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Sports clubs using app for contact tracing to help return to play

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Clubs will be expected to maintain records of training sessions and interactions between members to facilitate contact tracing in the event of a positive Covid-19 result being confirmed later by any person in the group (stock photo)

Clubs will be expected to maintain records of training sessions and interactions between members to facilitate contact tracing in the event of a positive Covid-19 result being confirmed later by any person in the group (stock photo)

SPORTSFILE

Clubs will be expected to maintain records of training sessions and interactions between members to facilitate contact tracing in the event of a positive Covid-19 result being confirmed later by any person in the group (stock photo)

GAA clubs and soccer teams across the country will be able to trace Covid-19 breakouts among players and members via an app usually used to help with administrative tasks and memberships.

Co Clare-based ClubZap currently facilitates communications and payments for sports clubs but has adjusted its software to help clubs return to play safely in the wake of Covid-19. Governing bodies are set to roll out a series of new protocols aimed at allowing participation in sport to recommence fully in line with government guidelines.

Groups of up to 15 people are currently allowed a return to non-contact outdoor training activity while maintaining social distancing at all times, with activity gradually ramping up through summer.

Clubs will be expected to maintain records of training sessions and interactions between members to facilitate contact tracing in the event of a positive Covid-19 result being confirmed later by any person in the group.

ClubZap chief executive and co-founder Aidan Quilligan said the app can help clubs cope with the burden.

Since it was created in 2016, the app has been used to streamline administrative work and messaging in clubs. It has now been enhanced to help teams cope with new Covid-19 requirements.

"What we have normally been about is allowing a coach to contact a player or the parent of a player to see if they are coming to training or not," Quilligan explained.

"There are three pillars to return-to-play with Covid-19; you need to plan who is going to be at your training session and know how you are going to lay out your space, you need to collect information on who is attending so we have made some slight tweaks to how the app works, so people can confirm they don't have symptoms before coming to training, the third piece is the contact tracing - a log of who attended."

When training sessions are organised, club members will receive a form via the app with a series of Covid-19-related questions. Members will be able to confirm if they have symptoms, comply with guidelines and if they have read the relevant Covid-19 safety documentation. Depending on the answers given, this will have the potential to highlight cases where a person has answered a question in such a way that they may be a Covid-19 risk.

"One of the responsibilities on clubs is to make sure everybody has filled in the form before training, so we give them that visibility. They can see who responded and if they filled out the required form.

"It has the potential to flag if someone answered a question in a certain way."

The app is currently used by more than 500 sports organisations across the country, and other clubs in the US, UK, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.

If a club member tests positive for the virus, Quilligan said it will be easy to trace who that person came in contact with via the app and they have been working with clubs, including Na Fianna GAA, to hone it to specific requirements and the return-to-play protocols enforced for each sport. Many clubs have already appointed dedicated Covid-19 officers tasked with enforcing social distancing and prioritising player welfare. They must ensure players RSVP ahead of training sessions and allow their club or coach prepare for expected numbers sufficiently.

Quilligan said the app allows for this and enables clubs to monitor and record actual player attendance and ensure that documentation for all attending players is stored securely. It can be accessed at any time, so that necessary notifications can be made if needed.

"Typically, clubs are relying on a fragmented array of solutions to update members, including websites, social media, mobile messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and even noticeboards and word of mouth. Not only is this approach hard to manage, but it's ineffective, with players regularly missing key information.

"It's understandable that clubs may have a little anxiety around the new guidelines, especially as clubs return-to-play a little earlier than first expected, and the pressure is on to get players back on the pitch safely.

"ClubZap's new capabilities remove this stress and make it as easy as it can be to comply with the guidelines."

Sunday Independent


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