Sporting Connect is a brand new social network designed to link all aspects of grassroots football in the UK. The aim is to create a central hub for the wider football community – including coaches, players, referees, clubs, schools and leagues – to generate awareness, opportunities and access in a way that has never been done before.
For many years now, serious questions have been asked as to why the standard of football in the UK, especially at an international level, has failed to live up to its European counterparts. Spanish football, by contrast, goes into this summer’s European Championships as World Champions and holders of the European crown, yet Spain was thought to be in a similar position to England and the rest of the UK not so long ago. So where are things going wrong?
One of the problems commonly argued is the lack of, or accessibility to, elite football coaches to influence the standard of coaching on offer to young individuals in the UK. In Spain there are 17 players for every qualified coach, whilst in England there are 812. On June 1 2010, The Guardian published an article with these findings and, based on the statistics, the question of whether England can ever expect to produce quality footballers and compete on the world stage has been widely debated.
By creating Sporting Connect, two men motivated to do their part – one amateur and one professional footballer – have taken it upon themselves to improve access to coaching, refereeing, schools, leagues, clubs and players at the very grassroots level of the game. Whether you are a coach looking for work, a Sunday league club searching for a last minute referee or a player moving to a new area of the country and in need of a team, you will be able to find exactly what you need with the familiar ease of a social network.
On the Sporting Connect site, any one of the aforementioned parties can set up a simple profile that is absolutely free; advertising themselves, their goals, their qualifications and their experience, and begin to network with others in the same way you would do on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Sporting Connect aims to incorporate the successes of all three of these social networks by also providing Twitter-like news feeds, status updates, profile embellishment and the opportunity to provide references for and from others.
Richard Lee, club captain and long-standing goalkeeper of Brentford Football Club, is the professional footballer who, along with Rob Lovesey, decided to involve his entrepreneurial ambitions and directorship to the cause. Lee experienced a deep rooted problem first-hand whilst trying to find goalkeeper coaches for his other venture, GK Icon – a goalkeeping school dedicated to coaching goalkeepers all over the world.
“As the months passed, it soon became apparent that finding 18 goalkeeping coaches wasn't as easy as I had thought it would be. It took countless phone calls, calling in many a favour and cutting it incredibly fine before we finally assigned the 18th coach just a matter of days before our launch.
“How could it have been so difficult to find 18 coaches out of the 1000's of qualified goalkeeper coaches in the UK?”
Lee added: “What we need is a social networking site to bring all of them together and provide simple, one-step access to the many individuals all over the country desperate to involve themselves in the grassroots game.”
The Sporting Connect website, www.sportingconnect.com, is now live. For more information about the Sporting Connect story so far, check out the blog at www.sportingconnect.blogspot.co.uk or visit www.sportingconnect.com