The definitive amateur football app comparison guide
The definitive app comparison guide
The story and experience are fairly similar for most of us amateur football players. We start by playing every week with a few friends in the park. Our team gets pretty decent. We all decide we should enter a league, which increases the frequency and seriousness of the games. We nominate a captain, who now has to manage and find players, collecting money and sometimes booking pitches. What started as a fun outing on a Saturday morning now somehow turns into an administrative task. For all of us.
Everyone in the team starts owing each other or the captain match fees. We struggle to maintain consistent attendance, have last-minute drop-outs and often ask some random stranger in the park if they fancy joining our 5-a-side. The leagues and facilities have the same challenge, often requiring large upfront fees to ensure they don’t lose out on last-minute cancellations. On top of that, most of us will have the experience of arriving in a new city without many contacts or friends. This means we have to figure out how to get involved in a 5, 7 or 8-a-side that suits our work, availability and commuting needs.
Luckily, many startups have been founded to solve some of these problems. From finding a team or a player to booking pitches and games and organising payments. Therefore, in light of recent announcements that grassroots sports might be back soon, I wanted to put together the amateur football app comparison guide.
I’ve come up with the following set of criteria through which to judge these apps. This list is by no means exhaustive, however as a UX Designer I wanted to focus on the core needed functionality:
Game discoverability – as a player, how easy can you find a game that suits your needs
Team and match management – selecting a location, inviting players, knowing who’s playing, who’s dropped out and how many slots still need filling
Finding players – how easily can captains or organisers find players outside of their phonebook
Match discoverability for individual players
- Footyaddicts is a social platform to find local games. Footyaddicts books pitches and posts the games on their platform. Individual players sign up to the platform and can then find games to suit their needs. It has advanced filtering options focusing on date, time, location, distance from location, players a-side, indoors vs outdoors as well as gender. It offers payments functionality through online or in cash. It also lists teams so that new players can request to join rather than just pay for individual matches.
- FCUrban is similar to a gym membership. You pay a monthly subscription fee (£6.99 in this case) and can access an unlimited number of games on the platform. FCUrban handles the pitch booking and payments, which means all you need to do is show up and play. It does not offer the same advanced match filtering as Footyaddicts, yet offers a great range of pitches and available locations.
- Outside of the UK (and with big footprints in Europe) there are also Timpik, Fubles and CeleBreak. All with similar platforms in place. Players can download the app or login via their browser and find a game in their local area.
The platform does have the disadvantage of being a web-app, however offers individual players the best filtering options. Payments are handled on the platform (unlike FC Urban that uses Eventbrite) which makes booking a match far simpler and easier as a player. So that’s the match discoverability side of things of amateur football app comparison guide, on to match management next.
Match management for organisers and captains
- Fulby Track who’s paid and who hasn’t. Simple creates a match. Streamlined UI. Unique links. Focused on existing groups. Does Not handle payments
- Teamer is a web platform for amateur sports that also includes football. It offers advanced team management functionality from an organisers’ perspective. You can create and manage a team while also using their payment management functionality to reconcile and manage player match fee transfers. Given that it’s a web app, it does not offer live match updates through notifications. However, organisers do get a text message functionality (50/month) within the Pro subscription (£5.95).
- Spond is a mobile-first team management app. It’s been built to handle events, groups and even a club. It has advanced functionality and features to create an event, invite team members, manage calendars and take payments. Given that it’s mobile-first it comes with all the bells and whistles one would expect. Location and maps, synchronized calendars, the ability for guardians to reply on behalf of children etc. It also allows organisers to invite players from their calendar or other subgroups in the app in case of missing players. The app is free yet charges a small transaction fee when you take payments from players,
- Find A Player is a mobile application focused on discoverability from a player and organisers perspective. The app works similar to a message board (think Gumtree) where players can specify their availability, and teams can advertise for players. For organisers, it allows you to easily create a public or private game and then invite local players (public) or your address book (private) to it. The app seamlessly handles payments by allowing you to add your bank details. For players it allows you to easily find games within a specific area.
In putting together our amateur football app comparison guide, there definitely seems to be a plethora of apps out there that make it easy for all of us to find and organise games. From web to mobile apps. The discoverability of football matches for individual players is definitely an area that is incredibly well covered. Which means if you are new to a city I would implore you to access all of the platforms above to find out which one works best for you.
Yet, having spent time downloading and creating profiles on all of the match management apps, I can’t help but feel that they are all incredibly complex. Interacting with these apps feels like using a hammer to crack a nut. They offer all the features one would need to manage all sorts of team sports, yet don’t seem to focus on the simple requirements that a football group or captain would need. Creating a game, adding players and keeping them updated should not be a complex and time-consuming process. Having spoken to hundreds of amateur football captains, they all seem to prefer their excel spreadsheets and Whatsapp groups over the complexity and advanced features of some of these apps.
It feels a need to add tech to this problem, most of the products that have been built have forgotten the needs of the user. To quickly, seamlessly and effortlessly create a match, invite players, keep them updated and manage who’s playing. Perhaps it’s time for something that ticks these boxes.