A Soweto-based start-up is shining a spotlight on talented female soccer players with a new app called BallTalent.
In the wake of growing interest in women’s soccer, a Soweto-based talent scouting app called BallTalent is shining a spotlight on talented female soccer players, so they can be recognised by local and international scouts.
Recently, international competitions such as the Women’s Africa Cup, which saw South Africa’s Banyana Banyana rise to victory, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup, have spurred women’s interest in soccer.
BallTalent is the brainchild of Simon Mokgotlhoa (30) and Lesego Ndlovu (29). two self-taught innovators. They say their app was developed out of a passion for technology and concern for undiscovered local talent.
“Over the past couple of years, women’s soccer has grown phenomenally,”says Ndlovu. “As the sport continues to flourish, I am immensely proud of the work we’re doing to help young female players enter well-respected teams.”
BallTalent recently placed several female players who have experience on the under-17 South African Women’s National Team on the international market.
Aliyaah Allie and Jessica Wade of JVW were signed, respectively, by Glasgow City in the United Kingdom and Emek Hefer in Israel; Katrina Maguire of Croseus joined Aris Limassol in Cyprus; and Ronnel Donnelly of Shooting Stars went to University of Western Ohio (USA).
On home ground, BallTalent has assisted with transferring Essien Makwarimba of Jomo Cosmos to Mamelodi Sundowns, and Ayesha Moosa of Soweto Fabulous to the University of Johannesburg.
Telkom group executive for innovation and transformation Dr Mmaki Jantjies says the tech start-up is one of Telkom FutureMakers’ beacons of success. Telkom has provided the start-up with a research and development grant of R150 000.
Founded in 2015, FutureMakers is Telkom’s Enterprise and Supplier Development (ESD) unit. It provides small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with both financial and non-financial support including training, mentoring, and digital skills.
Having assisted more than 2,600 SMEs since its inception, FutureMakers advances their growth by providing access to external innovation and diverse supply chain partners through new entrepreneurship.
Mokgotlhoa says the BallTalent app showcases crucial player data and match footage – a combination that positions BallTalent as an ideal tool for scouts. It gives users the opportunity to view the player they are interested in without the hassle of travelling to soccer matches.
“Unfortunately, matches in the lower league structures do not get enough television,” says Mokgotlhoa. “The lack of exposure makes precise decision-making a challenge for scouts. The downside of this is plenty of undiscovered talent goes unnoticed.”
To find a player, scouts input specific characteristics, like level of experience or position, and the app generates results that meet those requirements – making the job more efficient and cost-effective.
Clubs can also use the app to monitor all their games to improve team performance. Talented players can register directly with BallTalent, so that evidence of their skills is available to scouts.
“So far, 12 scouts, eight clubs and more than 600 individual soccer players have signed up to the app,” says Ndlovu. “While our focus right now is on soccer, the app has the capacity to be used for other sports. I am excited by the potential it has to revolutionise the relationship between local talent and scouts.”