As 2017 draws to a close, so does the first full year of work on Hoops Connect. It’s been a momentous year, taking in our first public product and a whole host of memorable meetings and events. Here, we look back through our blog to pick out our highlights of the year.
We don’t just see ourselves as an app that’s there to serve a function – we’re a community-conscious company eager to help people get fit and find sporting opportunities. One way we’ve worked towards that is through our interviews with people across the sporting spectrum…
“My story’s not your normal story really. Most people assume when they watch someone at the Olympics that they’ve been coached from a very young age and that was their life. But I never saw sport as a career, I was just a kid who enjoyed playing. I happened to be fast and I didn’t really know how good I was.”
Olympic silver medallist and 400m sprinting legend Roger Black.
“Sport’s just amazing isn’t it? The values that rugby has – it’s about working hard, being honest – you can have those values in your everyday life and good things will happen to you. If you’re an honest person and you work hard, good things will happen.”
Wales & British and Irish Lions rugby union icon Mike Phillips.
"#Rugby teaches values that can improve your life"
— Hoops Connect (@hoops_app) January 31, 2017
“At first I was really unfit after my illness – I could only manage about 25 yards before I was puffed. It took me about a year of training two or three times a week to be able to run 5km without stopping. But now, whether I’m training or racing, I’m not thinking about being an amputee. It’s just the person I’m trying to catch up with.”
Marathon runner, amputee and Hoops Heroes winner Chris Arthey.
“When I’d turn up they’d all raise an eyebrow, definitely. They’re surprised to see a Muslim girl refereeing! I’m kind of short as well… But I take charge, I show them what I’m about, I just say ‘listen, I love this game as much as you do, you respect me and I’ll respect you, let’s do this!’”
“The most remarkable referee in England” Jawahir Roble.
“Sport in general in this country isn’t quite there yet in terms of women’s sport. But it feels to me as though there is a real movement at the minute of women saying ‘let’s make people take notice of us here because we’re doing the business!’ We need to step up – it’s not women’s sport, it’s sport.”
England netballer and Hoops Connect ambassador Laura Malcolm.
On the subject of ambassadors…
We’re building a team of Hoops Connect ambassadors to help us spread the word on the Hoops revolution. And we’re delighted with how that’s gone this year.
“To get started in polo it isn’t actually that difficult. Everyone thinks it’s very expensive to be associated with, but you can watch a game of polo for a tenner. In the grassroots you can just to go and play for fun, it’s just like any other sport and it is one of the most fun sports out there – to watch and to play.”
Top polo player Jack Richardson tells us the sport is more accessible than you may think.
”I didn’t know much about the BBL before I left England as a teen and I didn’t follow it in the US but there’s some good players here. We have a lot of talented players and a lot of potential to be a strong league in Europe. I think with the right push the BBL could be big time in the future and I’m excited to be a part of that process.”
Manchester Giants forward Richard Bell gets us excited about the future of British basketball.
Half-court shots with ambassador @RBell_15.
— Hoops Connect (@hoops_app) October 25, 2017
“I played a few sports, football, tennis, a bit of athletics. But with badminton, I liked playing a sport where all the decisions were mine and I had to rely on myself. It was the sport that came most naturally to me and it was easier to see the improvements I was making.”
Pro badminton star Toby Penty explains how he got hooked on the sport.
We’ve been making friends too
One of the most rewarding aspects of working in the sports industry is having the opportunity to meet so many great, interesting people. And a lot of those we’ve met have become long-term partners of Hoops Connect. The guys at VX, Switch, Manchester Futsal Club, TagRev and UK Flair are great to work with. But it’s been when we’ve got out to events that we’ve had the most fun…
“The feedback we have received has been immense, so encouraging. We had so many emails and letters, with people saying stuff such as ‘it’s like going to the Olympics but being able to have a go at the events yourself’. It’s very exciting and very rewarding, and I’m not afraid to say we are pretty proud as well.”
The Hoops team had a ball at the GoFest events in the summer…
— Hoops Connect (@hoops_app) May 29, 2017
“It’s a new idea, so it’s something that I take pride in pioneering throughout the country and trying to bring a new form of basketball forward. We’re bringing something new and something different – it’s maybe a bit of a merger between 5×5 and street basketball, which is why I’m excited by it.”
… and the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits at the BallOut 3×3 finals either!
— Hoops Connect (@hoops_app) July 15, 2017
A year of incredible progress
The year started with our development team working furiously to prepare Hoops Connect for a public release, and we end it with what we think is a great product and a growing user base. Let’s look at how we got here…
- Chapter 5, published February 8: After years of hard work and commitment, the first Hoops beta is almost ready for release. And we think it looks awesome – even if we say so ourselves.
- Chapter 6, published May 12: As we speak, the lucky few who signed up for early access to Hoops are using it for the first time. That’s right, our public beta has been released – and you can be sure that the official release won’t be too far behind.
- Jonas in Hoops Hangouts, published June 20: The app has been in the making now for about five years, and it has been through a lot of up and downs. Just to get to the Beta where we are now, to be so close to Version One, is so exciting for me.
- Chapter 7, published July 18: After years of hard work, we can proudly sit back and watch people organising their sports lives through Hoops, exactly as founder Jonas had in mind when he created the app.
- Jonas in Hoops Hangouts, published October 20: We’ve had setbacks. We’ve had days when we’ve thought we were finished. But then it’s two steps forward one steps back. We’re always trying to improve, and it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. We need to be patient – it’s a long process.
In 2018, the marathon continues. Thanks for following us in 2017, see you next year!
Hoops is now available in app stores, so you can use us to find opportunities for any sport or fitness activity you can think of. Simply click here to download the app for Android, and here for iOS – or search for Hoops Connect.
Just because Hoops is out, it doesn’t mean that our work ends. In fact, it’s only just beginning. So, if you want to keep up with how we’re driving the app forwards, click here to subscribe to our emails, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Medium and even on Spotify. We’re everywhere, and hopefully we’ll be on your phone soon too!