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Grassroots football is the beating heart of the beautiful game, encouraging participation at all levels and developing budding talent. As the professional leagues embrace ultra-sophisticated technology, the grassroots game is undergoing its own digital revolution.

Amateur, youth and junior teams, both male and female, are harnessing accessible digital tools from The Football Association (The FA) to support playing and coaching, from organising fixtures to improving skills and tactics.

As the FA’s Digital Transformation Partner, Cognizant develops the products which drive these technological advances. Notable examples are the FA’s Matchday app for streamlined operations and progress tracking and the England Football Learning Hub, which upskills coaches through tailored online courses.

The Matchday platform has attracted 677,000 users, 36.2 million sessions and 388 million screen views to date this season. That’s up from 494,000 users, 24.5 million sessions and 214 million screen views in the same period last season.

All grassroots age groups are profiting from this digital transformation, but in the build-up to the women’s and men’s FA Cup it’s particularly inspiring to see the impact on our youngest players: the Wembley stars of the future.

Unleashing young talent through technology

Nurturing talent is essential to the FA’s long-term strategy and the digital revolution is benefitting teams at all levels. Today’s players thrive and progress when they – and their coaches – can use personal performance data to improve their game. The Matchday app empowers them to track their own stats throughout the season: games played, goals scored and assists made.

This generation of players are digital natives and they want smart technology offering the opportunities for interaction that they’re used to. That includes social media and online collaboration; Matchday’s social media functions enable them to chat to their teammates and share their stats.

Teeside Junior League wins with Matchday

The 1,000 team-strong Teeside Junior Football Alliance runs up to 400 games a week through Matchday. Coaches love it because the platform takes the organisational strain, enabling them to input and share details of fixtures, training and more at the touch of a button. Boys and girls enjoy scrolling to see who they’re playing and their league table position. Parents can easily keep track of upcoming matches and call up directions to their opponents’ grounds.

Steven Bassham, Manager of the Billingham Town’s Under-14s team, says Matchday has been transformational for his young side. “It needs to be used across the board, in my opinion,” he says.

Empowering the coaches

Behind every talented young player stands an inspirational coach and the England Football Learning website is a hub of vital information and courses on everything from tactics to health and wellbeing, first aid and safeguarding.

Cognizant is helping to upgrade this platform with rich new content, some of it specifically designed to help coaches run engaging, effective training sessions with boys and girls . This includes a series of videos for teaching and refining core skills.

Analytics, grassroots-style

Personalisation is increasingly important and the next generation of digital tools will offer specific features to different groups. For example, some young players might want access to a bank of peer performance stats, whilst others might prefer enhanced chat features.

As Official Partner of The Emirates FA Cup and The Adobe Women’s FA Cup, Cognizant is excited that digital transformation in the grassroots game is shaping tomorrow’s Cup and Premier League superstars.



David Ingham

Head of Media,
Entertainment & Sports, UK&I, Cognizant

David Ingham

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