Eduard Escandell, president of Club Natació Granollers, warns that “facing the reality of managing the competition from private entities is one of the main challenges for swimming clubs”
Competition from private entities is a reality nowadays, and knowing what the needs of members are and giving them good reasons to continue being a member is an obligation for any club that wants to guarantee its income and survival.
The CNGranollers swimming club has, for a long time, been a source of pride for the city in Vallés Oriental. At the club’s facilities, a partner entity of the Johan Cruyff Institute, they have trained great athletes whose successes in national and international competitions have put Granollers, in general, and CNGranollers, in particular, on the map of the world’s elite in swimming, synchronized swimming, water polo and artistic gymnastics. Such is the case of the gymnast Gervasio Deferr, gold medallist in the vault at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games; the swimmer Daniel Morales, competitor in Sydney in the 4×100 m individual medley; Agustí Pericas, runner-up in the junior water polo world championship; Laia Pons, bronze medallist in team synchronized swimming at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and Esther Jaumà, who was subsequently announced as head coach of the national synchronized team, together with Anna Vives, also a CNGranollers coach.
But beyond the projection that the club has experienced due to its success in professional sport, managing the day-to-day of its facilities and serving its members, who have chosen its offer of activities, is the big challenge for CNGranollers and its president, Eduard Escandell.
CNGranollers recently signed a collaboration agreement with the Johan Cruyff Insitute in a clear commitment to the training of its athletes, members and staff. In this interview, Eduard Escandell reveals to us the present and future challenges facing his entity.
What are the main challenges that swimming clubs face in Spain and Catalonia? And CN Granollers in particular?
The main challenges we have right now at swimming clubs, both at the state level and in Catalonia, is to face the reality of managing the competition from private entities that are increasingly managing more, and we are competing more with them in terms of management and attracting new members and users of the facilities. The interesting part that will always differentiate us is that we are professionals in teaching in the aquatic environment and we need to know how to exploit that in a way that is attractive enough so that members and users consider us to be a point of reference. This leads us to be better managers of our facilities and to want to be able to manage efficiently.
Today the club has five heated swimming pools, an artistic gymnastics room, a fitness room, a full range of guided activities and a paddle tennis court. In your opinion, what is the most important thing in a sports facility plan? Can you share with us what the objectives are in your current facility plan?
The most important thing at a sports facility, referring to Club Natació Granollers and other swimming club facilities, is evidently the water management, from an efficient point of view, and that it is, environmentally speaking, effective and respectful. But, above all, taking into account what type of members we have around us and adapting to their needs, offering a series of products that are sufficiently attractive so that the members and users will stay and be loyal to our facilities.
You have recognized athletes in swimming, water polo, synchronized swimming and artistic gymnastics. Johan always said that well-trained athletes were the ideal candidates to lead sports organizations. Do you agree?
I believe that the lessons that sport gives us from the grassroots to the high competition level, are based on commitment, being constant, being methodical, and that enables us to be people with certain values that can ensure we are, a priori, good managers. In fact, in Anglo-Saxon countries, one of the things that companies most look for when they hire certain managers, of all the so-called ‘soft skills’, is whether they have practiced sport at any institution, because that can guarantee to a large extent that they are people predisposed to work and sacrifice, and to perseverance, and to knowing how to work in a team and lead these teams.
At CNGranollers there are two former students of ours. What does it mean for you to have an agreement with the Johan Cruyff Institute?
As you say, there are two people at CNGranollers who studied the Master in Sport Management at the Johan Cruyff Institute, the executive director and the marketing director, as well as a third person who is doing an internship at the club and the Official Master’s Degree in Sport Management at the institute. For us, it is very important to evaluate and conceptualize the teaching of the Johan Cruyff Institute, applying it to the reality of our club on the one hand and, on the other, to the type of quality training that we can guarantee our athletes, since it is very difficult to guarantee quality teaching with high-level sport. Also, the training of our technical staff and workers that we will be able to connect with the Johan Cruyff Institute. We share many values, as we have said many times, and that will guarantee us that, with this collaboration agreement, we can continue to grow and improve in the management and training of our people.
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