App developer Raymond H'ng wants to make it easy for sports-loving people to locate and book venues for their activities
THE frustration Raymond H'ng experienced from looking for and booking sports venues spurred him on to develop an app that will solve these two issues.
The 28-year-old sports enthusiast, who is also an app developer, said booking sports venues had always been "a major headache" for people who love playing badminton, tennis, soccer and other sports.
H'ng, a graduate from Taylor's University with a bachelor's degree in international business and marketing, said the biggest hassle in booking a venue is the "horrendous waiting time".
"The dreadful queue sometimes takes away my motivation to play. However, the frustration is also the impetus for the development of the Athletes for Athletes (AFA) app," he said.
HOW IT STARTED
H'ng has been active in sports since young.
From playing basketball in his adolescent years to badminton as he grew older, his passion for sports has never wavered. Till today, he is still active in at least a couple of sports activities.
"Sports is an important part of my life as it is also how I network. As for the development of AFA, the idea has been floating in my head as my badminton mates and I always faced booking issues.
"After analysing the problem from all angles, I decided to come up with a solution," he added.
Together with his childhood friends, whom he met up with again after many years through sports activities, they came up with a mobile app that allows people to book venues directly.
It was definitely a big improvement over having to manually book sports venues with pen-and-paper, calls or text messages.
"Our aim is to connect people both physically and virtually through technology. We want to bring sports enthusiasts together through this AFA platform.
"It's as easy as buying movie tickets online," he added.
A BREAK WITH TRADITION
With digitalisation being the new normal in this Covid-19 age, AFA has become relevant in the sporting world.
"The mobile application interface allows users to select their preferred sport, location and the venue they desire.
"Once selected, just proceed to book and that's it," H'ng said.
The recently launched app includes 33 sports venues such as Setia Alam Badminton Arena Enterprise, Seremban Archery Learning Center, Archers Studio Subang and Tennis Town.
The app will also help you search for sports venues near your location with updates on availability.
With the digital booking system, payment can easily be done via debit or credit card, financial process exchange (FPX), online banking or e-wallet.
"Users will also be able to collect points for every booking which are redeemable for promotions and more through the app," said H'ng.
The biggest challenge for H'ng lies in marketing the app and getting acceptance from users.
Feedback and especially criticism are also part and parcel of the whole process, though H'ng sees the latter as "a good thing".
"It'll help improve the app," he said.
The AFA app was launched right after the Movement Control Order (MCO) was lifted. "Over the months, we have been responding to feedback and improving it," he said.
H'ng and his team have big plans for the app as they intend for it to be more than just a platform to book sports venues.
"Our vision is to build AFA into a sports lifestyle app. We are also reaching out to other brands and will be launching new features soon, including the AFA Smart Lighting feature," he said.
The automatic lighting system works with IoT (Internet of Things) and will be based on the courts reserved and the number of players.
On scanning a QR code, the lights at the venue will be switched on for the duration of the session.
"The new technology will have direct control over the bookings, lights and automation of the entire sports venue. We plan to implement this soon."
H'ng also hopes to promote the app in Indonesia and Thailand.
"Besides this, the app will also have links to sports equipment e-commerce platforms soon," he said.