Player representation has always been a people business but an Irish company reaching out to the world has ambitions to bring at least a significant part of it into the technology era.
It has happened at a rapid pace in every other sector within sport and the dreams of Sport Endorse are certainly something that could take flight.
Back in the day, the only way to get a player to come along and speak to customers or pose for a picture outside your new showroom was to know someone who knew someone who could get you the number of someone who might have the ear of the player you wanted to talk to.
“Any chance you could do me a quick favour,” was a phrase that the inter-county player at the local club was used to hearing and if they could they would but no one knew how much might be a fair price.
Sport Endorse is all about helping both sides to do just that and to help create new bridges between stars that might be great to help in business and the opportunities that their status might put them in line for to enhance their earning.
It was set up by Declan Bourke, coming out of a finance and tech background as the Irish MD of IG and Trevor Twamley who had been the Commercial Director of Setanta Sports.
Bourke had forged a relationship with a number of Leinster Rugby players getting them to make appearances and put their name to content around the Rugby World Cup in 2011.
“At that level, players have personal agents to look after their commercial affairs but there is a host of stars just below the very top for whom the attention of an agent for commercial opportunities is harder to attract,” said Bourke.
“We are providing a platform where they can take a look at different opportunities and put themselves out there as willing to help the kind of businesses and services that might appeal to them.”
Among the elite players listed this morning on the Sport Endorse app are Dean Rock and Damien Comer from Gaelic Games, Scott Fardy, James Lowe and Eimear Considine from Rugby, Jenny Egan, Sanita Puspure and Eve McCrystal who could shoot to prominence again in 2020 as part of Ireland’s teams heading to the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
If you want to get Chris Kamara to come over and add a sprinkle of stardust then Sport Endorse provides you with a one-stop shop from Dublin that can put you in contact directly with him.
There is an Emerging talent programme where the team can offer help and assistance to young players coming through in terms of how they can build their own personal brand and put a value on what they are worth to businesses.
Young golfer Evelyn Park is on that team, as well as Lucca Allen from motor racing and Giorgia Lyons an Alpine Skier.
Sport Endorse provides the window through which the talent of youth can be seen and assessed alongside that of more established talent.
“We are based in Dublin but this is very much an opportunity-driven by technology, to reach out way beyond our borders,” continued Bourke.
“There are a number of athletes from the NFL and the NBA that are on the site and we are as easily accessible to a Wal-Mart in Wilmington as we are to a Lidl manager in Limerick looking to reach into different sports to attract publicity or footfall.”
The business side of the house takes a small fee from relationships that come about following on from the initial contact. There is no up-front fee to be placed on the app and open yourself up to opportunity. Similarly to businesses it is something that can be tried and tested before having to pay a fee.
The value comes when the value is delivered and over time you can see that a marketplace for talent crossing over into business for short term association and benefit can be a winner for both sides.
Bourke and Twamley are banking on that happening and there being a win for them in terms of having forged the connection in the first place.
The way in which people find partnerships in life has changed to being one that is driven by social media and the phone in your hand. Linked In was only founded in 2002 on the premise that “your network is bigger than you think.”
If Sport Endorse can succeed in bringing that to the world of sport then they are certainly one to watch over the coming years.
Image Credit: Sport Endorse, Michael Chester