The internet has impacted pretty much every aspect of life on this planet. Current levels of global internet penetration are at 59.5%, with that number jumping to a whopping 96% in Northern Europe. In China alone, there are an estimated 854 million internet users which is over half of the country’s total population. As time moves on, numbers of internet users will continue to grow worldwide, especially with the introduction of better mobile internet connectivity and the increased accessibility of mobile devices.
So, what has this got to do with amateur football? Well, the internet has managed to completely change the face of the sport at both a professional and amateur level, sometimes for the worse but most often for the better. A more connected world means better sporting opportunities for the average person and more favourable circumstances for amateur clubs in general. Here are some examples of how the sport has improved with the introduction of the world wide web.
The dawn of the internet age has seen a universal shake-up in the gaming world, with many established favourites finding a new lease of life online. Mind sports such as chess or blackjack is now available through platforms like PokerStarsCasino and Chess.com, whereas physical sports ranging from F1 racing to basketball to football have amazingly accomplished virtual versions available for anyone to play. Therefore, one of the biggest changes connected to football’s move onto the web has taken place off the pitch. Well, the physical pitch at least. Football-based games have gone from strength to strength since the internet became an easily accessible service, spreading out from PCs and consoles to include mobile devices too. This gives fans and players alike the chance to test their skills in management and on the pitch, all from the comfort of their own living room. High profile names like Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland are no longer content with just showing off their prowess on the field, so they have also become top competitors in EA Sports’ FIFA franchise. This shows that playing football is a big game online as well as off, attracting both pros and fans of The Beautiful Game.
The ability to create interactive networks of people, groups and data online has led to a complete overhaul of fantasy football leagues up and down the country, and indeed all over the world. Whereas once upon a time fantasy leagues were conducted through newspapers, primitive spreadsheets or even just with pen and paper at a tightly localised level, they are now big business on the net and can be conducted nationally. Websites, apps and software have made the pastime much easier to access for everyone and business is booming. Big names like the English Premier League and national newspapers have comprehensive sites where fans can chat, scout, listen to podcasts and stay up to date with the latest stats with minimal effort on their part. This has led to a dramatic uptick in interested players, who now number in their millions so anybody who joins is guaranteed to have plenty of people to collaborate with or play against. This is the ultimate fan’s pastime and one which rewards those enthusiasts who stay up to date with all the latest news, transfers and match day results. The wealth of specialized knowledge now attainable at just the click of a button or tap of a screen means that the whole enterprise can go that extra mile in playability.
Now, we’ve already gone into detail about why amateur clubs should invest in their social media presence, but it’s worth reiterating just why this new form of communication and promotion is so important to the sport. Pro footballers are the most followed celebrities on platforms like Instagram, so it follows that most football fans are likely keyed up on all the latest social media developments. This provides amateur clubs and players with a ready audience to engage with, whether that’s to promote fundraising initiatives, upcoming tournaments or put a call out for new players. It’s also the perfect way to find likeminded people in the local area, introducing the opportunity to revitalise that area’s presence in the world of amateur football through forging new online networks. Using platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok means that a club is extending its reach beyond the people who already know of its existence and achievements; this can lead to increased player numbers, fanbase support and other opportunities. Social media is not going anywhere so it makes sense to get on board with it now and take advantage of the many extra little perks it offers to amateur clubs trying to get off the ground.