Zone Stories: OpenSports Creates Community with Recreational Sport
The city of Toronto is home to an estimated 2.8 million people and 6,242,273 people in the census metropolitan area. Meeting like-minded individuals interested in finding a sports-centric community can be a daunting task in a city of many. James Gibbons recognized this problem and decided to find a way to connect people to sport opportunities by developing an app called OpenSports — a free mobile app that helps you find more sports to play.
OpenSports is a mobile and web platform for sports organizers and players that makes it easy to find nearby sporting events while allowing you to locate and play with local players. Through developed connections with local sports organizations made by the OpenSports team, OpenSports is able to aggregate lists of all potential games available to you around your neighbourhood. By signing up for an account on the app, users are able to build sport cards that helps them match-up with the best available opportunities. This app launched in June 2016, and a year later this app successfully does everything to help recreational players find the most relevant games and people to play them with; it is getting people active and building communities through technology.
James has created top selling mobile apps and was awarded for using technology to save the Toronto District School Board over a million dollars a year in energy costs, while in high school. At the age of 27, James continues to pursue tech development and entrepreneurship. He competes in hackathons and has won competitions in Toronto, New York, Kansas City, and Las Vegas. His most recent win took place at the Play 4 Tomorrow Hackathon in October of 2016. Play 4 Tomorrow is an organization that enables entrepreneurs to improve various social determinants of health affecting youth, such as physical literacy, education, social inclusion and mental health. It was at this hackathon that OpenSports received a hefty second-place prize of ten thousand dollars for their efforts to increase accessibility to programming for high-need communities.
OpenSports has a team of six members, all significant contributors to its development. Along with its founder, James Gibbons, this venture is fuelled by its marketing director, Alicia Luciani; accomplished coder and lead developer Yi An Yue; art director Abdul Shamad; social media specialist Kaylin Bean; and Ryerson University’s own Orest Kus. Together they have worked through a year of successes, learned experiences, and community growth. OpenSports is not only used here in Toronto but also the USA, Brazil, Spain, and the Middle East. Listing some of their proudest moments, in their words, here are a few of their first-year accomplishments:
- “Activating an incredibly diverse soccer community, with our cornerstone ‘WakeUp PickUp’ Friday morning soccer series, where we all challenged conventional norms of sports always being after 6pm.”
- “Helping players in our OpenSports community successfully host their own pickup soccer and tennis games, and hearing that at these games, ‘everyone was happy'”
- “Bringing home several notable prizes that have helped us build our organizational capacity and network of partnerships with Interac and organizations affiliated with Play for Tomorrow.”
In the near future, OpenSports plans for continued focus on pickup sports by identifying and establishing connections with key leaders in different sporting communities. They hope to build connections that allow them to list more opportunities for their app users in all the cities and countries in which it is used. Learn more about OpenSports through their blog, or download the app in your mobile app store.
Do you have your own software idea past the customer research and ideation stage? If so look into applying for a spot at Zone Learning’s iBoost zone.