Soccer tournament scheduling human skill

Soccer tournament scheduling is a human skill

The most-asked question we get about our software is “where is your one-button scheduling?”

I’m aware this expectation is out there and that others may be marketing it in their sales pitch, but we’re never going to lie to you. Scheduling a soccer tournament is a human skill that is only aided by software. While we have grids, automated pairings, conflict alerts — all the standard stuff you would expect from a soccer tournament scheduling program — we here at TourneyCentral don’t assume to know more about your event that you do.

You know your fields. You know the people who tend them, water them and make sure they are in peak condition for your tournament. You know what is important to them. You know the teams you have invited to and accepted into your tournament. You understand the hundreds — maybe thousands — of nuanced variables of each of these coaches and DOCs. You know who your volunteers are and what is important to them to get them and keep them volunteering. You know your vendors. You know your sponsors’ needs.

It may look smart, but a computer is pretty dumb about all this. A computer program just fakes knowing all this. A computer program needs to be told all of this stuff that you intuitively “know.” Sure, a program can help make things easier, but a one-button schedule-maker won’t care. It will just spit out the pairings, locations and times.

Fast, but not good.

In short, you know, understand and respect the thousands of human needs, feelings and relationships that make a soccer tournament possible. Never assume a successful soccer tournament is the result of a “superior, efficient” schedule. It’s not. Success will ultimately be judged by the vibe the coaches, players, fans and sponsors feel at your event.

If this is your first time scheduling a soccer tournament, we’ll help you if you need us to. We can do the mechanics of who, when and where, but the why is all you. Learn the why. Learning what is important to the people playing and tending to your games is the most effective way to build your scheduling skills. It’s much, much more than just an app.

You should never want to cede that power and responsibility entirely to a computer program. Your software should help with the scheduling, not take over the human bits that make your soccer tournament different, human and pleasant to attend.

soccer tournament fashion brand

Your soccer tournament is a fashion brand

Your guest teams come to play soccer because that is why they attend your soccer tournament. Higher quality teams who play good soccer with lots of points is what attracts soccer teams to your soccer tournament.

Soccer. Soccer. Soccer.

What if all of that is not true?

What? That is the way it’s always been. We play soccer. Our soccer people play soccer. Our DOCs play, live and sleep soccer. We are a soccer tournament, so we must focus on the soccer.

I’ve seen soccer purists rip good soccer tournaments apart, mostly because they believe a soccer tournament is all about soccer, that the other stuff is just fluff.

They are wrong.

  • Soccer tournaments are a mini-family vacation.
  • Soccer tournaments are a diversion from the everyday.
  • Soccer tournaments are social gatherings.
  • Soccer tournaments are fun, festival-style entertainment.
  • Soccer tournaments are fashion brands.

But what soccer tournaments are not is a soccer event.

It surprises a lot of people when I tell them I’m not all that passionate about soccer or technology. What?? TourneyCentral is a soccer technology company? How could you not live and breathe the nuance of pairings and soccer stats, how this team should be seeded higher because they play in this league or they are state cup champions or….. How could you not live and breathe the tech and app development and Apple vs Android and specs and ….

Don’t get me wrong, I care about soccer and tech; I understand soccer through and through. I also understand technology because we use both to bring about the best soccer tournament production software anywhere. But if TourneyCentral was a soccer technology company, we would be doing a disservice to the people who need us the most; those who need a diversion from the everyday.

Our advice: Start looking at your soccer tournament as a fashion brand. Why do your guest teams want to be a part of who you are? Why do they “wear” your event? Consider they can get soccer anywhere — all day, every day — so what about your event makes it special?

Your soccer tournament should be a New York Fashion Week, not just another trip to Walmart for a pack of white undershirts. Figure this out and start producing an event that breaks out of the mould. Both on the field and in the digital space.

TourneyCentral is a media and event management company. Your soccer tournament is a fashion brand.

Soccer Tournament Media Officer; it’s time

It’s time for soccer tournaments to get serious about a Soccer Tournament Media Officer to manage media, from newspaper and TV to social media channels.

This photo was posted by the Solar Impulse team. Sure, the photo itself is pretty impressive but once you get beyond that, there is a spectacular epiphany that was easy to overlook at first:

The Solar Impulse has a selfie window built into its design.

Marketing the Solar Impulse using social media was not a thought bolted-on after the fact. Marketing using social media wasn’t going to be one of those things an intern or a community manager would handle. From the very beginning, marketing on social media was planned.

It’s time for soccer tournaments to design their own selfie window into their events. It’s time for a Soccer Tournament Media Officer to plan, coordinate and execute the event using all media channels, including social. Start here.

Our advice:

  • Get serious about social media, especially the top four; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. While it is still important as an anchor to reach your teams during the event, your website as a destination is becoming less and less so. Your sponsors and advertisers want to reach your participants. If they are all off on social media channels, a “link from the website” will continue to have less and less value.
  • Start developing a Snapchat presence through hosted “stories” from the touchline, the HQ tent, the t-shirt tent. Invite the teams behind the scenes.
  • Do not dismiss social media (especially Snapchat) as something the kids do. Look around during your soccer tournament; there are thousands of kids! That is your audience, whether or not they “buy” directly from you. The kids are the influencers for their parents and coaches.

Build a “selfie-window” into your soccer tournament event by design. Start now and make sure it is up and running for your next “flight.” Also, follow the Solar Impulse on Instagram. The photos are amazing!

Managing soccer tournament DEALS with URL shorteners

Managing soccer tournament DEALS with URL shorteners is a quick, easy way to build value for your advertisers and sponsors. While your TourneyCentral Advertiser Module and Google Analytics will give you aggregate traffic, you may want to track individual ads or links more closely. This is where URL shorteners really shine.

Let’s take a look at how to do it using the popular shortening service, bitly.com.

  1. Sign up for an account at bitly.com. I like using the @tourneycentral twitter account because I hate setting up one more user name/password account. Obviously, to log in with twitter, you need to have a twitter account. Use your soccer tournament account, not your personal handle so that your link history is part of the tournament record.
  2. Edit your profile, including an email address. Verify the address.Open your TourneyCentral Admin and navigate to the Advertising Module. Click to the first DEALS listing and copy the web address.
  3. Create your first shortened link by clicking on the orange button at the top.
    Managing soccer tournament DEALS with URL shorteners
  4. Paste the actual advertiser link in the Long URL box and Create. Copy the shortener URL into the Advertiser record in your TourneyCentral Admin and update.
    Managing soccer tournament DEALS with URL shorteners
  5. Over at bitly.com, eit your shortened link to include a DEALS tag and title to make building reports easier.
    Managing soccer tournament DEALS with URL shorteners
  6. Repeat for as many links as you want to track

Now, when advertisers or sponsors want to know how their DEALS placement did or when you need to go back for a renewal ad for next year, you’ll have data.

URL shorteners are also useful when advertisers or housing services give you URLs that are long, unwieldy or complicated with non-alphanumerics. When you run them through a URL shortener, it cleans them up smartly.

Managing soccer tournament DEALS with URL shorteners; it’s a tool that every Advertising Director should have in their tournament toolbox.

Memorial Day Weekend soccer

Every weekend a soccer tournament (or several) is scheduled is special, but Memorial Day weekend soccer is nearest to our heart at TourneyCentral. While we started writing the software for this whole tournament revolution in the Spring of 1999, our first live run was the adidas Warrior Soccer Classic in 2000. It was scary, it was chaotic and it was a blast!

We have learned a lot of stuff along the way about soccer tournaments after that first Memorial Day weekend soccer tournament and lots of technology has changed since, but the dedication, drive and passion of the people behind the soccer events that appear so effortlessly to pull together has not. We are grateful to each and every tournament director and the vast volunteer staff who has included us in their event.

A special thank you to Carol Maas of the adidas Warrior Soccer Classic in Dayton, Ohio for seeing the potential in moving from paper onto the very unfamiliar web. Her trust in our ability to pull that off is beyond words.

Here’s wishing everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend. Good luck to all the teams competing in the three soccer tournaments we are hosting in 2016; the adidas Warrior Soccer Classic, the Pacesetter Soccer Invitational and the Westlake Invitational.

Please support them and their sponsors for a successful tournament.