric catchups like shown on this Facebook group: Napier Aquahawks Swim Club - Facebook group. They could even be as simple as a summer barbeque. We have a guide on how to create a facebook group (thats optimized for sports communities; teams and coaches) here.

Step 10: Maintain Engagement and Growth 

Consistently engage with your community through regular communication, events, and social media. Encourage member involvement in decision-making processes and seek feedback for continuous improvement. As your club membership grows, consider expanding activities and partnerships to further enrich the sporting experience for all involved.

Some options you might consider are:

Step 11: Ensure continued compliance

There will be certain activities that are reoccurring in nature. We recommend making a calendar (with a tool such as Google Calendar or Microsoft Outlook Calendar) with the various activities in it. Some of these activities are mentioned below:


Establishing a sports club in New Zealand is a rewarding journey that requires careful planning, dedication, and community engagement. By following these steps, you can lay a strong foundation for your sports club, contributing to the growth of sports culture and fostering a sense of camaraderie within your community.