Balham FC are one of the most progressive clubs in London, so it’s no surprise that they use the brilliant management and communications app – Spond – to run their twenty teams across all ages.
By Steve Piggott
As the song goes, “the best things in life are free”, and that is very true. Think about it: love, happiness, fresh air … and a time-saving app for organising the matchday availability of a grassroots football club you volunteer for.
Spond is that app, and it is free and it is game changing. At Balham FC we started using Spond in earnest in 2020, and what we didn’t appreciate was quite how much time it would save for our coaches and team admins across the club.
Let’s rewind a bit. Balham is a volunteer-led club with Men’s, Women’s, Boys’, Girls’ and Vets Football making up around twenty squads from Under 7s up to adults. Many of our coaches had been using WhatsApp to organise everything from training sessions to match details. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a place for WhatsApp – it is a fantastic messaging tool and pretty much everyone is on it. However, we all experience group conversations that are relentless and getting player availability for a game is possible, but you have to trawl through the memes, dodgy photos, conversations about a local missing cat or the Wordle achievement of the group.
Spond is different – it isn’t trying to be a WhatsApp replacement, but its focus is on organising sports clubs. Whether it’s a match squad, training venue location or game cancellation due to a waterlogged pitch, it takes just a couple of clicks from the team admin and the message is out.
Jaden, our head of foundation, was bombarded with repeated messages from parents asking, where is the game again? What time are we meeting? Frank can’t play anymore, what time does training finish? All of this was almost stopped pretty much overnight when he registered the teams he looks after with Spond.
“Put simply, without Spond we could not run a club of this size with the number of volunteers we have,” Jaden explains. “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.”
What’s the catch?
Well, to be honest we haven’t found one yet. Especially if you fully adopt it as a squad. It seriously is game-changing for everyone.
What about the extras you get for top-tier membership?
There are no tiers, it is all free for everyone, and from what we see so far they have no plans to charge.
How do they make their money? Adverts, I presume?
Actually, there are no adverts. Spond offers e-payments for “club products” through the app, e.g. paying for match fees or membership and they take a small % in transaction fee for processing the payment, that’s all, which for the convenience and efficiency it brings is incredibly worthwhile.
Why am I registering for another app?
The onboarding process is really easy: just send a group link code. You can also ask club-specific questions on sign up if you want to.
Our first team play at semi-pro level (Combined Counties Football League Premier South) and coach Ebrahim Seedat has found the ability to communicate and select the squad or decide what to focus on at training by knowing who will be attending through Spond game-changing.
“Spond has significantly reduced the amount of admin with regards to training and matchdays. We can now prepare better for training sessions and sort out match availability more efficiently, which is so important when you are balancing football and family and work,” says Ebrahim.
The team at Spond HQ (Oslo) and at their new London office are amazing. Their enthusiasm for the product is infectious (probably shouldn’t say infectious in this day and age, still) – they listen to feedback and develop the platform/app to meet the users’ needs. They have a genuine passion for making the very best product to enhance the club admin’s experience. They have added in user polls, repeat event scheduling, event reminders. They are adding in fundraising, match reporting and direct debit payments soon.
Those who volunteer at grassroots level know how much effort is involved in the admin; this wasn’t what we signed up for and it certainly isn’t what we give up our time for. Spond is an app that loves all of that admin, which means we can focus on our love of the game.
Download the Spond app from Google Play or the App Store.