Profile: Forest City Sport & Social Club

Profile: Forest City Sport & Social Club
by Jeffrey Reed, LondonOntarioSports.com

Many reports have been published as of late which trumpet the benefits of unstructured play amongst children. Everything from shinny to tree climbing has been lauded for getting kids away from screens and into the great outdoors.

According to a recent study from U.S.-based National Wildlife Federation, the average American youngster spends as little as 30 minutes per day in unstructured outdoor play, but spends more than seven hours per day at an electronic screen.

10410842_10155098616955632_1440979579492956398_nWhile unstructured play is important to a child’s overall well-being, so, too, are organized sports. There are many dividends resulting from structured sports participation, which offers a sense of accomplishment, and builds confidence and self-esteem.

Yet children aren’t the only ones who benefit from both unstructured and structured play. Just ask Kyla Woodcock, founder and owner of Forest City Sport & Social Club (FCSSC). There’s a good reason why Woodcock, 38, was named to Business London Magazine’s 2013 20 Under 40 list of influential young professionals in the Forest City: the Stratford native not only has a sharp business mind, but she also understands the importance of athletics in the lives of adults.

Launched in August 2009, FCSSC now includes about 12,000 participants who enjoy co-ed recreational sport leagues, tournaments, outdoor adventures and social events. Billed as “recess for adults,” FCSSC aims to improve the quality of life for adults in London through fun, friends, fitness and connection to the community.

FCSSC teamMost participants fall within the 30-something age group, but range from 19 years old to their early-60s. Woodcock said 70 per cent of participants join through word-of-mouth advertising. There are now three full-time staff, including (photo, L-R) sport manager Colin Galloway (who met his wife through participating in FCSSC), and sport and social coordinator Heather Boland, who work out the 890 Dundas Street office. As well, Woodcock (far right) has 25 part-time staff who help run activities.

Woodcock founded FCSSC because she found it challenging to meet other young professionals, and she saw a need for such an organization in London. After leaving a corporate job in Ottawa to pursue an Ivey MBA at Western University, the volleyball and flag football enthusiast strongly believed there was both a supply of young professionals who, like her, longed for fun through sports, and concurrently a demand for the product.

But FCSSC isn’t all about business. Just as kids benefit in many ways from sports, so, too, do adults.

“There are some really great stories about FCSSC,” said Woodcock. “I can think of a member who joined during a time in his life when he was starting a new chapter. He was overweight, had struggled with depression and other issues, and was just trying to get back into the community and re-connect with people.”

fsscToday, he participates in FCSSC sports three times a week, and has significantly increased his circle of friends, according to Woodcock, who said, “We have been a part of his improvement of quality of life. It’s a heart-warming story for us as organizers.”

With feel-good news like that, it’s no surprise Woodcock has successfully expanded upon her business template. In fall 2013 she founded Rose City Sport & Social Club in Windsor, now including 2,000 members in the 20-to-50 age range during four seasons of activities. Woodcock said she plans to expand into other territories, too.

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There are similar clubs around the world, including groups from Vancouver to Halifax, and in Switzerland. For years we were pummeled with the statistic that the average 60-year-old Swede was more physically fit than the average 30-year-old Canadian. We’ve closed that gap in recent years, thanks in part to groups like FCSSC and a stronger competitive sports climate from coast to coast.

But we still have a long way to go – not only amongst adults, but amongst kids, too, who would rather play games, watch videos and Skype than join a baseball team or build a tree fort.

With innovators like Woodcock helping to change that climate, perhaps it won’t be as much work blending fun and play in the future.

For more information on FCSSC, visit http://fcssc.ca.

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About jeffreyreed

A leading Canadian communications professional. Corporate office http://www.JeffreyReedReporting.com established 1989. Publisher/Editor of this website and https://londonontariogolf.com.

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