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Grassroots Spotlight Series - Communication Technology

By Staff, 04/20/20, 2:00PM EDT


This installment of the Grassroots Spotlight Series focuses on the deployment of various communication technologies. What platforms exist for Clubs and Academies?

Play. Inspire. Unite. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Ontario Soccer member Clubs and Academies have risen to the challenge and effectively engaged their stakeholders.  From toilet paper challenges and fitness classes to ball mastery sessions and online team meetings and social parties, the activities have been varied ranging from the informative to the entertaining.

As a result, players are kept engaged via structured activities, coaches continue to lead the development of those under their care, while learning new things in the process and parents, who are continuously informed and included every step of the way.

These activities are model examples not only for Ontario Soccer members, but also for all sport organisations throughout Canada, showcasing how Clubs and Academies have taken a leadership role in continuing their activities amid the current challenges.

Following last week’s focus on financial management approaches, this installment of the Grassroots Spotlight Series focuses on the deployment of various communication technologies.  What platforms exist for Clubs and Academies?  How are these platforms being deployed?  These and other questions will be answered highlighting the work of the Burlington Youth Soccer Club.


A staple for many members, Zoom has been the go-to platform for holding video gatherings of players, coaches, administrators and parents, while maintaining physical distancing.

Clubs and Academies have leveraged it extensively to educate coaches, hold fitness sessions and conduct technical training for players.

Zoom is Burlington’s most-used platform as the Club has leveraged it to keep players engaged through regular chats and ball mastery sessions.  During the latter, coaches and technical staff have been able to evaluate performance and monitor players’ progress.

Zoom is easy to use and free, but without purchasing a license, sessions only run for 45 minutes and have a cap of 100 people.

As a security precaution, there have been extensive reports of “Zoombombing”, whereby users outside of the intended group have gained access to meetings and disrupted them by sharing inappropriate content and graphics.

Zoom has attempted to respond to these challenges by updating and enhancing its security features and all users are encouraged to review how to conduct a safe Zoom meeting by reading up on current information.


The popular social media platform provides a number of tools that can assist Clubs and Academies.  Its visual nature, from images to live video, provides opportunities to share homework training exercises and conduct live training sessions.

For example, Burlington has used Instagram Live, the platform’s video feature, to conduct ball mastery skill sessions that can be viewed from a mobile phone or tablet. The Club has also had success with its two Instagram pages – a more social page titled Bayhawks Can Play and the Club’s own domain.  Both receive a strong level of engagement by creating a sense of community through the combination of appropriate and safe soccer and non-soccer activities.

A challenge at the outset was younger kids among their membership not using the platform, however, the Club’s efforts have helped kids become familiar with it and parents becoming more trusting of its security.

Microsoft Teams

Similar to Zoom, Teams enables people to conduct online meetings.  It differs, though, in its advantage of having integration with the Microsoft program ecosystem - Outlook, Word, etc.  Burlington’s coaches have relied on Teams for imparting coaching tactics, where they can share the screen with players to provide more detailed instructions.

SportsEngine, Respect in Sport and Academy Soccer Coach

From within the Ontario Soccer family of partners, SportsEngine has created a dedicated “Stay fit at home” resource page, Respect in Sport is providing a variety of its powerful online education tools for youth activity leaders and parents, and Academy Soccer Coach is providing cutting-edge offerings like Ontario Soccer’s Goalkeeping Certificate.

Team Snap

An all-encompassing team management system, typically used for schedule management and instant team communication, the platform is quite versatile and provides many opportunities for Clubs and Academies to engage with players and parents.  Burlington has leveraged it to organize home workouts, develop a calendar of activities, share training programs and hold video uploaded by players.


InStat is a sport performance analysis platform, providing professional tools for individual and team performance evaluation, scouting, fitness analysis and filming. Burlington’s coaches typically use it for session planning, but have deployed it in a creative way to test players’ technical knowledge. Coaches download video of professional matches from the many choices available in system and use the footage to develop quizzes that test players’ understanding of on-field tactics.

There are many valuable online tools available, many of which offer basic access free of charge. It is important for users to always be familiar with platform security provisions.

What else should you know?

Like Burlington, many Clubs and Academies have discovered the value of deploying various communication technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic.  These platforms have made it possible to continue program delivery during a challenging time, while simultaneously raising awareness of their potential as complementary activities.  Many Clubs will further incorporate these and other technologies into their future programming and services, with some wondering why they did not leverage them earlier.

While the COVID-19 pandemic, has created many challenges for the Ontario Soccer community, this is one positive by-product that will, hopefully, continue benefit player development and the sport overall, in the years ahead.

Additionally, of note, Ontario Soccer recently provided an update on insurance for Districts, Clubs and Academies delivering Virtual Strength and Conditioning and Physical Technical Training.

Any organization providing this type of service to their members should consult it before launching any online programming.