With the launch of its new AFA Superapp, AFA Community is making an active and healthy lifestyle accessible to more Malaysians. The superapp lets users easily create and find sports activities, manage RSVPs in groups, book venues and pay seamlessly, earn loyalty points and redeem rewards, and enjoy deals from partners.
"The two things the superapp aims to do is make an active sports lifestyle easy and rewarding for the sports community. Since we needed an all-in-one solution for this, digitalizing this process was the answer. I think it's good timing as well because people are already digital natives – especially this generation. Providing a platform to connect with each other is one way of speaking their language. We've also seen how important having a community is, during the lockdown. Sports brings people together and gives them a sense of belonging," AFA Community CEO and Co-Founder Samuel Siew told Digital Life Asia.
Healthy and active lifestyle
"As for the idea of creating a rewarding experience, this had been brewing in my mind since 2018 when I was still working with the Football Association of Malaysia. We created a grassroots brand called 'SupaRimau' Charter, which allows all football academies to register their players into a system and enjoy privileges from brands and partners through a 'SupaRimau' card.
"The system took only three months to build and grew to accommodate more than 100,000 players in the database that year. I knew there would be potential to replicate this across the sports industry. Getting points for staying active and redeeming it for rewards is something you can look forward to experiencing on our app very soon," Siew said.
The digitalization of sports supports the core strategies that the Youth and Sports Ministry of Malaysia and the National Sports Institute of Malaysia (ISN) have mapped out in order to make Malaysia an active nation by 2023.
"Sports has the ability to bring Malaysians together, transcending differences and uniting us in a common pursuit. Whether played for fun or in a competitive setting, sports has the power to engage and foster a sense of community. Hence, the launch of the new AFA Superapp has the potential to bring Malaysia's sports industry to greater heights through digitalization, while also providing easy accessibility to participate and promote a more healthy and active lifestyle amongst Malaysians," said Malaysian Minister of Youth and Sports Hannah Yeoh at the launch event.
"AFA Community is Phase One of six emerging sports technology startups with which ISN have shareholding and active participation. We are proud to support and stand along with this visionary team and believe that this platform will be a real game-changer for the sports community in Malaysia at all levels," said ISN CEO Ahmad Faedzal.
What's the story behind AFA Community?
"AFA Community was officially founded in November 2022, but the story starts way before that. Earlier that year I returned to Malaysia after working with Train Effective (a Rio Ferdinand app) in London. From that experience I really felt like there was potential for Malaysia to grow in the area of sports tech as well.
"I got to know Raymond and Edwin in July. They had already built the B2B AFA venue booking app at the time. We talked about how a sports superapp could take things further and really grow the sports community here. People who are into sports would already be doing activities on a regular basis. I knew we could add value to their experience and also expand that community. This meant creating a platform that actively engages users, brings people together, includes more people who are new to sports so they can make new friends, and, most importantly to ease the process of finding activities/classes, booking venues, connecting with coaches, and so on," Siew said.
By September, Siew and his team started working on building the AFA Superapp.
Co-developed by SegWitz, the AFA Superapp has already garnered more than 150,000 users as of March 2023, booked over 500,000 hours played across 90 sports venues in 11 states – Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, Malacca, Penang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Perak, Kedah, Sabah, and Sarawak – and will continue to progressively establish a wider presence across the nation in the coming months.
Sports and nation building
Asked what role sports plays in nation building, Siew replied: "Sports brings people together, regardless of race, religion, or background. It unites us as a nation because with sports you naturally put aside your differences and get excited about a shared experience and a shared passion. I strongly believe that when people are connecting with like-minded individuals, it creates a stronger sense of community. So I always say, sports is by the community, for the community. Whether it's through building state-of-the-art sports facilities, providing funding for grassroots sports programs, or simply volunteering to coach a local youth team, everyone has a role to play. Sports is that channel which helps us build our nation and paves the way for the next generation of athletes, leaders, and citizens who will go on to make a positive impact on our society."
What message would Siew like to share to encourage more Malaysians to become more active in sports?
"For Malaysia specifically, what's concerning is that we have the highest obesity rate in Southeast Asia. This is a significant health concern because it puts people at risk of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. While our government has taken steps to address this issue by launching campaigns to promote physical activity and implementing policies to reduce the unhealthy food options, we have to do our part as well. We are responsible for our own physical and mental wellbeing.
"I think to encourage more Malaysians to get active in sports, we need to debunk some common misconceptions about sports. Many people assume that sports is only for the athletically gifted or for young people only. That's not true. Sports is for everyone. Regardless of age, gender, or ability, there is a sport that you can enjoy and benefit from. Some people might think that sports requires a lot of time and money. However, there are many low-cost and accessible sports options that people of all backgrounds can participate in. It could be doing a few rounds of walking or running in your own neighborhood, or meeting friends for gym sessions in your local park. At the end of the day, I think we all aspire to live happy and healthy lives – where we feel energized and ready to take on the day, where we have a good community of friends, and where we feel good about ourselves," he said.
So, are you ready for a game-changer? Check out the AFA Superapp today!