An innovative app created by a former professional basketball player from the North East is gaining increasing recognition in the sporting world.
Adam Barnes, who played with the Newcastle Eagles between 1991 and 2001, is now working full-time with a team of 12 on High5it, which allows fans to show appreciation of their favourite football players in real time during matches.
The free app, which is designed to emphasis positivity in sport, also includes a host of easy-to-use features, such as chat function to communicate with friends, statistics and promotions.
“It’s a simple way for people to say, ‘That was good’,” Adam said.
“We’re trying to bring some positivity back to football from a fan’s point of view. It’s a means of supporting your team and supporting your players through ‘high fiving’ them.
“It’s a true fan’s app and it’s different to what others are currently doing.”
Mr Barnes first became interested in the world of digital on creating a website for his coaching business, Jammin’ Sports Management, for which he designed a website.
On retiring from sport, he had considered becoming a PE teacher. But when a friend who works at Sunderland University saw the site, he suggested a degree in a related field.
Several years later, Mr Barnes had graduated with a first class honours from an interactive multi-media course. While working as systems development manager for Washington company Oil Consultants, he conceived the idea for the app and spoke to the directors of the company about it.
Enthused, they generated sufficient funds to get it off the ground and seconded Mr Barnes for four days a week to bring the concept to reality.
Since December, he and a dedicated team have been working full time on High5it, the latest version of which has just been released.
“The user feedback so far has been really good,” Mr Barnes said. “People find it clear and easy to use because their aren’t loads of menus to go through.
“We’ve had downloads from over 70 countries worldwide - and that’s before our full campaign starts on February 7 - so we don’t think we’re doing too badly.”
The app has already won the support of players, supporters clubs and bodies like The Football Supporters’ Federation.
Going forward, the plan is to develop an associated grassroots foundation to help develop new talent and to grow the non-intrusive promotional features, designed to offer fans value while generating revenues.
Eventually, Mr Barnes added, the scope of the app is set to widen.
“We have massive plans,” he said. “We’re starting with football, but we want to do other things with it. It’s a really exciting time and such a good opportunity for us. I feel it’s a real achievement and something I can be really proud of.”