How Balham FC Scaled Up from 1 Team to 25 with A Little Help from Spond
One of the UK’s largest amateur football clubs, Balham FC, weathered the pandemic and is now aiming for a bigger and brighter future, with a little help from the Spond grassroots sports team management app.
Balham FC is a big hitter in the world of amateur football. The club was established in 2001 as a single U10s team by chairman Greg Cruttwell, and now has over 20 boys and girls squads from U7 through to adults. With close to 750 members, including 388 active players, the men’s first team, some of whom have been at the club since they were 10 years old, play at semi-pro level in the Combined Counties League Premier Division South. This is all the more impressive given that the team was only formed in 2011, gaining five promotions in six seasons. All of this success is down to the hard work of dedicated volunteers, plus the ongoing support of the Spond app.
The Foundation Phase Lead, and unofficial Spond ambassador, at Balham FC is Jaden Cameron, a qualified football coach with a young family who lives and breathes the game. Jaden has been part of the club since 2012, and has daily communication with all of the teams, but as the membership grew he found it impossible to keep track of all the messages he was receiving, and realised there had to be another way.
He said: “It got to the point where I was receiving hundreds of messages a month across multiple platforms, such as Facebook, WhatsApp, SMS and email. I don’t mind giving my time to the club, in fact I’m hugely proud of my status as a volunteer, but I want that time to be spent productively, whereas I was becoming a busy fool.
“We tried a number of different sports team apps, some of which were already being used by individual coaches within the club, but none of them felt like a solution we could roll out across all the squads. Ironically, I had been using Spond as a basic messaging tool for almost a year before I realised that the answer to all our problems was actually already on my phone. We were literally only using about 10% of what the app can actually do.”
As more team coaches made the move to Spond and realised the benefits it could offer, others heard their rave reviews and followed suit, with all Balham FC squads now using the team management app. This makes life much easier for volunteers like Jaden, who can now coordinate messaging, fixture management, payments and other activities across single teams, certain groups (ie. Juniors / Adults) or the entire club.
Jaden added: “Put simply, without Spond we could not run a club of this size with the number of volunteers we have. It’s not just a question of the time it saves us, which must be several hours per week for each administrative role, it’s also the built-in features that do many basic tasks for you. For example, with GDPR and safeguarding tools built in, our coaches can use the app safe in the knowledge that they are meeting the basic legal requirements needed when interacting with members, especially the junior squads and their parents or guardians. Our safeguarding officer is literally in love with this app.”
During the Covid pandemic, Spond was made compulsory for all members of the club, which allowed coaches and volunteers to keep in touch with their players and maintain team morale, even during periods of total lockdown. Now that training and fixtures are back on, the insistence on use of the Spond app makes life easier for coaches, who can set up a game or session on the app and send it out, secure in the knowledge that every player will receive a notification on their phone.
“The attendance register offers some fringe benefits that are key for me in my job,” said Jaden. “There is always politics in any sports team environment, which we need to manage, and Spond helps me deal with that.
“Let’s say the parents of Child X comment to their coach that Child Z is getting picked for more games, and they don’t think it’s fair. Of course, I will speak to the coach, but I can also go on Spond and see that Child Z has attended every training session, whereas Child X has missed three this season, which is why the coach feels that Child Z is more deserving of their place. I can then give feedback to the parents of Child X and work with them and the coach to help that child get back on form, and hopefully in the team.”
With training now back on track and fixtures resuming, Balham FC is once again turning its attention to future success, junior player progression, a pathway to an advancing first team, and further growth. Whatever the future holds, we can guarantee that Spond will continue to play a key part in the club’s growth and success.