The Quantified Footy Club

This is one of those occasions when I think I have a half decent idea but no real way of making it happen nor of validating it. So I am just throwing it out here to see what people think!

I love football. Not the stuff on Sky Sports but the kind that takes place on poorly maintained pitches on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings the length and breadth of the country.

I played for, managed and organised these kind of teams. So did pretty much all my pre-Uni friends (and a lot of post Uni friends.)

I’m not that involved these days – most of my time (free or not) is taken up by thinking about or doing something digital related these days. Every now and again though I have the inkling of an idea where the two collide.

One idea I’ve been playing with for ages is something I’ve called ‘Supersubs’. A hybrid mobile and web app that was designed to help the people who volunteer to run the 125,000 FA affiliated clubs in just England.

The idea was an app that would help manage the collection of ‘subs’ – the lifeblood of most amateur teams. In changing rooms, bars and car-parks the country over this process is managed by people with scraps of paper, borrowed pens, goodwill and memory. The app would allow the ‘manager’ (or whoever) to add the team from their phone contacts list, put in an amount for subs, tick people off as they paid – keeping a running total and also send auto reminders later in the week to people who did not pay. The app would also allow the entering of outgoings (i.e. ref or pitch fees) to keep a basic balance of club income. All the data could be available via a private website – where it could be nicely visualised Fitbit style – allowing the finances of the team to be transparent.

**update 20.13: this Supersubs idea actually seems relatively well served by – though I haven’t used it the premise is certainly similar on the face of it**

This idea led to something a bit more fun. I’ve been interested in the whole ‘quantified self‘ idea with things like Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, Jawbone etc. This combined with the increased use of data in football reports via places like Opta got me thinking.

What if you could design a service that allowed someone to easily record all the major elements of a game;

– Goals
– Shots
– Freekicks
– Corners
– Bookings
– Sendings off
– Substitutions

and then visualised all of that data on a team dashboard that could be shared with players (and supporters) including match reports created by the data collection (not unlike a lot of the BBC website match reports). Players could drill in to their own data. Comments could be enabled. A data-driven football community.

It might also be possible to tie in with existing FA data to pull in league tables etc or even weather data feeds so you could see if the team are better in fair-weather or the bleak rainy season 🙂

Every team I have ever been involved in has the kind of person this would appeal to. Ex-players or long term injured who still remain involved and want to contribute. It is a feature of local football (and other team sports – rugby, cricket and netball attract the same dedication in my experience) that I love.

I call this idea ‘Futbalo’ – apparently that is Esperanto for football – which seemed like a suitably geeky combination.

**Update 20.13: I have purchased the domain though it isn’t pointing anywhere yet**

I’m sure there are some technical issues with these ideas but they strike me primarily as UX/design challenges. I think things like the Fitbit dashboard have set a high standard for how something like this should look and the interactions in the data collection process would have to be extremely well thought out to succeed.

Well thats my idea(s). Any thoughts?

6 responses to “The Quantified Footy Club”

  1. I think this has real promise. In fact I can think of another use for this — actually tracking/communicating with players. The guys I play with after work always have trouble managing the list of who’s playing and who isn’t, leading to all sorts of team imbalances and last minute cancellations.

    Really this could also have the potential to be a Tinder (!!!) for football — find games nearby / and also confirm your attendance for regular matches?

    You know what, the FA should develop this!

  2. Dear Matt,

    I saw your tweet, but my answer needs a bit more than the limited space available there. I am not into football, but I love everything local (especially when it’s about activities that, undeservedly, never see the spotlight), UX design, and coding. I think that your idea is a winner, but if you really don’t have the time to do it yourself, maybe some crowdsourced / collaborative effort can make it a reality.

    Since you have the vision of it, I think it would be best if you hold the steering wheel. I.e. register the name, set a roadmap, set the mission and goals. Then call for all the geeks whom you know to donate some of their time.

    You can count on us for a few hours every week if this project kick starts.

    Best of luck!

  3. Cheers!

    Yea the communication side of it was something I thought of as well – was always a pain when I ran clubs and still is for friends. Also you could integrate with Twitter/Fb/Mailchimp or whatever.

    A lot of the thinking behind it is about supporting the grassroots game – the FA should already being doing more in that space!

  4. Thanks Manuel – if there looks to be some support for the idea I’ll certainly take your advice. I was wondering about running it as a Kickstarter campaign? Certainly something to think about.

  5. Matt,

    3 things spring to mind:

    1. Local football generates a lot of enthusiasm, so it should be ripe for a good quality app.
    2. Who is already doing something? You’d need to map the competition in a pretty comprehensive way.
    3. What’s the real core of the enthusiasm? I keep thinking that this should be something really simple that nails the core of the attraction of running round a crap pitch in Barton Hill. It would be easy to layer on functionality, but I think the difficulty here is really understanding what to leave out. Teamer is about the process of organising a team, not why you play. I like the Opta style stats, but what can you do with them? Could I compare them across leagues, bet on them, create a ‘team of the week’ … how do I avoid people gaming it?

    You should go for it…

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