Powered by MOJO: Macarthur Football Association

How MOJO helped modernize coach education for a 40-year-old soccer association in Australia

Laura Lambert

| 5 min read

Macarthur Football Association

When Kevin Guardado Amaya joined Macarthur Football Association (MFA) as the community coach manager, he was tasked with an important, ambitious goal: to make coach education more accessible.

And with one impulsive click on YouTube, he found his solution: the MOJO app.

The video he watched — the 10 best dribbling drills for kids — was right in the MiniRoos age bracket: grassroots soccer for boys and girls age 5 through 12. “I thought, This is exactly the thing we are missing in our curriculum,” says Guardado Amaya. “It was a perfect solution.” 

The only thing: the MOJO app wasn’t yet available in Australia. (At the time, MOJO was less than a year old.) 

Nevertheless, Guardado Amaya reached out to highfive@mojo.sport in early January, to ask permission to use the YouTube videos in training sessions before the season kicked off that April. His email helped fast-track plans to unlock the app internationally. “I reached out to Kevin to let him know he could use the app and helped bring Macarthur FA onto the MOJO platform,” says John Howe, who runs strategy and development for MOJO. From there, Guardado Amaya was able to leverage the app to transform coaching for all of MFA.

Macarthur goes modern

MFA, an umbrella organization for nearly two dozen member clubs spread across Campbelltown, Camden and Wollondilly, sits about an hour outside of Sydney. With nearly 11,000 players, age 5 and up, and some 900 coaches, it’s a burgeoning hub of grassroots football — at a time when football participation, one of the most popular youth sports across Australia, has been leading the return to sport post-Covid.

Not incidentally, Covid and Guardado Amaya arrived at almost the same time. His first season with Macarthur FA, the second half of the season was cancelled due to Covid. And then in 2022, when lockdowns were finally lifted, there were historic floods.

Coach education was heavily affected, in terms of practical part of course,” says Guardado Amaya.

But in many ways, the timing could not have been more fortuitous. Guardado Amaya discovered MOJO’s soccer curriculum on YouTube during those down times, and by January 2022, the MOJO app allowed coach education to go virtual for the first time. 

It has since been embedded into formal coach education ever since.

“MOJO is really filling in that gap that we have in coach education currently in Australia,” says Guardado Amaya. 

Before MOJO, coach education was all in-person, on the field training, which required two or three evenings or mornings from prospective volunteers. Once the training was digitized, coaches only needed one in-person training. 

What’s more, by switching the curriculum to MOJO videos — literally embedding videos into slideshows — the training portion itself became more efficient and effective. 

“We don’t have access to concise, clear, proscriptive videos, where you can really see how a session works,” Guardado Amaya explains. “Coaches can get the idea from the .pdf, but when it gets to running the activity, everything becomes a mess. With the video, you can see how each person moves. That’s the big help for them.” 

Practice plans, Aussie-style

After one full season with the MOJO app, and, in particular, once the MOJO and MLS partnership was announced in August 2022, Guardado Amaya decided to take things one step further: creating custom curriculum. “I dedicated some time in our postseason, which for us is September through December,” he says. He built session plans for each of the major MiniRoos age groups.

For a one-man team, it allowed Guardado Amaya to help hundreds of grassroots coaches on the field each week, not just during coach training. And it was easy.

“It’s drag and drop,” he says. “It’s the quickest way that I’ve ever created a curriculum.” 

His only real challenge? The quirks of American English. 

“Scrimmage — no one knows what it means here,” laughs Guardado Amaya. “We just called it a game.”

Retention — and results

As with almost every soccer club the world over, a key struggle for MFA has been to recruit and retain volunteer coaches who are the backbone of grassroots programs. 

“MOJO makes it easy to coach — that is the benefit,” says Guardado Amaya. “And it makes it easier to come back. So it helps with retention, just out of ease of use.”

He cites the impressive growth among community coaches first using MOJO. In a year’s time, Macarthur FA doubled the number of coaches using the app. “The feedback we’ve received from coaches has been overwhelmingly positive, a testament to the value and utility of our platform,” says Guardado Amaya. 

At the same time, interest in the sport has only grown, buoyed in no small part by Australia’s strong run in the World Cup. 

“I strongly believe that the MOJO app has had a significant impact on grassroots coaching. When I visit local club training nights, I often see coaches implementing games like ‘Duck Tails’ and ‘Dribble Derby’ that they have learned from the app. It’s great to see such positive results and engagement from our community.”

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