Glenn Ottaway is the 2013 Intrust Super Cup Premiership winning CEO of The Skills Training Mackay Cutters. I’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Glenn over a number of years and we enjoy regular conversations. It’s obviously been more than exciting watching the results! At the completion of his second year as CEO he has transformed his franchise into a thriving championship organisation on the field and in the boardroom. The QLD state wide Rugby League competition caters for rising stars on their way up to the NRL.
2013 was the most successful year in our organisations history. Full credit needs to go to the playing group and coaching staff for this achievement but I have reflected on how we recruited a premiership winning team on a minimal budget.
The Mackay Cutters are a 100% community funded, not for profit organisation. All monies raised are through the local community via corporate support and match attendance. For this reason our playing budget is minimal and all players are required to work full time as well as meet the demands of Rugby League training and playing at an elite level.
They don’t play for the money!
Players at this level often handle contract negotiations themselves, without player manager interference. Frankly, the money they earn is not enough to get their manager a cut anyway.
They all like to have a win in the negotiation process but at the heart of it they are playing for the opportunity or the pure love of the game. We also have a set payment structure so that all players know their boundaries, and the reasons for these boundaries, when negotiations start.
We not only reward players for on field performance but also their loyalty to our club. As a club with very limited history, we acknowledge those in the playing group that have been a part of that history and make others earn it.
Show the love!
Professional athletes are unfortunately often considered a commodity. At the very top this is probably more so the case but at this level they need to know that despite restrictions, you will do everything you can to make them and their families as comfortable as possible. It can be as simple as having them over for dinner or having a BBQ after training. It is easy to forget that 20 year olds tend to live on takeaway – we all did it.
From a football perspective, providing services that cannot be afforded via a playing contract and are often taken for granted at the full-time professional level also goes a long way. We signed sponsorship agreements with physiotherapists, doctors, radiographers and dentists. We try to give our players the best medical care available in the community and due to club sponsorship they have minimal contribution. Even sponsorship with the local sports store means that players don’t pay full price for boots. All very minor details but if you show it, players feel the love.
Don’t promise the world, then deliver an atlas!
Someone once explained the recruitment process to me as fantasy footy with real money. As a relative rookie in this position it was awfully tempting to promise the world to players in the hope of winning the competition. My fear was delivering an atlas. Players in our club were explicitly aware of what we could and could not afford. As stated above, they all like to have a win at the negotiating table but there is no sense in promising what you can’t deliver. I never wanted to be in a position where I had to front the playing group and say we could not pay the wages.
Seems simple enough, but in a competition without a salary cap there is always the temptation to offer more. I always put very close to our best offer forward in the initial contract and if the offer was not in the ball park, we shook hands and parted ways.
As with any job in high performance sport there are pressures and expectations. Despite being a CEO, I come from a coaching background. I’ve learned the importance of building relationships, being competitive and creating a culture.
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