In 2001 the Dutch Football Association KNVB draw the conclusion that their IT-systems did not cover the needs of the organization enough and were not prepared for the future. Many processes were performed outside the central system and still involved a lot of manual interactions. Moreover, communication with clubs, officials and other persons was for the greater part done through paper. Default information systems for the sports world offering a rich functionality and well-suited for the association's needs were at that time not available.
Sportlink Services, founded in December 2002, was the result of an initiative by the KNVB, the Davinci Company, Dexels and E-Novation. The organization's main objective was to offer sports associations a suite of applications for different target groups, like staff members and clubs. The applications were to be designed to provide an extensive set of functionalities and had to be flexible and future-proof. In addition, the systems were to be built using technology based upon well-accepted IT-standards. Finally, although initially serving the requirements of the football association, the applications should not be limited to football, and should also be available to other associations without considerable modifications.
The initial version of the sports system for staff members of sport associations, Sportlink Bond, was released in 2003 for the KNVB. The professional and the amateur branch of the association both use the same system, although shielded by authorization wherever necessary. About the same time the system intended for clubs, Sportlink Club, saw the light, in the first year used by 570 clubs. In 2004 another large sports organization, the Dutch Hockey Association KNHB, decided to use the sports systems from Sportlink Services.
A major step forward in the development of the various systems is made in 2005 with the completion of the web-enabling of all sports information systems. From that moment all systems are serviced from a central location, thus expressing the model of Sportlink Services as an Application Server Provider. Due to the web-enabled systems and the corresponding advantages for both associations and clubs, new functionalities and more user-friendliness the number of clubs using the systems increased to 2,000 and two more large sports associations switched to the Sportlink systems.
In the years following the growth continued both in new systems, functionalities and the number of sports associations served by Sportlink Services. New systems were added for administrating real-time match events on smart phones followed by synchronization with the central system when completed, for administrating match forms both before and after matches, for maintaining detailed data on venues using technologies like Google maps, and for providing associations with document management systems. More functionalities were added to the existing systems providing elaborated financial, book-keeping, and venue management modules in Sportlink Club, and providing very flexible planning components on matches and officials, a private e-mail-system and many financial modules in Sportlink Bond. The number of interfaces to third parties and the number of channels and devices through which the systems could be accessed were extended significantly.
Today more than ten sports associations use the Sportlink Services systems and over 7,000 clubs are using the Sportllink Club system. Sportlink Services is a young, rapidly growing, and financially healthy organization that has become market leader as a supplier of sports information systems. With its IT-systems the organization services a wide range of users covering nearly two million active sportsmen and sportswomen.