Grassroots apps tackle the challenge of weekend sport


“We worked really hard in the early days to get into football [AFL] because it drives many communities and a family with a child who plays AFL might have another child who plays netball and might play cricket in another season, so it spreads that way. Once we got that penetration through AFL, we targeted soccer and now soccer is the biggest sport in our app both globally and in Australia.”

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In the Ditton household in Enmore, in Sydney’s inner west, parents Alicia and Anthony use TeamStuff, also based in Melbourne, for son Angus’s soccer.

“I love it because I get to see who’s going to soccer that we could get a lift with, and the coach gets to see who is going to turn up,” Ms Ditton said.

The family uses general messaging app WhatsApp for daughter Elodie’s netball. Ms Ditton has used Teamer for her own netball, but the team has since switched back to WhatsApp.

Mr Ditton said the soccer season was only two weeks in but he was already appreciating the value of TeamStuff for scheduling and RSVPs, though he missed the banter of WhatsApp.

Many surf life saving clubs use TeamApp to organise club activities, including Nippers programs for children. The app was also chosen for the NSW state and country championships and the national championships.

Surf Life Saving NSW spokeswoman Donna Wishart said it was useful for surf events because of the ability to update timetable information in real time.

“The timetable changes often because of surf conditions, events are postponed and you might have three separate water areas,” Ms Wishart said. “We normally have a person with a loudspeaker on the beach and this is the first step for us to get more innovative with our use of technology.”

Similar to other sports, the adoption has come from the grassroots. “Lots of clubs have been using it longer than we have and that’s why we chose TeamApp – because the clubs were already using it and familiar with it,” Ms Wishart said.

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Meanwhile, Netball Live Scores, developed by World Sport Action in Mona Vale, is under trial at Manly Warringah Netball Association and Northern Suburbs Netball Association. Manly Warringah competition secretary Jeanie Ashley said the app would reduce paperwork for the association.

“Spectators can keep up to date in their children’s games and they don’t even have to be at the game to know what the score is and how long is left in the game,” Ms Ashley added.

Some apps, such as TeamStuff, have a “freemium” model, where the basic app is free, but parents can pay to upgrade to a premium version with more functionality.

Others, like TeamApp, are always free and backed by advertising, often giving clubs a cut of the action. Teamer is based in Britain, while TeamSnap is based in the United States.

Caitlin Fitzsimmons is the associate editor of The Sun-Herald and a columnist.

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