The process in which Fairfax County distributes athletic field space must change. Currently, all the athletic organizations apply for a permit, but the system used to do so is either outdated or neglected. The Athletics Facilities Application Requests (AFAR) system allows the county to award permits to groups, but scheduling is often done via email for smaller organizations. Talking to various organizations has evidenced that this system is prone to double booking and the Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) is often too inundated to reply to organizations with 100 members or less. Other problems with the current AFAR system and current permit process includes:
• A complicated process to release unused field space.
• Currently organizations are required to email the county two weeks in advance if the space is not being used so that the county may re-allocate the field space. There are many fields that are reserved, but are not used.
• Requesting field space has no indication of what each line item refers to.
• For example: Arrowhead Ref#2 and Arrowhead Ref#1 gives no detail that Ref#2 is not a regulation soccer field. There are also no requirements listed when requesting certain fields, such as a requirement to be an accredited 501(c)3 non-profit with FCPS as an insured policy holder to request school field space.
• A convoluted process to verifying in-county rosters and payments.
• The AFAR system requires that leagues attach a roster either via email or a webpage and even accepts PDF. This requires tedious work from the NCS team to verify every address. There should be a standard format that is automatically checked to provide a set cost.
I am proposing that the AFAR system be replaced with something that will allow organizations to book fields independently while adhering to the set guidelines. A more modern web application and smart phone application would allow county residents to find open field spaces and larger organizations to release fields that aren’t used. This will allow smaller sport organizations to grow and increase sport and league diversities within the county. I run an ultimate frisbee league, Fairfax Ultimate, and the current system is more than a month late with verifying rosters. I hope to save other residents headaches and county official’s time and money with something more efficient. Please feel free to contact me and discuss this issue.
Doug Phung, Fairfax