An idea that began with a desire to play indoor netball has grown into something of a social sport phenomenon.

Earlier this year, faced with the dilemma of wanting to get involved in a team sport but not knowing enough like-minded people to get a team together, Phill Dromgool set up a group called Tauranga Social Sports on social media platform Meetup.

Meetup is a website and app that connects people with similar interests.

He got his indoor netball team together, but wasn't quite prepared for how quickly things snowballed. Since then he has had to call on assistance to help him cope with the demand. Up stepped Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic third year sports management student Max McLaren.


''Max has been helping organise the teams and manage teams and be the face on the ground, lessening my load,'' said Mr Dromgool, who said he felt he needed the help to cash in on the early momentum.

''I wanted to use that to build up the teams more than I otherwise would have been able to do. The app and the website have been absolutely brilliant.

''I want to expand it to more teams and keep it going, and now we are trying to get teams managing themselves and figuring out the best way to do that.''

Mr Dromgool said creating the group had been great for his own and others' fitness levels. He has had a go at most of the sports available, not letting inexperience stop him. And there are plenty of like-minded people in the group.

''It's helped me get back into sport, I've lost a stone in the last year and you can see around some of the teams, a few people are looking fitter and just having a great time. Most people are in the same boat in that either they are new to town or not in that social group or work group where there are existing teams, so it's hard to get involved in a team.''

From the idea to start the indoor netball team, the group has six netball teams, several indoor football teams, a basketball team, and an indoor touch team.

There are about 250 members in the Tauranga Social Sports group, and Mr McLaren, through his interest in sports management and promoting participation in team sports, is keen to increase that number.

''The idea resonates with almost everyone we talk to. A lot of people go to the gym but find it can be boring and prefer something a little more on the competitive side. Social sports are a lot more fun, and this app has made it a lot more accessible to the avid sports enthusiasts out there who don't have a team to play for.''

Monitoring the effectiveness of the different forms of promotion was the focus of Mr McLaren's study.

''Meetup has solved a very common problem regarding sport, fitness and social teams. We feel that this is a trend that will spread around New Zealand in time and become a new way that social apps will shape the way we exercise and socialise in the future,'' he said.

Touch rugby modules and social beach volleyball would both start in the coming weeks, so there was plenty of potential for more teams.

Look for Tauranga Social Sports.
There are plenty of other local groups including Friends Aplenty, Tauranga Under 30s (or close to it), Tauranga Musicians Meetup and Tauranga Empty Nesters Meetup.