A strong internal sports community benefits employees and employers alike. But it also has the potential to into local community and beyond as adidas employees across Russia and fellow Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) have found out over the past two years. What started as a way to make colleagues even more active resulted in 58,000 Instagram mentions and 12,000 followers across Russia and CIS.

I was lucky to be a part of the team, and I would like to spill the beans on how we turned an internal sports community into a fitness phenomenon across Russia and beyond.

Sport has become a universal trending passion, attracting more and more fans around the world. Therefore, the question of the day is: how to build a strong community and change people’s lives through sport? Here are four simple, but thoughtful steps.

1. Define culture

Sport is a 100% authentic and unfiltered experience. It unifies people of completely different backgrounds and interests. It blurs any barriers. As it is, it’s a perfect foundation for a strong movement and a real source of inspiration. But, just like people, sport has thousands of characters. Is it mindful yoga or energetic football? Gracious ballet or hardcore weightlifting? What is your kind of sport?

Culture always stands strong as a base of any great community and movement. Define your style and values which are meant to fascinate your followers. They should deliver an answer to just one simple question: ‘Why?’ If your community members clearly understand, feel and implement the ‘Why?’, then you are totally off the charts.

A group of people in the same outfit are running together behind each other. Running: Team; Workout; Motivation; Creators' Games
People of different backgrounds are unified by sport.
A group of people are dancing on a stage while people in front of the stage join in. Reebok; adidas; Creaters' Games; Team; Workout; Motivation
Followers need to be fascinated by a movement.
A man is pictured running in a race with other runners following him. Running; Race; Competiton; Motivation; Athlete
Sport can be a great source of inspiration.
A group of men are doing pull ups at a bar while they are being monitored by referees. Crossfit; Motivation; Competition; Hard work; Workout
Whether it’s CrossFit or ballet, sport has many different characters.
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2. Provide infrastructure

As for a leader of a sports community, one of your main responsibilities is to offer the right infrastructure to your team members, so they feel comfortable and are willing to do sports. ‘Right’ infrastructure means not just good equipment or a sports field. It’s also an atmosphere and climate that you build in your community.

Naturally, sport is inclusive in all its manifestations: you can always find a program that makes your heartbeat speed up from excitement. No matter the level or background, everyone should feel welcomed and appreciated here. That gives you a key to people’s hearts, and that is what truly resonates.

3. Build strong teams

Building a community may look like an easy task: just pull a crowd, provide them with an infrastructure, and you are all set. But don’t leave it to chance. People will join you once or twice, but if they don’t have a reason to stay, they will never make it a community.

What is the difference between communities and crowds? Communities have something special that crowds don’t: a sense of ownership for the common victories and culture, and mutual support between people. Share your inspiration, respect your followers and listen to them. If you pay some extra attention, you will notice what exactly they need to become your ambassadors.

A group of cheerleaders and an athlete are performing on a field surrounded by a big crowd. Dance; Field; Motivation; Passion; Collaboration; adidas; Reebok; GamePlan A
Sport is inclusive in all its forms, no matter the level or background of its athletes.
A woman in the audience is passionately cheering during a competition. Motivation; Cheer; Passion; adidas; Reebok; GamePlan A; Competition
Comradery and vocal support is visible at every Creators’ Games event.
A group of cheerleaders is holding one girl up on their hands next to a track field. Cheerleading; Motivation; Sports; Competition; Motivation; Collaboration
A common goal unites a community ready to give more.
A smiling woman in sports gear is hugging another woman on a track field. Motivation; Passion; Competition; Adidas; Reebok; GamePlan A
In a strong community, you win and lose together.
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4. Go social, go viral

Social media has an incredible impact on people’s opinions, moods and preferences. It’s a catalyst for cultural changes. Use it wisely, so it generates buzz among your people, because that’s just what you need. If you’ve followed the first three steps, you have a community of enthused individualities united by one goal.

Each one of them is unique, but all of them are dying to share their experience! Provide them with that opportunity, share your energy with the world. Create meaningful content which attracts more followers sincerely engaged by your topic and ready to be a part of your wonderful team!

*Creators’ Games is a sports competition featuring track and field, functional training, football and cheer-dance disciplines. It united more than 12,000 adidas CIS employees and consumers all over Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan during 2016 and 2017.

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