We've started work on our first update. The priority is making sure the app still works properly in iOS 7. Also, @CleeTownFC helped us identify an issue we'll be fixing, and there are some minor usability improvements we'd like to make.
This weekend took us to exciting new places:
While developing our iPhone app, we thought we were building something useful for football clubs all over the world. As the programming of our first version drew to a close, our app saw some initial success when we used it here in Canada. Though this was promising, until we had feedback from outside our sphere of personal contacts, all we had was a hypothesis. It was of particular interest to see if this would be embraced by clubs in the UK, the birthplace of association football.
Prior to the Non-League Day weekend, from across the Atlantic, over Twitter we reached out to clubs that were already in the habit of tweeting live match updates to see if we could get our first "real" user. When we asked about their experiences providing live updates, several clubs responded, and told us a bit about some of the difficulties they usually encounter.
@TheTallyVic (Tantallon Victoria from Glasgow) told us that our feature that allows player names to be inserted from a list could be helpful. @HeadinglyRover (Headingley Rovers FC) told us that our feature that prepends the match time to each tweet would help them compile match reports after the fact. Both of these clubs tweet from Android phones, so we weren't ready to help them just yet, but the feedback encouraged us.
Of the clubs that showed interest, one went ahead and tweeted their Non-League Day match with our app. @OssettTownAFC tweeted close to 30 live updates of their thrilling encounter with Burscough FC, which saw them come back from 2 goals down for a draw. After the match they told us that the app made things easier. And on the day of writing this, we received further validation: they used our app again, to tweet their match today.
Now we have much more confidence that we have indeed built something useful. The next step is to get it into the hands of the clubs that need it. Over the coming weeks, we'll be approaching more clubs, and helping them out, one at a time. Of course, we'd be happy to have assistance in spreading the word, so if you know a club that could use this, feel free to reach out!
While Match Minutes FC is for anyone who loves sharing football moments as they happen, it was born with the staff and supporters of smaller clubs in mind.
Football clubs need attention to survive. From an economic standpoint, attention leads to sponsorship and merchandise sales (hopefully enough cover operational costs). From an emotional standpoint, it's much easier for volunteers--who run grass roots clubs out of love for the game and the community--to persevere when they know that others care about the fruits of their efforts.
In the modern era, more and more attention is turning to televised broadcasts, and one must wonder if there will be any support left for local, grass roots clubs. Yet, many around the world still follow the big teams via live text commentary when they can't get to a television. Why can't they follow small clubs this way too? Well, for one thing, if a club is small enough, it might not have the resources and infrastructure in place to have a live feed running on its website and the means to update it from beside the pitch.
Thankfully, we now have Twitter. The above video shows how one passionate supporter got followers to tune into Torquay United matches from all over the world. Of course, if you try tweeting through a match yourself, you'll probably be doing it from your phone, and you'll quickly learn that it can be a challenge typing frequent updates on a small device while keeping your eyes on the action. That's why we built an app to make that easier. (It's available on iPhone for free, and will eventually be coming to other phones too.)
Non-League Day is coming up on Saturday Sept 7th. This is a day where supporters throughout the UK attend local, non-professional matches to support grass roots football. These smaller clubs are an important part of football culture, and they need as much attention as we can give them. If you can attend a match, please do. If you can also share that experience with a wider audience over Twitter, even better. It would be great if we could get live Twitter feeds from supporters at grounds all over the UK, and if we could get followers listening in from all over the world.
Please spread the word, and try the app if you have an iPhone!