Red Bulls Academy have started to utilize a rideshare company to help get players, to and from training.
The academy has started to use RideAlong, which enables a safe alternative to get to and from training sessions, for young players.
“RideAlong is exactly what our academy needs. We ask families for so much of their time and cannot solely rely on them to drive their children to daily training,” Senior Manager of Academy Business Operations Ryan Brooks said.
A new initiative has been for the older academy teams to start training in the afternoon starting with the U-19’s back in January.
“Our U-19 team began training in the afternoon to professionalize the age group with additional individual training, strength and conditioning, video and meals. Transportation is a challenge as we add our U-17’s to that schedule during the day in the fall. Without RideAlong, it’s not feasible for the players to get to training with families who work during the day,” said Brooks.
This agreement marks the first type of agreement between a ride-sharing company and an MLS academy, which means a lot to Red Bulls Academy.
“As we develop the relationship, expansion to all of the age groups may be in the future,” he said. “We’ll start small and continue to add.”
The early stages of this partnership have been involved with getting academy players to and from New York Red Bulls II training.
“It’s gone very smoothly with parents, players, driver and academy on a Teamworks group chat. Everyone is in the loop as the driver communicates with the group when players are picked up and dropped off,” Brooks said. “When the academy resumes, we’ll have eight routes for our U17 and U19 players encompassing New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.”
With the ongoing pandemic, Red Bulls Academy and RideAlong have set protocols to be followed in order to keep drivers and passengers safe. Drivers are required to wear a face mask at all times, provide hand sanitizer for both passenger and their usage, disinfect their cars between each ride paying attention to high-touch areas, confirm with RideAlong daily that they are asymptomatic, and they have plexiglass dividers to install in their vehicles. Passengers must also wear a mask at all times, use hand sanitizer provided by the driver, and stay at home if they are symptomatic.
RideAlong has put in place new procedures to keep the safety of their drivers and passengers as their top priority. They will be placing a smaller number of children in vehicles to give them adequate distancing space, making more drivers available in each region they serve, and making sure their cleaning procedures are permanent and followed.
Providing this option to players helps the families with any transportation problems and will provide a key role in giving players the chance to keep developing their game.
“It shows the commitment Red Bull has toward the academy. It’s no secret that we want the best players in the Tri-State area and transportation can be a barrier for families,” Brooks said. “We develop programs like RideAlong to retain and attract top players.”