Playground: A new social network for everything sports

For the past week or so, I have been trying out a new sports app, called Playground.

A new sports social network that connects sports fans and athletes to one another, Playground is a user-based platform for people to share their common passions and discover new sports.

Said Fabrice Burtin, 42, Founder and Managing Director of Playground, “The reason why we created Playground is that we believe sports is bringing people together. There are three things that still bring people together. One is arts, the second is food and the third one is sports.”

Playground is a free app for download on the Apple App Store. An Android version is coming at the end of the month.

Playground is a free app for download on the Apple App Store. An Android version is coming at the end of the month.

He continued, “In today’s world which is more and more divided by religion and war, sport brings people together and carries great positive values. This is why we have created it as a way to bring people together either locally or globally.”

I recently met Fabrice and his Public Relations team for a chat. He explained about Playground and took me on a demonstration of what the app does.

Backed by a vibrant start-up community 

Founded in Singapore recently, Playground is backed by a vibrant start-up community backed by a bourgeoning ecosystem that encourages entrepreneurship in recent years. Today Singapore is seen as a leading destination in the world, for budding technology entrepreneurs.

Said Fabrice, “I used to think that sports was more popular in the Western world than countries like Singapore, but there is actually a lot happening in Singapore despite the country’s small size. It is a great place to create a proof of concept and when we start we need to show that it works on a micro level. Singapore is ideal for that.”

On Playground, you can see Tribes that you have joined as well as Tribes that the app recommends.

On Playground, you can see Tribes that you have joined as well as Tribes that the app recommends.

He added, “In Singapore, you know the scene and the country is small enough to be familiar with everything, but in Europe or North America these places are big and you may not know where to start.”

Playground users can create or join Tribes

The Playground users can create or join Tribes, which are user generated groups based on common sporting interests. With over 195 sports listed, sports fans on Playground can tailor a personal Playground experience for themselves based on the sport or recreational games of their choice, and connect and share content with their fellow Playground users.

Besides fans, Playground is also tailored for athletes, events, media and brands to connect and engage with their fans, in today’s world where social media and mobile technologies are rapidly transforming the sporting landscape.

Said Fabrice, “The main benefits of our app is for users to meet like-minded sports fans. For example, Manchester United football fans living in Singapore can meet those who have similar interests living in the same city.”

You can search for your favourite sport on Playground and the app will recommend Tribes that deem fit.

You can search for your favourite sport on Playground and the app will recommend Tribes that deem fit.

He added, “At the same time, Playground can also be used to discover new sports, new opinions on things fans like and to search for it and join Tribes related to that sport to meet people and join events.”

For example, even Fabrice himself – an avid football fan who also enjoys watching and playing golf, tennis and volleyball – but knew nothing about aquathlon previously, has since discovered more about this sport through Playground.

Said Fabrice, “I have always like sports as a way to exercise, but what I like most about it are the values that it carries, for instance, lessons of achievement, respect, learning and pushing oneself to the limits.”

During the talk with me, Fabrice – who does not really consider himself to be a runner – also had, on the spur of the moment, dared himself to take on the challenge of completing the full 42.195KM distance in six months time – at the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore. This had been in line with his constantly striving to find out more about new sports and opening more sports related connections, through usage of his app.

I support Arsenal FC... with Playground, I can now meet Arsenal fans living in France...

I support Arsenal FC… with Playground, I can now meet Arsenal fans living in France…

So I will eagerly be awaiting more news about Fabrice’s registration and subsequent regular training updates for the Standard Chartered Marathon, through the Playground application.

App is in the early stages

While Fabrice’s Playground app is still in its early stages, he adds that it has already seen an uptake by early adopters such as sports fans clubs, journalists, sporting events and venues, and national sport associations. From these users, Playground has been able to understand how its initial users have been interacting with the platform and unlocking multiple possible usages offered.

So far, Fabrice says that there are about 500 Playground users and while the figure is small at this stage, he adds that it is growing rapidly.

This, according to Fabrice, is because many people see sports as a way of life. He said, “What you learn in sports can be used anywhere. For example, take football versus the workplace. The finance department is your defence – if your defence is strong you will not concede goals and if you have a good financial department your company is secure and protected.”

He added, “The marketing department is your midfield – they are the ones who direct the game. And the strikers are the sales people – they are the ones who are in the front-line. The CEO is the chairman and not the coach, as they are the overall in charge of the football club or the workplace. So if you can understand the sports analogy, then you can understand much more about life. Sports is indeed a metaphor of life.”

You can also scroll through your News Feeds on Playground, much like Facebook and Instagram.

You can also scroll through your News Feeds on Playground, much like Facebook and Instagram.

Tried using Playground

I have tried using Playground and setting up a Tribe. It is simple to create an account – by following the instructions and following what there is to say.

Posting onto a Tribe page and sharing update with fans on Playground, is also simple. The easy-to-read layout of Playground somewhat reminds me, to a small extent, of the Facebook mobile app.

But the main difference though, is that with Playground’s sports focus, users are not bombarded with everything and anything under the sun.

However though, I still think that attracting fans to join the Tribe Page may not be the easiest thing, as probably the case with most of the Facebook pages. However, with the simple search button on Playground, this may make it easy for strangers to search for your Page through the social networking application, if your Page has the keyword that they are looking for.

I created my account on Playground.

Yes, I created my account on Playground.

That said though, I do have a pointer for improvement for Playground – perhaps there could be an algorithm like Facebook has, to possibly allow users to change a website image when they are posting it on Playground.

Other users of Playground have positive experiences with the app. Said Ellie Klidzia, High Participation Manager of Singapore Gymnastics, “Playground has given us an avenue to create direct social connections and a channel for fans, participants, athletes and spectators of the Singapore Open 2016. The simple user interface allows us to interact more profoundly with our audience and share event updates and competition results in real time with our followers.”

My tribe page on Playground can be found at PrisChew Dot Com.

Playground is a free download from the Apple App Store.

The Android version of Playground will be coming out by the end of this month.

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