Local Sport Search, a new service created by St. Catharines resident Kyle Chiki, looks to make joining a local recreation league as easy as a click of the mouse.
The new website launched last month with the goal of creating a database where people can go to find local sport and rec leagues of all kinds — everything from basketball, to baseball, to bowling.
Local Sport Search was started by Chiki, a Niagara College graduate with a background in both marketing and web design.
Chiki said he started the website himself, and developed the idea for a regional sports database when he was involved in a local baseball league.
“It is basically a one-stop shop for everything sports related in Niagara. I have been working on it now about two years in my spare time. I came up with the idea because I used to run sports leagues, so some of these leagues are hard to find, or the information is outdated, so I created this online directory.”
Local Sport Search currently has over 300 listings on its website online, with not only information on local rec leagues, but also information on gyms, youth camps, dance studios, and more.
For Chiki, starting the project from scratch became a time-consuming endeavour. It required many long hours of web searches to pull the whole database together, and translate it to an easy-to-use, user-friendly website for people to access.
“It took me quite a while because I literally had to search every league in the region and store it in a big database.”
Since then, Chiki said he has hired a part-time employee to help manage the workload as Local Sport Search expands into markets beyond Niagara.
“My initial plan is to start in Niagara. The next step would be to expand into the Hamilton region. Once things get moving, leagues will be able to add their information to the website, rather than me having to pull it manually.”
Hoping to make it easier for anyone looking to join an after-school or work team, Chiki said the goal of Local Sport Search is simple: get more people playing sports in Niagara, and help local sports league have a platform to advertise.
For many leagues, reaching an audience, and getting the word out about their services, can be a challenge, something that Chiki hopes Local Sport Search can help with.
Chiki said he has already partnered with Brock University to help market Local Sport Search, and hopes to launch a robust advertising campaign soon.
“Even with the pandemic, I felt the timing was right. A lot of leagues are starting to reopen for their fall seasons.”
Bryan Levesque, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News