Digital Transformation of Grassroots Football and Football Academies
At TISA, we emphasise the importance of the thoughtful use of technology and comprehensive strategies at the professional sports level, but also at the very foundation – the grassroots. Not only is grassroots football important as the starting block for player pathways, but even more so in supporting millions of people across the country in maintaining healthy and active lifestyles.
The importance of grassroots football and football academies is becoming more prominent, as more football federations and clubs highlight it. The English Football Association will invest £180m in grassroots football in England over the next four years.
This article will bring closer the meaning and importance of grassroots football in the sports industry.
Today you will learn about:
What exactly is grassroots football;
The benefits of investing in youth teams/academies;
The technology used at the grassroots/academy level;
Tips on how to improve the team with technology.
GRASSROOTS FOOTBALL – WHAT IS IT?
Over 14 million people participate in grassroots football every year, making football the most popular team sport in England for children and adults. As the name suggests, grassroots football is the most fundamental level of football played between teams of all ages, at various locations, including school football pitches or local parks. It is not strictly administered and does not necessarily have developed infrastructure. But nonetheless, it provides excellent football talent and brings the local community together.
Grassroots football allows young players to have a feeling of belonging, to interact with other teammates, and most importantly, makes them visible to major football scouts. 85% (22 out of 26 players) of Gareth Southgate’s UEFA EURO 2020 squad started their football journeys at the grassroots level with clubs affiliated to County Football Associations. Now that’s a massive journey to the top!
BENEFITS OF INVESTING IN GRASSROOTS AND FOOTBALL ACADEMIES
Youth is the future
In order for the sports clubs to thrive, they need to invest in producing new players and providing them with facilities and equipment. Football teams, regardless of the level, need to adopt a new mindset. They must be aware that their industry competes with the entertainment and leisure industry.
The world of sport is suffering from the increasing absence of representatives of Generation Z. Many young people abandon football and other sports in favour of Esports. Creating and developing grassroots teams or football academies is an excellent opportunity to attract the youth and create a sense of attachment. Thanks to this, the youths will be convinced to return to the football pitch or the stadium, and a new generation of players and fans will be born filling out the existing gap.
Supplying your local community with a chance for the youth to excel at their favourite sport boosts future generations. In return, local businesses or authorities may offer their help and sponsorship, which will increase your budget.
Technology in grassroots and academies
The extent of the use of technology heavily depends on the budget level of the organisation. As more money has gone into the youth academies of professional football teams, the costs of adaptation of technology were not a barrier. This is where the amateur and grassroots level of football is underdeveloped.
Youth academies of the top football teams already use cutting-edge technology aimed at the fitness and health of the players. This includes equipment such as GPS trackers, heart-rate monitors, advanced cameras, flying drones and many more. Technology allows players’ physical outputs and movement to be closely tracked, their every touch on the ball recorded and broken down and logged in a database. Slowly more and more football teams of various levels introduce such solutions.
However, monitoring your players’ vitals and fitness is only a fragment of what the technology can bring into your grassroots team or football academy.
Can you imagine planning and visualising drills virtually like in FIFA or Football Manager? There is suitable software for this! The English Football Associationofficially adopted the i-Drills app a few years ago and has been developing it ever since. The application has been designed to facilitate the learning of new training exercises – both for players and coaches of grassroots and academy teams.
Apart from i-Drills, there are more training apps for coaches such as Spiideo, an automated sports video recording solution. With the use of multiple cameras coaches and trainers can capture the material for efficient analysis, give feedback to their players and stream content online.
Managing your football academy
As your football academy grows in the number of students or branches out to a different location, you must choose the optimal solution for managing the academy. When dealing with a football academy, you face challenges like managing the attendance of your students, managing payments and receipts, and handling enquiries and communication.
Content Management System
Nowadays, all businesses and organisations need a reliable and responsive way of sharing content for their clients. Acontent management system (CMS) is an application used to manage web content, allowing multiple contributors to create, edit and publish. A CMS tool enables the academy to quickly and legibly share information about the news, time schedules, or other important info with young players or their parents.
An example of a functional CMS tool is TISA’sUMPIRE – an integrated content management system that helps sports organisations enhance their communication across all digital platforms, boost fan engagement, and build community.
Speaking of content, it is as vital on the grassroots level as on the Premier League level. Captivating content must be designed and planned carefully, but on the other hand, it must be highly responsive to current trends and events.
As we have said before, football academies must combat the lack of engagement from Generation Z. Building a strong content campaign around a football idol or a successful academy graduate will influence children and teenagers to join or support the team
Youth academies and grassroots football teams have brought up generations of talented football players – such as Manchester United’s Class of 92’. However this century has revealed entirely new challenges. On one hand today’s teams deal with challenges like the lack of engagement from Gen Z, but on the other grassroots football teams are provided with modern technology, which sometimes comes at no cost. One thing remains the same – youth level of football has always been essential and beneficial to the community and sports organisations.
Are you looking for more information about digital transformation in the sports industry? Visit our website to learn more about dedicated products and innovations designed for sports. To find out more about how TISA can help your organisation thrive in the digital world, contact us directly – we will be happy to talk about your case. And if you’d like to join our team and help us create the best digital solutions for the world of sports, check out our current career opportunities.