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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Brown

Heading toward accessibility: How SoccerHead is improving opportunities in youth soccer everywhere

Image courtesy of Gilda Doria

Getting a ride home, ordering food, managing finances, and dating — these are all areas where technology has worked to create a community or address a shared need. And the list goes on.

Over the last decade, apps and websites aiming to ease access to certain products and services have been steadily growing. The ability to order a ride home in a matter of minutes or set up a date with a stranger is easily possible for anyone with a smartphone at their fingertips.

This is exactly why SoccerHead Owner and Co-Founder Gilda Doria began her mission to make opportunities in soccer accessible to everyone, all through an application.

“I had this path and I was so fortunate, and I think a lot of things need to happen in the right way for you to follow on your journey,” Doria said. “I want to make it super easy and accessible for everyone. What I mean by that is accessible resources and accessibility for people to enjoy the game that has nothing to do with spending thousands and thousands of dollars.”

A former Duke women’s soccer captain and member of the Boston Breakers Reserves, Doria has been a soccer fanatic since she was a child. However, it was actually a break from soccer that led her down the path of business and technology; after picking up an injury while playing with Duke undergrad, Doria applied to Duke’s Fuqua School of Business.

Gilda Doria juggling a soccer ball on grass field.
SoccerHead Co-Founder Gilda Doria juggles a soccer ball. Photo courtesy of Gilda Doria.

Following eight years of working in the technology sector, Doria realized she still craved to work in the sport of soccer. So, instead of waiting to find the perfect job, she created one for herself.

“I was like, ‘I don't know if I’m going to find the job I want, so why don't I make it with the idea I have been back of the napkin-ing?’” Doria said. “I just think there's this sweet spot that's never been tapped into of sports and technology, specifically with my passion being soccer. We could make this and really help kids connect and emphasize accessibility by making it easy to use.”

Although the final product is not yet finished, the idea of SoccerHead is to create a social network consisting of soccer fanatics like Doria. Similar to other social media platforms, users can create an account and use it to share their progress, connect with college coaches, and access resources provided by mentors and service partners ranging from nutritionists to sports psychologists, trainers, and more. But instead of fighting through a void of other users with different interests on apps like Twitter or Instagram, everyone on SoccerHead will be there for one reason — their love for soccer.

“When people look to apps, they look for resources,” Doria said. “Sometimes kids feel pressure to check a box and participate in a sport so they can go play in college, and sometimes it feels very heavy. We want the complete opposite experience of that on our app. We want people to fall in love with the game and have the joy and passion integrated back into their life.”

Doria hopes that SoccerHead will reinvigorate people’s love for playing soccer, particularly youth players that may be needing an extra spark to break out of their well-established practice-play-win-repeat routine.

“The way I experienced the sport was just so different,” Doria said. “It was connecting with my teammates. It was playing wall ball at Disney's Soccer Showcase. It was just really loving it. And I feel like we've kind of moved away from that.”

So, Doria chose to kickstart the project with the person who truly ignited her passion as a youth player — her former club coach, Scott Baker. Playing for the South Florida club Team Boca, Doria met Baker when she was just 13.

“He pushed me to do my best, not only on the field but also off the field, so I'm forever indebted to him,” Doria said. “And we're always kind of brainstorming opportunities to kind of give back to the community in a way that's super impactful. I'm super excited to be doing this and I don’t think I would be able to do it without him.”

Along with Baker, SoccerHead also has technical developers and a designer assisting with the process of making the app, but Doria says they are in the seed stage and open to working with strategic investors interested in investing in the idea.

Though still in the early stages, SoccerHead aims to launch the app by the end of 2023. For now, the group is focused on user testing and feedback, which includes interviewing athletes and their parents to ensure the platform will be an effective solution to the wants and needs of players and their support systems. Doria emphasizes that listening to the people actually playing and experiencing the sport right now will be what sets the company apart from others.

“It's been very validating, having the conversations with parents and players, and I think it's really the most important because they're the ones living it every day,” Doria said. “I had an experience that's probably a little different than everyone's having now, so connecting with them, hearing from them, really listening, and then applying those things into what we're creating is what will make this super successful.”


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