The idea of the Sportifico network, which many call the Facebook for athletes, while, in reality, it's closer to a football LinkedIn, was realized in 2016. It came from a goalkeeper much earlier. Milos Eric had played in several Belgrade clubs and junior-category national teams, and then had to choose between his football career and his studies. He decided to study in order to do something great for football.
– Sportifico is everything he missed as a young football player: personal statistics and professional sports CV, a safe community where players can connect and share experiences with other players, daily advice by a licensed coach, an opportunity to earn media promotion thanks to the results achieved and the award for the effort invested – Aleksandra Stojkovic, the person in charge of the development of the company's business operations, says for eKapija.
The prestigious Entrepreneur magazine included this platform among the top six platforms which are changing the way the world communicates. It is the only sports platform on the list.
The users of Sportifico mostly share their game results, along with personal statistics, thereby automatically building their sports CV, while also connecting with like-minded people.
– The process of registering on Sportifico is such that, without a confirmation that you are really involved with football in some capacity (license, registration, a photo from the field etc.), you can't access the platform. This makes all our members trust us even more. They are sure that, when they access the Sportifico network, they are in a community where everyone shares their interest and love of football. Since our founding, many friendships and instances of sports cooperation have developed here and that's a great success for us – Aleksandra says.
Sportifico is available for Android, iOS and browsers, so that each user can access the platform easily no matter which platform they use.
The network currently has around 15,000 registered female and male football players and coaches, mostly from Serbia and the countries of the region. These are mostly promising players between 13 and 18 years of age.
– We are especially proud of the fact that around 30% of the members on the network are female football players and we pay special attention to them – Stojkovic emphasizes.
Sportifico is also used by professionals, and our interviewee highlights the legendary former football player and the current head of the Red Star Belgrade staff, Dejan Stankovic:
– We have great cooperation with him, which started with the first season of his football camp Deki5, when we realized that we have the same mission: to help young football players, him on the field and us online.
Team of the Season Contest
For three years in a row and two years in cooperation with Adidas, they are organizing the Team of the Season contest in the summer. Based on their results, the members collect “applauses” (equivalent to Facebook's “likes”), competing for their entrance into the ideal team, Adidas equipment and media promotion.
– In the first edition, there were over 100,000 applauses and the ideal team consisted of 10 male football players and one female player. In the second year, the winning team had almost 300,000 applauses and consisted of six girls and five boys, whereas, last year, we reached the number of nearly half a million applauses, and the team featured five female players and six male players – Aleksandra Stojkovic says.
Development of a New Platform
Since last year, they've been working on developing a new platform, which will be exclusively meant for female football players.
– We've realized that this is a developing market and we have been working on it from the very beginning. Although there's a great concentration of money in male football, when it comes to female players, only slightly less than 2% of them actually earn a living by playing football. That number has to change if we want female football to progress, and we have a solution. With this idea, we won the first edition of the Colosseum Sports Tech program, which the Science and Technology Park is organizing with the Israeli partners and we were consequently able to pitch our solution in front of the biggest players in the sports industry at the global sports tech summit in Tel Aviv – our interviewee explains.
She also says that Sportifico is the initiator of the founding of the Regional Female League, which will include the best clubs in this part of Europe, participants in the Champions League, and the importance of this initiative has been recognized by the umbrella organization of European football, UEFA.
– The end goal is for Sportifico to be an online equivalent to the global football scene. Of course, we are aware that that's a long and hard road, so we are moving step by step. We are working with local, as well as Israeli, American and German accelerators and sport tech experts in order to prepare the platform for the European market first. A success in the European market would act as a launching pad for the world market – Aleksandra Stojkovic says.