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Northcote City FC implements digital coaching as part of its long-term strategy

Although the deferral of state-wide football has created an enormous void for Victorians throughout 2020, an unlikely silver lining as emerged. Clubs have used the crisis as an opportunity to implement digital training platforms and build stronger community engagement through virtual channels.

Northcote City FC is the latest Victorian club to take this approach, adopting the digital platform My Personal Football Coach (MPFC) to add its current catalogue of mobile initiatives.

The club is optimistic that its digital strategy will do far more than provide a short-term solution to the COVID-19 induced lockdown and instead become a valuable asset for its football department.

Michael Skliros, President of Northcote City FC, said he was “thrilled” to modernise the club’s processes and that the platform will help to take player and coach development to a new level.

“From our perspective, we are renown for our junior program, and we invest heavily into it. As part of this we believe it is important to equally invest in both players and coaches,” Skliros said.

“It’s not a stop-gap, it’s a value add that is going to form part of the club’s overall philosophy. MPFC will contribute to our coaching program and help the club maintain its position as a leader by continually evolving its methods.”

MPFC contains hundreds of ball mastery skill videos and position-specific coaching drills that cover all ages and abilities. Crucially, the platform is designed to include many drills which allow players to train with minimal equipment and in small spaces, making it highly adaptable and accessible.

“We chose the MPFC because it’s one of the leading global platforms and is used by some of the biggest clubs and academies in the world. It’s run by academy coaches who have experience at leading EPL clubs and deployed at the some of the best academies in the world, like Chelsea FC and Wolverhampton,” Skliros said.

“Despite the lack of football this year we haven’t seen the interest drop off at all – the craving to play is at an all-time high. The people want something there to fill the void and the digital training satisfies that.”

Since adopting MPFC recently, Northcote City FC’s community has responded strongly, with participation rates for training being extremely healthy.

Up to 85 per cent of players in some Northcote City squads are actively using the platform.

“It has been a smooth transition. We are seeing teams with 80 to 85 per cent uptake, which is an extremely high rate for a new platform in any industry. You would think 30 to 40 per cent would be the benchmark to start with but we have had an extremely high uptake,” Skliros said.

For Northcote City’s coaching staff, MPFC is assisting them to communicate effectively with their players remotely. They are able to set tailored, individual training plans which the players can execute and then upload footage, allowing their coaches to provide constructive feedback.

Coaches can further set challenges for their players, track player attendance, and keep training fresh and exciting by tapping into the vast catalogue of specialised drills that are available on the platform.

The value of MPFC is very much a two-way street with players also benefiting from all of these features. Furthermore, the platform allows players to maintain competitive training standards by tracking their training loads and performance on team leader boards.

Along with the practical tools MPFC provides, there is a substantial opportunity for knowledge sharing. Northcote City FC has equipped its players and staff with a ‘Coach’s Pass’ to the platform, opening a world of podcasts, blogs, and analysis that anyone in the club can access to build their knowledge of the game.

“This is another example of the value of incorporating digital training and shows why it will become a part of the overall coaching philosophy. The services we are gaining will provide us resources to benefit every part of the club,” Skliros said.

While MPFC is assisting Northcote City FC to maintain momentum in 2020, the club has invested, and continues to invest in a range of other off-field tools to help its players and staff achieve on-field success.

“Our NPL streams are starting to move towards becoming elite-style programs with education on nutrition and the use of partner medical clinics where our players gain free treatment, physio, performance-based testing, and improved strength and conditioning,” Skliros said.

“We’re broadening out our program to include initiatives that target health and wellbeing and are committed to extend this experience to everyone, not just registered players, but family as well.”

“As part of this we have players in our program from ages four to 55 and have focused on inclusivity, social style competitions, and also begun a campaign for soccer mums.”

Northcote City’s approach to create a well-rounded, holistic program will form part of the club’s strategy to develop elite talent, build the strength of its community, and return to Victoria’s National Premier League (NPL).

Following a turbulent decade where the club won the NPL in 2013 before being relegated five years later in 2018, Skliros is optimistic that the board’s progressive approach will help it to realise its goals both on and off the pitch.

“There are a lot of things in the pipeline that we couldn’t deliver due to COVID-19, but we are still working on. There is a bigger focus now more than ever to get people active again and we are putting a lot of emphasis into the overall health and wellbeing of our community,” he said.

Tappit offers the cashless solution 

Tappit is a global provider of cashless solutions that can help events, attractions, stadiums and venues to increase profit, gain insights and improve fan experiences. 

Tappit is a global provider of cashless solutions that can help events, attractions, stadiums and venues to increase profit, gain insights and improve fan experiences. 

Founded in 2018, Tappit has quickly become the cashless experts, having already complied an impressive client list including Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Padres, Formula One and Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Tappit strives to enhance live event experiences for fans, providing technology and data to the organisers to get the best out of what they intend to do. All this links towards improving customer experiences, giving a greater return on profitability.

As more and more people make the switch towards cashless, they will find it easy, fast and convenient to use. It boosts profits for organisations and gives a safer environment for fans. 

The solutions provided by Tappit are suitable for sports clubs or any other similar organisers. 

Tappit Mobile Pay: Puts the app at the centre of all customer activities to set a new standard in fan experience. Through a seamless, single mobile ecosystem, there can be contactless payments, access control, loyalty and ticketing all in the one place, with benefits to match. 

  • Safe – Keeping guests and staff as safe as possible in relation to COVID-19 protocols. By eliminating the need for physical cash, this minimises human contact. Not only this, but secure QR technology will significantly reduce the risk of fraud and theft. 
  • Frictionless – Creating a seamless spending experience for events will maximise fan engagement. This means communication is integrated directly inside the app so customers have everything they require in one destination. Understanding fan’s end-to-end spending habits is highly rewarding. 
  • Simple – The easy-to-use Mobile Pay software is a straightforward upgrade to an existing POS system. There is minimal hardware investment or staff training involved, while the QR code technology creates a familiar customer experience for all fan demographics. 
  • Fully agnostic – Tappit do not compete with banking partners, so Mobile Pay can be integrated with loyalty schemes, reward initiatives and existing venue & financial partners. Tappit provides complementary solutions to enhance the work of an organisation’s partners.
  • Increase value for sponsors – A complete customer view ensures that sponsors can understand who their VIPs are and the best ways to target them. Selecting Tappit’s white label solution enables the creation of a new sponsorship category and provides the organisation with new assets to monetise. 
  • Completely understanding fans – Overseeing the customers’ spending journey and retaining the relevant data will introduce access to the most valuable business insights. This gives a better glimpse into how to attract and engage attendees and increase the event’s profitability simultaneously. 

Cashless RFID system: Improving fan experience, boost takings and gather 360 customer insights without the need of WiFi at the venue. Tappit’s cashless RFID technology delves deeper than just contactless payments. 

  • Boost profitability – The positives of eliminating cash are almost endless in their possibilities, with the trend growing towards making more transactions via credit card. Tappit has elaborated that going cashless will increase gate takings by 22% on average, while transactions are made 80% faster. 
  • Enhanced fan experience – The RFID system reduces queues, increase sales and gives fans more time to enjoy the event they paid for. Understanding every fan unlocks marketing opportunities through personalised offers based on previous behaviours and incentivises them by having rewards and digital vouchers. 
  • A completed view of every fan – Fans are served better when the organisation gets to know them better. The RFID system has the data to assess a fans’ spending – where and when. 
  • Keeping fans and staff safe – RFID’s one-tap payments keep attendees and the workforce safe, similar to how Mobile Pay operates. Importantly, the risk of fraud and theft is minimised and with Tappit’s innovative functionality there are plenty more features such as Yellow Card through to Safety Wristbands.
  • Tech-light integration – Tappit’s technology complements existing infrastructure. They work closely to get the ideal design happening quickly and efficiently. The system does not require an overhaul to existing infrastructure or need a complicated set up requiring a multitude of integrations.  

Tappit extends further to what just happens at an event, they also deliver Tappit Insights as part of their solution package. For each fan, the organisation gets a complete 360-degree view.  

Tappit is able to integrate data across an ecosystem, including ticket data through purchases, parking and loyalty schemes. They can then turn this into valuable insights with instant access to a holistic view about a visitor’s spending and behaviour trends to guide organisations in the right direction for profitable planning and decision making.  

Tappit changes the game from a typical POS report to a unique platform that connects purchases directly to a fan – unprecedented data and insights are achieved. 

To learn more about Tappit, including case studies and resources, you can find it here.  

Mobile sports viewership dominated by Asia

The rapid circulation of smartphone usage in Asia, parallel to the rollout of 5G networks, has resulted in a massive upsurge of sport consumption via the use of mobile phones.

The rapid circulation of smartphone usage in Asia, parallel to the rollout of 5G networks, has resulted in a massive upsurge of sport consumption via the use of mobile phones.

In this age of continual digital advancement, it has been uncovered that 19% of fans globally use mobile applications to watch sport across the world.

The news comes from a recently published report from research and data analytics firm YouGov who discovered that consumers in Asia are increasingly utilising mobile apps in order to follow and watch sport.

Vietnamese consumption of mobile sports has proven especially popular, with nearly half (48%) of the country’s sporting legion watching their sports on mobile devices, with the only minor variation occurring among age groups.

It was found also that India has a significant share of fans (44%) who watch sport via the use of mobile apps. The report cited India’s low data rates and the large number of domestic service providers as the major contributing factors in the increase of mobile streaming use in the country.

Viewership in Thailand (33%), South Korea (28%) and the Philippines (28%) was also higher than the global average of 19% of sports fans who conduct their viewing via mobile apps.

Taiwan and Japan are the notable Asian outliers in the report, as both countries recorded some of the lowest rates globally at 7% and 6% respectively.

Comparatively, the research revealed that mobile sports consumption in the United States and in Europe is low. The United Kingdom reported figures of just 12% of consumers using mobile apps to watch sport, whilst Spain had the highest rate of usage in Europe with 18% and the United States were reported to have had just 13%.

Undoubtedly, the next generation of mobile devices will see further migration towards mobile sports consumption (particularly with high-speed, low latency 5G made available across the world) as the value-for-money will be an enticing proposition for sports fans, with access to replays, custom camera angles and virtual reality just some of the opportunities presented going forward.

The new era of sports consumption will be significant for the sporting landscape, whilst providing telecom companies a lucrative chance to recoup from a heavy investment in the next-gen network.

Oakleigh Cannons well-placed to build on its competitive foundations

The Oakleigh Cannons are a club who are a staple of the top tier of Victorian football.

The Cannons have competed in the Victorian National Premier League consecutively for the past 17 years, gaining promotion when they lifted the State League One Championship in 2003.

Since then, the senior men’s team have won one minor premiership in 2006, however have fallen to three grand final defeats in 2011, 2012 and 2016.

After eight games this season, the club currently sits in fifth place in NPL Victoria and are well placed to once again be up there at season’s end.

General Manager at Oakleigh, Aki Ionnas, believes the club can finally break their grand final hoodoo this year.

“I do believe that we can win it,” he told Soccerscene.

“Chris Taylor has put a very good squad together; all the boys are fantastic. We’re confident these boys can take us all the way.”

If it eventuates it will be a great reward for the club, based on the events of the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like any other club, it was obviously hard,” Ionnas said.

“For players, kids, juniors, the committee…it was a hard season with no football.

“Kids are used to going to training and playing soccer, your supporters, your sponsors, your members are used to going down to the club, and before you know it, you’re at home in a lockdown.

“So, it was very hard mentally for a lot of people.”

The club was established in 1972 and currently plays its home games at Jack Edwards Reserve, a facility which seems like a perfect setup for a club who plays in the top level in Victoria.

The venue has a capacity of 4,000-5,000 people with upgrades over the years continuing to lift the overall standard of the facility.

“About six years ago our facilities got upgraded with a brand-new synthetic ground as well as a junior pavilion. That was done all through hard work from our chairman Kon Kavalakis, who was responsible in liaising with council and other key parties to get these facilities.

“We’ve recently had a state-of-the art scoreboard that’s gone up last year and started using it this year.

“There’s always work going into the improvement of facilities. Even though the synthetic ground was done six years, we’ve resurfaced it again only a year and a half ago to reach top FIFA standards.”

Ionnas revealed that the club was in the progress of talking to council in regards to further developing the ground, something that the AAFC partner club sees as a priority in the future.

Oakleigh’s General Manager is relatively confident that the club is ready to take the next step and enter a national second division when it eventuates.

“Look, it all depends once we see the final model that it’s financially viable,” he said.

“If it’s financially viable, then yes.

“It all depends on what the model is going to look like and what it’s going to cost. Speaking to a lot of clubs, that’s what they are all waiting for.

“We are an ambitious club, we would always like to compete at the highest level, we’ve got very good sponsors, very good backers, a very strong board who are all business minded and great infrastructure which we will eventually develop further.”

According to Ionnas, the strong affiliation the club has with the local Greek community has positively impacted the fortunes and finances of the club over their history.

“We’ve got very strong support obviously in the Greek community,” he said.

“We’ve had strong support for a long, long time. We’ve had a major supporter in Delphi Bank who has been our sponsor for 15 years I believe. It’s a massive thing for that to happen continuously.”

Ionnas hopes the club continues to be consistently competitive in the near future, across all aspects of the sport.

“Obviously, we want the club to be a strong club irrespective where it is playing, we want to be up there both on and off the park.

“Our chairman and president Stan Papayianneris have done enormous work, each in their own way, to get the club to where it is now. Oakleigh should remain a strong club because it’s got enormous support away from the field.

“We can’t thank everyone enough for supporting the club.”

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