How DISRUPTIVE Innovation can help revive Grassroots Football participation in your community

This blog post is for anyone who has an idea to develop an innovative Grassroots Football Programme which will DISRUPT the market !!


We will be examining the following themes :

  • Disruptive and Sustained Innovation in Grassroots Football Development

  • How Disruptive Innovation is much more likely to attract new players to Grassroots Football.

  • How Disruptive Innovation originates in low - end or new- market footholds like informal & commercial 5-a-side football.This creates a market where none previously existed.

  • How established Football Associations and Clubs have created new divisions to focus solely on the growth opportunities from disruption

  • The growth of disruptive innovative projects in other sports

  • We provide some guidance to the question : "What is your project and which market can you disrupt ?"




The late Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen in this paper from the Harvard Business School highlighted two types of Innovation : Disruptive and Sustained Innovation


Sustaining innovation seeks to improve existing services and products. Meaning, it does not create new markets or values, but merely develops existing ones.Examples in Grassroots Football would include developing new competitions or clubs forming new teams without changing the overall business model, the game format ,the frequency or method of delivery

Disruptive innovation on the other hand seeks to reinvent a business model by generating new markets, new revenue and new jobs as it disrupts existing markets. Think ‘ Uber ‘ , ‘Amazon’ or ‘Airbnb’.


Historically without Disruptive Innovation we would not have seen many developments such as Girls & Women's Football, Holiday Courses,Walking Football, Football for Disabled players, Mini- Soccer and adapted small-sided games for 5-13 year olds


In research for our new Online Course ‘ INNOVATE ! Build your Grassroots Startup’ we discovered that Disruptive Innovation is much more likely to attract new players to Grassroots Football. Successful Commercial or Social Entrepreneurs underline the value of being disruptive by targeting those overlooked segments e.g. Girls, Women, Under 5 year olds, Senior Citizens, Teenagers and players overlooked in the traditional club structure.

We found that Disruptive Innovation originates in low - end or new- market footholds like informal & commercial 5-a-side football.This creates a market where none existed.



We examined the phenomenal success of the Fubles app in allowing almost 1 million players to organise informal football in European Cities and how Joy of the People in the USA , Salisbury Rovers FC in England and urban programmes in Japan are championing no cost , free play . In relation to informal play we also noted that disruptive innovation is a process as you can also see how a new entrant Bumble BFF in helping informal players meet and create teams


Another feature we noted from over 50 Grassroots Entrepreneurs we interviewed was how established Football Associations and Clubs created new divisions to focus solely on the growth opportunities from disruption

Such examples included the Czech FA’s massively successful ‘ My First Goal ‘ project to attract very young players, the English FA's extremely successful programme ' Wildcats ' for girls football and the Elk Grove Soccer Club in California, USA, which attracts over 2,000 players a week to its Recreational Programmes for less than $8.50 per week and achieves over 90% retention


Do we honestly think Grassroots Football is immune to disruptive forces ? Think how e-games have revolutionised youngsters' leisure time.There is also the phenomenon of ‘Flag Football’ in the USA with an estimated 7 million playing .‘Flag Football’ developed as a non-contact version of American football, where tackles are made by pulling off flags which all players wear on their hips. This adapted game has grown at unprecedented rates,It was reported in the New York Times that “ More American children ages 6 to 12 now play flag football than the tackle version of the sport.”

A further report by The Sports & Fitness Industry Association tells us that participation in team sports in the USA was down 3.8 million players in 2020 amid the pandemic. Flag football, however, was one of four sports (ultimate Frisbee, indoor and outdoor soccer) that saw growth.The NFL are reportedly trying to include Flag Football as a sport in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games

In a similar moves one can see the disruption in the UK that has resulted in ‘All Stars Cricket’ attracting tens of thousands to cricket post pandemic and in Australia with the introduction of Auskick as an alternative to Australian Rules and Billy’s Buddies as an alternative to Rugby League



Do you have an idea or would you like to discover an idea ?



  • It is true that markets that don't yet exist can't be analysed but the underlying drivers of participation which will form a - as yet unknown market - can be identified.Our course can help you anticipate these new markets in your community

  • The biggest rewards in Innovation will come from Creating NEW Markets where as first mover you have created not just a new programme/ service but created a new market. The key message for Innovative Entrepreneurs is “frame” the market yourself rather than allow someone else to do this

  • What is your project and which market can you disrupt ? Will it be Teenagers interested in playing recreationally , players overlooked because of the Relative Age Effect, Youngsters rejected at Tryouts, Parents unable to afford high cost ‘ Travel ‘ teams in the USA ?


Some innovations work and some don’t but we found that all innovations began as small scale projects so our course is designed to help you take the first steps to building your Grassroots Startup


  • What are the Course Benefits ?

On completion, all participants will take away a range of benefits including:

  • How to Identify and Quantify a ‘gap’ in the grassroots football market

  • How to use simple Data analysis strategies to obtain additional insight

  • Learn Easy Steps to launch your programme

  • How to Finance your Project

  • Developing an idea into a Business Plan suitable for potential investors

  • Obtaining confidential feedback to your Business Plan


  • At Sports Path we have experience of maximising the impact of Disruptive Innovation to grow participation. Are you as serious about reviving grassroots football participation as we are?


What to do next -


1.50% ‘Early Bird' offer until May 31st 2022 will be £35 ( $49). To take advantage of this offer Click here


2. From June 1st 2022 the cost of the course will be £75 (approximately $99)


3. Participants on the course can complete the course at their leisure over 6 months OR complete all the tasks on course within 28 days and receive a Full 100% refund



And you can subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter here to receive the latest industry news and analysing trends dedicated to maximising grassroots football participation

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