UK: Welsh entrepreneur and sports enthusiast, Louis Ballard, has set up a new business, PASA, to connect sports fans travelling to away games with local hosts,
Play Away/Stay Away [PASA], which launched last autumn, aims to help fans save money and forge a greater community with hosts.
That is despite the fact that Bollard suffered a brain aneurysm at the start of the year after suffering from dizziness and impaired coordination while playing in a semi-professional football match for his team Chingford Athletic, which was later diagnosed as a brain aneurysm.
Following that, the newly-formed business watched on as the coronavirus decimated this summer’s sporting calendar and fixtures are only just returning with some pilot events with fans being scheduled.
Denbigh-based Bollard’s inspiration initially came from the Adopt-a-Lion scheme during UK Rugby’s tour of New Zealand and Germany football club Borussia Dortmund’s offer of free beds to visiting fans from Monaco. He himself had used a similar platform when cycling from Switzerland, where hosts put riders up for a night as they cross the continent.
Bollard told BusinessLive: “I wanted to replicate this in football and rugby – we had more than 200 signed up with the initial launch. Coronavirus has impacted but it has also given me time to revamp this and we are building up numbers again.”
Users pay an annual fee to be on the site and use it to save money on travel for sporting events. The reception has been positive thus far, especially in the rugby community.
Airbnb had previously attempted to promote the growth of sporting communities in advance of major events in Japan. The company raised its profile in the nation during last autumn’s Rugby World Cup in anticipation for the Olympic and Paralympic Games which were scheduled for this year and which are being sponsored by Airbnb.
The time spent in recovery from his brain aneurysm allowed Bollard to refocus on the website. He rebuilt the site to create a separate area for rugby fans, with plans for a football site in the works.
PASA has gained additional coverage recently, as it has been listed at number 52 in TechRound’s Top 100 UK start-ups. The company was listed ahead of Andy Murray’s sportswear brand Castore, and alongside high-end brands such as Cuvva, Gousto, and Zoom.
Find more info at PASA’s website here.