Australian photographs secured for the future

There’s nothing better than looking through the archives.

Seeing your favourite clubs and old-time players in action, plus reliving some memorable moments, should be cherished.

In a move to protect and secure the history of Australian soccer, Football NSW and Football Victoria have united with leaders in the game and passionate fans to ensure some old photographs are brought here to Australia.

The huge collection of photographs related to Australian soccer has been able to be retrieved thanks to the two member federations and seven leading individuals who have all contributed money to the cause.

There has been a deposit paid for more than 19,000 soccer photographs which was previously in Fairfax Media’s photographic collection.

Under Fairfax’s control, the Australian photographs were among two million of them which were sold by the media organisation to US interests in 2012.

Fairfax currently own the digitised collection of photographs, but the originals which represent Australian soccer history from the 1920s to the 1990s, are held in the United States.

With the help of several key Australian personnel, they’re aiming to bring these valuable photographs back home.

Along with Football NSW and Victoria Federations, the following have each added their contribution to a deposit for the photograph collection – FOX Sports commentator and journalist Simon Hill, Chairman and deputy Chairman of new A-League expansion side Macarthur FC, Rabieh Krayem and Gino Marra.

Adding to these key figures are fans Tom Kalas from Melbourne, Chris Kunz of Bowral, Bonita Mersiades of Sydney and Christo Patsan of Newcastle.

With their assistance, they are doing their bit to make sure Australian soccer’s history and heritage are preserved for future generations.

Who doesn’t love going back to old times? This is the exact thing that can help connect more people to the game of soccer and reminisce on the key moments that matter in our history.

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Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

Graduates congratulated after completing FIFA Diploma in Club Management program

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has congratulated the 2024 graduates of the FIFA Diploma in Club Management course at FIFA headquarters, which include former Socceroo Tim Cahill and former Manchester City player Fernandinho.

Since its launch in 2021, the FIFA Diploma in Club Management has become a networking platform for senior club executives to share knowledge about the industry insights essential for successful football club management. The 18-month course is comprised of six-course models, each covering important topics and aspects of club management.

The topics which are covered in this course are leadership and management, sporting strategy and youth academies, marketing and communication, club operations and stadium management, governance and legal matters and finance.

Infantino spoke to the attendees of the graduation ceremony in Zurich, Switzerland:

“The course’s aim was to encourage knowledge and best practice exchange to be able to ensure football’s continued growth and health worldwide,” he said in a statement.

“You understand that club football is crucial for the development and the survival of football in all countries of the world.

“That is what we have to foster and what we have to work on, and to do this, you have to be well-equipped and well-prepared, and this is our aim at FIFA: to give you this preparation, to give you this equipment, to open the doors of FIFA here in Zurich and everywhere in the world.

“Our doors are open for you to come and exchange with us, and also to exchange between yourselves.”

The graduates of the second edition of the FIFA Diploma in Club Management started back in September 2022 in New York where they attended lectures given by the likes of FIFA Chief of Global Football Development Arsène Wenger and FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Berman and their final project of the course was a strategy plan which was presented before the graduation.

The third edition of the program began in May 2024 and is headed by FIFA Director of Professional Football Ornella Desirée Bellia. Some of the participants who are involved include former Juventus player Giorgio Chiellini and Como 1907 coach Cesc Fàbregas alongside club owners, CEO’s and sporting directors.

Sevilla FC: Transforming player scouting with IBM’s generative AI

In 2021, Sevilla FC, a premier team from Andalusia, Spain, faced an overwhelming amount of paperwork.

With a top-tier scouting team of 20 to 25 scouts, each player could generate up to 40 scout reports, necessitating 200 to 300 hours of review. Altogether, Sevilla FC had to manage over 200,000 reports on potential players, a task that demanded an enormous amount of time.

Earlier in the year, Sevilla’s fortunes started to change for the better in terms of time management.

They had introduced a collaboration with the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) having confirmed Scout Advisor, a cutting-edge AI tool that will equip the club’s scouting team with extensive data for identifying and evaluating potential player signings.

Developed using IBM’s watsonx, which is an AI and data platform for businesses, the club introduced the Scout Advisor concept to integrate it into its existing suite of in-house data-generative tools.

IBM is a top provider of global hybrid cloud, AI solutions, and consulting services. They assist clients in over 175 countries in leveraging data insights, optimising business processes, reducing costs, and gaining a competitive advantage in their industries.

Over 4,000 government and corporate entities in vital sectors like financial services, telecommunications, and healthcare depend on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift for rapid, efficient, and secure digital transformations.

IBM’s ground-breaking advancements in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions, and consulting provides their clients with open and flexible options.

Sevilla FC’s data department collaborated with the IBM Client Engineering Team to develop Scout Advisor, utilising watsonx’s natural language processing (NLP) and foundation models to search and analyse extensive information in the club’s databases for evaluating potential recruits. This encompasses quantitative data such as height, weight, speed, goals scored, and minutes played, as well as qualitative data such as a player’s attitude and alignment with the team philosophy from over 200,000 scouting reports.

During the period in 2021, Sevilla FC could quickly access and utilise quantitative player data within seconds, but retrieving qualitative information from the database was significantly slower in contrast.

The solution’s natural language processing capabilities allow the club to utilise multiple large language models (LLMs) to enhance the accuracy and efficiency of player identification. By interpreting scouts’ descriptions of key player characteristics, Scout Advisor creates a curated lists of candidates matching the desired traits and summarises comprehensive reports for each player. Additionally, Scout Advisor connects each player to the existing database to provide detailed quantitative performance data.

Player recruitment has traditionally relied on a mix of subjective human observation and data analysis. However, these methods are limited by the time they require and the few factors they consider. IBM’s Scout Advisor now gives the club a competitive edge by merging these existing indicators with generative AI, bridging the gap between data-driven scouting and hard to measure human behaviours.

This advancement will enhance Sevilla’s talent identification and support the decision-making processes.

The club’s scouting team is well-known for its data-driven approach to recruiting emerging talent. Furthermore, the club is at the forefront of developing innovative methods to use detailed information, allowing for a more holistic evaluation of every player they scout.

Watsonx processes this data and presents it in understandable terms, identifying potential signings using key qualitative indicators and expert scouting insights.

The club intends to use Scout Advisor during the summer in the recruiting season and expects to see results by September, with feedback having been positive so far.

With the time saved, scouts can now focus on human-centric tasks such as engaging with recruits, observing games, and making data-supported decisions.

One thing is certain is that the ability to make better-informed decisions about who to play, when to play them, and why has fundamentally transformed the recruitment process at Sevilla FC. This refined approach has not only enhanced the club’s ability to identify and secure top talent but has also provided a strategic edge in their overall team management and performance planning.

Recently, Melbourne Knights FC had agreed a new collaboration with leading football management software company, ProTrainUp. It would benefit local clubs, in terms of time management, to follow suit and by doing this they can focus their attention elsewhere.

Investing in AI is not a walk in the park as it does require large amount of funds, however A-League sides in both the men’s and women’s should also be taking an approach into implementing technology whether it’s for player scouting or the way footballers train, for a task that demands a vast amount of time that could easily be executed by AI eases the workload on team management and club operations.

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