PLAYBuilder Q&A with Athletics Australia

Athletics Australia is the national governing body for athletics Down Under. Adam Bishop is their General Manager of Growth and Development and has been working with Sport for Life to utilize the PLAYBuilder platform to support their work in delivering quality sport programs. Sport for Life connected with Bishop to hear how that process is going so far. 

S4L: What made you look for a solution like PLAYBuilder?

A.B.: Through the Australian government’s Sporting Schools program, Athletics Australia delivers just under 1000 athletics programs to 110,000 children each year, utilizing more than 200 accredited coaches. Kids’ Athletics makes up the majority of these programs. In late 2019 we also piloted a physical literacy focused program as an extension of Kids’ Athletics that was delivered in the community setting. Alongside this, we’d also previously completed some research in partnership with La Trobe University and Sport Australia which demonstrated that Kids’ Athletics helped children develop across all four domains (physical, psychological, social, and cognitive) of the Australia Physical Literacy Standard. 

Since the inception of these programs, the content for the 8-week Kids’ Athletics program has been provided to deliverers in the form of large PDF manuals. These manuals were fine for viewing on desktop computers or laptops, but were impractical for taking out in the field to support program delivery. We wanted to provide coaches with the ability to access the content via a phone or tablet wherever they were delivering, with the view that this would improve coach effectiveness and enhance the experience and learning outcomes for participants. In order to address this challenge, we were exploring the development of an app or mobile responsive platform to provide access to the program content when we discovered PLAYBuilder.

Having program content, including information on instructional cues, equipment, and safety, along with supporting visuals (images and video) of how the activities operate available to deliverers out in the field will help us support coaches to provide high quality and effective programs.

S4L: Why did you choose PLAYBuilder?

Adam Bishop

A.B.: I had been following the work of Sport for Life via the regular newsletters and whilst we were considering the development of the app, I came across PLAYBuilder. I explored the platform’s functionality and realized that it very closely matched what we were intending to build. Given the complexities and the cost associated with building an app for what we required, I reached out to Sport for Life to enquire about the opportunity to potentially license a white label version of PLAYBuilder that we could develop our content in.

S4L: When you first purchased PLAYBuilder did you intend to share full access to your members? If not, what were the reservations or limitations in sharing access to your members?

A.B.: We intend to provide licenses on an as needed basis to our accredited coaches and teachers in schools who have undergone the online program delivery upskilling. In this way, we can control access to the content and ensure that those who have access to the program content are accredited and appropriately trained.

S4L: Recently you decided to contract Sport for Life to implement and digitize your Athletics Australia curriculum into PLAYBuilder. How was that experience for you?

A.B.: It was a really positive experience for us. Like many organizations across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to make some difficult decisions as an organization around staffing. This particularly impacted the Growth and Development team, with most of the staff temporarily  transitioning to reduced hours. We had hoped to use the pandemic period as an opportunity to build this content in PLAYBuilder, but with work volumes remaining relatively unchanged and with reduced staffing levels, we didn’t have the human resource capacity to devote to populating the content. Engaging the Sport for Life team to do this work for us, particularly with their knowledge of the system, was a very efficient way to quickly build the content so it would be ready to deploy. It also allowed us to easily build in the Australian Health and Physical Education curriculum content descriptors..

S4L: What organizational processes does PLAYBuilder enhance? How much does it reduce the cost and time to complete these particular processes?

A.B.: Given the current restrictions and uncertainty in Australian schools with programs like Sporting Schools at present, we have delayed the deployment of PLAYBuilder until October 2020. We believe PLAYBuilder will make it easier for us to provide access to and control the distribution of the program content to our workforce, as well as improving the effectiveness of our coaches by providing easy access to the program content no matter where they are delivering to kids across Australia.

S4L: What would you tell others who might be considering PLAYBuilder? Would you recommend PLAYBuilder to your peers?

If you’re looking to digitize your content to make it more usable and accessible and improve its look and feel, then PLAYBuilder may be a suitable solution. If you’re looking to build a bespoke platform to distribute your content, given the time and cost associated with doing this, PLAYBuilder is definitely worth exploring.

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