Orginally from CraigRivett.com
Inqaku is an initiative launched in partnership with South African Football Associate (SAFA).
It replaces physical player cards with digital cards; saving money and creating a new way to combat age cheating and fraud. It is being piloted at schools in 2016 with the hope of expanding to all of SAFA’s stakeholders – players, coaches, referees, officials – in 2017
For the first time in South Africa coaches can upload player photos and documents to a centralized system. Their identities are then verified by SAFA’s Local Football Associations (LFA’s). Once verified, coaches are able to print team sheets with player names, photos, school information and a QR code which, when scanned using the free Inqaku smartphone app, opens a digital player card.
Inqaku works on computers and smartphones for more affluent schools, and accommodates paper registration systems at LFA’s to cater for schools with limited resources.
How can Inqaku help South African football?
Globally, Football or “soccer” is massive. It is the world’s largest, and arguably greatest, sport.
In South Africa, it is no different – Football is played on fields, parks and streets around our country every day. It is our most popular sport by far. It is also a catalyst for unity, social cohesion and national collectiveness.
Here are 4 ways that Inqaku can assist South African football to win a World Cup
- Understanding Who Plays Where
By creating a central database of players and coaches, Inqaku makes it possible for football administrators to understand where football is popular and where it isn’t. This information can be used to target football resources and support where they will have the greatest impact.
It also makes several forms of identity cheating much more difficult. With a central database of players and an archive of schools and clubs that they have played for, players will no longer be able to play for multiple schools or clubs.
- Communication and Reach
Inqaku creates a new communications channel between the governing body, regional and local administrators, coaches, players and parents.
This ensures that the SAFA message reaches the membership without being distorted or lost along the way. If SAFA want to inform every member of a new top tier sponsor, they can do it in an instant. If that same sponsor wants to communicate with the membership, estimated at over 2,5 million people, they can as well.
- Reallocation of Funds
Printing millions of player cards is expensive. Very expensive. Sometimes these costs are covered by the players and sometimes they are absorbed by SAFA.
They can also be lost, stolen or forged. Stories of matches being postponed because the coach lost the cards will be a thing of the past. Millions of rand previously spent on card printers, printer maintenance and card stock can now be put to use buying balls, building pitches, paying referees.
- It Lays the Foundations for Future Enhancements
Collecting player profiles and information lays the ground work for future development. It is a starting point.
Once we have details of who plays football it will be possible to introduce smart national competition, league, referee management and player statistics systems. These systems, build on-top of Inqaku, will ensure that more games are played and that talent is noticed earlier than ever before.
Data collection can empower coaches and scouts to reach an exponentially larger soccer playing community in every corner of of South Africa. And while benefits will be realized at the grass roots level from day 1, these players will only start filtering in the national team talent pipeline in 5-10 years.
This may all seem like a pipedream but we have already seen the potential of programs like this on the international level. Germany’s humiliation in the European Championships in 2000 spurred a re-assessment of how that country identifies and develops talent, and technology was and still is at the core of it. These same lessons are being applied all over the world by other countries and sports federations with the performance gap between the connected and unconnected growing daily.