If you know me well, you will understand my passion for sport, technology and innovation.
Since my teenage years, I have been giving back to the community in more ways than one. Through my local soccer club, and various writing opportunities, sport has been at the core of my passion – while technology and innovation has been fostered through my higher education and now professional experiences.
Using my passion for sport
I joined the Keilor Wolves Soccer Club’s executive when I was 20 and within two years I became one of Football Victoria’s youngest Presidents. On the outside, it looked bright – I had secured multi-million-dollar facility redevelopments with local governments, expanded junior and female programs, began to digitise the club, won a series of championships and became the face of the community.
However, only those close to me understood the challenges faced by working as a volunteer for a community organisation. There was a lack of volunteers, endless nights spent planning, enormous time spent recruiting new players and coaches, trouble integrating local businesses and partners with the club and pre-existing financial debt.
The pressure was overwhelming, not just for who the young professional I had become – but for the leader, I was growing into.
Thankfully for me, those challenges were also opportunities – a new set of volunteers with the right skills were inspired to help build a successful eco-system of partners and local businesses, and the pressures of debt disappeared into thin air.
However, some of those challenges continued to persist even now that I have stepped aside including a lack of volunteers, long nights planning and the need to maintain growth.
This is a familiar story across sport and non-for-profit organisations. Volunteers, insufficient skill sets and the demand for more from the community has increased pressure to those working in the industry.
Lessons from my first hackathon
After I stepped down from the executive of my local soccer club, I decided to enter my first hackathon – the Sports Tech Cup in Melbourne.
There I worked alongside an Insights & Data Consultant, Matthew Dougherty, together with three university students who we had just met. We developed a functioning prototype using a series of data hacks and design thinking. Our solution helped an AFL coach select a midfielder out of the draft combine that best suits his team needs.
In 24 hours, we had gone from a group of strangers to a team developing the winning idea. Using a human-centred approach we began the process with building a How Might We statement to understand the problem hidden behind the challenge.
Once we understood the problem, we built a low-fidelity prototype using sharpies and paper to quickly ideate and refine an end-to-end solution. Dividing and conquering the build during a small time-frame, we used individual expertise to get our paper idea to a functioning prototype which we presented to the wider group and a series of experts.
This process taught me a few things including how a shared passion, by a multi-functional team, using human-centred design, can create innovative ideas. It also inspired me to explore the opportunities to help solve some of the issues I had encountered in the past within community sport.
Since then I have decided to join the Social Innovators, Capgemini Australia’s new practice. The practice is dedicated to providing strategic and Technology consulting services to Not-For-Profit organisations to support good causes, and to for-profit organisations with a strong social or sustainable purpose.
With the Social Innovators, I will be focusing on how to support organisations (particularly in the sports sector) that have gone through similar issues as I have encountered by using a human centred approach to develop social and sustainable innovation.
If you’d like to have a chat about what I have done or more about the social innovators – feel free to reach out and we’ll grab a coffee.
Until next time, go the mighty Wolves.