Challenger Sports launched in the 90s, originally as a soccer coaching camp organisation, but has grown into various areas of youth football development, from its academy, overseas tours, and a virtual division.
Today they provide worldwide soccer camps and year-round training for boys and girls, with more than 300 coaches supporting around 200,000 participating players each year.
The announcement of the partnership coincided with the United Soccer Coaches Convention in January. During the interactive event, Sophie Dewar, Challenger Sports’ Regional Sales Director, joined us in the Verizon Innovation Hub.
Sophie talked about how the relationship with MiMentor came about and the Platform will help their business in the future.
“We are regular attendees at the United Soccer Coaches Convention making sure that we are staying relevant and on top of what else is out there, developing and new in the world of soccer,” explained Dewar during the live workshop.
“We met the guys from MiMentor in 2020, which was the start of our relationship.
“Our ‘Play, Train, Compete’ methodology is all about the youth player and how we go about developing them. And we can’t do that without our family of coaches.
“If we don’t develop our coaches right, they won’t be able to develop the players in the way we expect them to do so. Coach and player education and development is everything we are.”
And that’s where the MiMentor Platform will come in. In the past, Challenger Sports have organised coach recruitment and two and three-day training in the UK, at a huge financial cost, but have realised they might be missing a key area of development.
“We call ourselves the Total Soccer Solution as we do so much at Challenger Sports,” explained Dewar. “But one piece I always thought we weren’t doing to the best of our ability, given the expertise within the company, was coach education.
“There was a little gap there that I don’t think we were filling, and that’s where I started with James [Baker, MiMentor’s Director of Content and Partnerships].
“It wasn’t necessarily to provide more education for our own coaches, but how can we use a platform that takes our coach education from a couple of clinics in a season to a more consistent, continued development and education.”
“So, in January last year, I started looking at [MiMentor], then given everything that has happened since, it changed the tide a little, but and I thought that maybe we should use it internally. And that’s where we are starting.”
Challenger Sports will use MiMentor’s white-label services, essentially tailoring the MiMentor Learning Platform and its branding to fit succinctly with Challenger Sports’ brand and aims.
It will enable Challenger Sports to host and share their own content internationally, manage their own webinars and forums and track usage and performance.
Dewar continued: “I’ve been working with James for a long time. It’s been a great process and we thought we knew what we wanted, but when we’ve seen what the MiMentor Platform does, it made us think ‘we do need that, but it could also help us with something else’.
“Challenger Sports is a professional soccer coaching company. Everything we do we want to be the best at it. There are free resources out there that we could use, the user experience and interface isn’t great, though it would get us by. But what does that tell our staff?
“When I was speaking to other platforms it was really hard to come away from MiMentor because of how good it looked. The first impression it had on me, that’s what I need it to have on my staff, who I’m expecting to deliver professionalism and quality. Even that itself, even regardless of the content, was important.”
So how will Challenger Sports benefit from the MiMentor Platform?
“For version one, we’re going to use it to take that training event of two or three days, and apply it more effectively over a longer period of time, and also add to that,” said Dewar.
“In the past we have hoped that coaches come with a certain level of qualifications and experience, and then we try and enhance that. But there are also a lot of other things that we need them to know at a logistical level, so MiMentor gives us the platform where we can take care of that, but then go further than we ever have done in the development of our staff.
“Something that is actually going to develop them more as a coach and something that we’ve never been able to do before because everything we’ve needed to do in two or three days didn’t allow for some true coaching education and development.
She added: “We’re going to hopefully get the 350 coaches who are going to come out this year, onto the platform and give them what they need to know to work for Challenger Sports, but hopefully do more than that and provide some true education as well.”