London FA : Increasing Playing Opportunities
This February, Football Matcher went to the office of the London FA to showcase our platform and discuss how to get more people playing football by removing barriers, building community and making organising easy.
Beer for ideas anyone?
At Football Matcher, we believe its really important to be guided by our user ideas & feedback. This is why for over a year, we’ve been holding beer & idea sessions down the pub with our alpha users! You can read more about our user feedback led approach here.
We looked at the barriers to participation and how the pain points of organising can reduce the number of playing opportunities due to the burden of organising. We also wanted to hear from the London FA about what they've observed is stopping more people from playing and organising.
What we shared with the London FA
We focussed on the insights we’ve gained from the conversations we've had with current and ex organisers to the London FA. From these discussions it became apparent that in order to get more people playing, you first need to tackle the problems with the growth of playing opportunities. By making organising easier, we believe more people will organise games, resulting in more opportunities to play.
These problems seem common throughout all levels of organising football:
Collecting subs from players: Most of the organisers we spoke to complained about being left short after each game, as some players forgot to pay or dropped out at last minute. Some attempted to solve this problem by making everyone do a bank transfer before the game. Other organisers kept track of who paid via a spreadsheet. Two people, we spoke to just stopped organising as they got sick of people not paying. When pitch hire costs in central locations can be over £100 a game, we can’t blame them!
Managing player numbers: Whether it’s organising a casual weekly kickaround or managing a team, in both cases the same problem of struggling with getting enough players or having too many exist. These problems can also have an impact on the number of playing opportunities, as some players can’t play due to to a game/team being oversubscribed whereas other games don’t happen due to the lack of numbers.
Scheduling games: Finding a time and a day when enough players can play whilst also finding a pitch that is available at the same time, is a big problem. Many organisers would like to play more fixtures, but are reluctant, due to the extra admin involved.
Football Matcher has built a platform to deal we these issues. However, we are aware that are many other barriers need to be dealt with to encourage more people to play.
These are some of the common barriers that people brought up in our feedback sessions, who stated an interest in playing or have recently stopped.
Affordability: The high cost of playing, especially in central locations in cities, can put players off. Also, a lot of players stated frustration at organisers that charge a fixed fee and don’t reduce the price as more players accept for a game, as they felt the player price should get cheaper.
Availability: People stated that they would love to play more, however they struggle with having enough time whilst balancing the pressures of work and family, especially when kids are involved. Playing is made even harder when the games aren’t played near the home, where a lot of time is wasted travelling to and from the venue. Finally, some people are put off when games are played at prime times such as Saturdays or week day evenings as they have other commitments.
Accessibility: People want to play with other people of a similar age, sex, fitness and skill levels. Unfortunately, players often have to put up with playing in games just because they are available but are not what they are really after. It’s difficult to discover and join new games at a level suitable for them. This is especially relevant for female footballers trying to find a sutable game.
Commitment Required: Due to the demands of modern-day living, many players cannot commit to the weekly training or fixtures for a club. Some may have been able to do this when they were younger.
Many players that are actively playing in casual weekly games are still finding they are missing the more competitive types of games. They would love more opportunities to play competitively without the weekly commitment of a club.
Football Matcher shared our roadmap & vision to deal with all these issues with the London FA. In addition to this, we also want to align the plaform with the wider Football Association vision which encourages more participation in football.
Watch this space for new feature announcements. If you feel there is any other another aspect we have missed, feel free to add a comment below.