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Heidelberg United FC implements interactive training system, SmartGoals

While physical performance has always been gauged using GPS monitoring, time trials and strength testing, technical attributes have traditionally been challenging to tangibly measure.

It was in his search to bridge this gap that Chris Theodorou, Football Program Manager at Heidelberg United FC discovered SmartGoals.

“It is manufactured by a Dutch company. I first came across it online where I saw the Ajax first team using it during training. It was awesome, I was totally blown away and thought we have to try and get this equipment to Australia.” Theodorou said.

The interactive training system uses a set of targets which are imbued with light signals. Once a player physically passes the goal, or kicks a ball through the goal, another SmartGoal lights up, making it the new target.

This makes the system extremely useful for physical training such as sprint tests and agility tests, but also for driving technical improvement through drills that focus on passing, shooting, or dribbling.

“It’s an interactive system that works with light signals. A smart goal lights up and becomes a target. Whether you want to run through them, shoot the ball through them or something else you do that and once that’s complete the next smart goal lights up.”

Having targets that dynamically change forces players to adjust in a split second, replicating the intensity they experience during an in-game situation.

“Basically, it trains awareness, reaction time, team play and technical skills. The target changes instantly every time a successful SmartGoal has been executed,” Theodorou said.

“It’s challenging and fun for players at all levels. Whether you are a beginner or professional you can use it, there are exercises for people of all abilities and even for people playing with disabilities. The accessibility SmartGoals provides is a huge benefit.”

All of the data gathered is recorded for coaches and players, making it enormously beneficial for identifying development opportunities as well as making it more mentally engaging for players.

“Data collection is so important in sport these days. You can keep track of how fast an individual is, how many goals they’ve scored, and determine their accuracy. The beauty of SmartGoals is that you can now measure their technical ability and watch them grow,” Theodorou said.

The App which comes with SmartGoals also includes a database that contains more than 100 filmed exercises. While originally built for football, the goals have expanded to other sports including hockey and athletics.

The database means coaches can keep training fresh by tailoring their training program to their needs. The filmed videos further assist this, by providing an easy guide on how to setup the exercise and how the player should look when executing the drill.

“The database has exercises that allow you to train individuals, or the whole team. There’s technique training, positional training, possession and more,” Theodorou said.

“They were purposely built for football and since we started implementing them at training, the feedback we have received has been absolutely fabulous.”

With SmartGoals proving a success at Heidelberg United FC, Theodorou believes it is important for more Australian football clubs to invest in burgeoning technology.

In additional to SmartGoals, he has implemented SoccerPLAY into Heidelberg FC’s football program and is a strong advocate of keeping up to date with international trends.

“Clubs must view technology like SmartGoals as an investment, not an expense,” he said.

“Australian football has been a little behind on trends and reluctant to invest. The trends are slowly changing though, we have started tapping into the types of things the leading countries have been using over the last three or four years,” he said.

For more information on SmartGoals, visit HERE.

Omnigon’s Corebine software brings fan engagement benefits

Corebine is a fan engagement platform that focuses on capturing and engaging audiences with mobile technology.

Corebine is a fan engagement platform that focuses on capturing and engaging audiences with mobile technology.

Omnigon has used Corebine for content delivery to keep up with the technological advancements we see rapidly. For customers, they are getting increasingly more tech savvy and digital consumption habits are changing with most content available on mobile devices. 

Corebine has been part of Omnigon for a few years now, which as a content management and fan engagement platform, is specifically tailored to meet the demands of sport’s growing mobile-first audience.  

As customer needs lend more to the digital side, Corebine is the direct response to any trends we still see today. 

“The desktop is not being used as much; it’s less than a majority of the time,” vice-president of products at Omnigon, Nick Arcuri said. 

“People are, especially in sport, getting their news, information and following their teams on their mobile devices. 

“We wanted to make sure we were optimising and creating an experience for the way most people are going to engage these days.” 

The development of Corebine centured around addressing the gap that exists in traditional content publishing platforms. They were not originally designed for fan engagement purposes or mobile devices. 

Corebine was built specifically with fan engagement in mind, including several features that help brands and rightholders to engage and reach their fans in a meaningful way. 

Corebine’s three ProSuite products, BracketProPollPro and MVP Vote, looks to deliver unique, compelling and customisable experiences. 

“We try to engage fans and make them interact with the content and make them feel like a part of all the experiences,” Arcuri said. 

Omnigon has worked with the German Football Association on the DFB Pokal app, developing a ‘Man of the Match’ polling product that gave fans the opportunity to vote for their favourite player in real time. 

“We put together the Man of the Match vote for every single match of the DFB Pokal,” Arcuri said. 

“Voting opened in the 60th minute of each of the 63 matches – all sponsored by Volkswagen. 

“As soon as the final whistle went, they had the Man of the Match decided via our engagement platform. The winner was eventually presented with the trophy by Volkswagen on the pitch.” 

It was a highly successful implementation, as 5,000 to 10,000 votes were generated per match in a 30-minute period. It was essential to manage the influx of activity, so Omnigon built a backend voting engine that could withstand the huge voting numbers. 

“We can pull in 100,000 to 500,000 votes in a single 10 second period – Corebine is a 100% scalable solution,” Arcuri said. 

“It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the final of the World Cup where millions around the world are watching, down to a match in the Championship where far fewer, but no less engaged people are watching. 

“We’ve built this system to scale at a very high level, taking into account activity peaks, whether by call to action in a broadcast or during a marquee event.” 

Organisations can then look to take value from these interactions where data capture allows clubs, brands and sponsors to get a better gauge on who is interacting through the platform. 

Omnigon can then bridge that gap on how brands can gain more by knowing who interacts with their content, while there can also be more to learn about fan engagement activity where editorial decisions can be made about types of marketing. 

“You’re figuring out where your fans’ allegiances lie and you can start personalising the experience so they get value as well as the brand, club and sponsors for providing that information,” Arcuri said. 

Clubs and associations are putting considerable investment to data capture technology and analysis capability. Corebine offers a simple Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to both store data and integrate with another CRM platform. 

Corebine is also a point of difference with its speed to market. They are able to launch sites in 2-3 months compared to other projects that may take more than six months. Sports clubs can get a major head start with the shorter timeframes. 

“The longer it takes to develop something, the more costly it is and the less time you have to react to changes in the marketplace,” Arcuri said. 

“If you want to launch a site in two months because the new season is right around the corner and you don’t want to launch mid-season, speed to market is important. 

“The quicker you can develop something, the less it costs and saving money is important from any business perspective.” 

You can find out more about Corebine’s products and fan engagement features here. 

Robert Cavallucci proud of competition reforms, outlines FQ’s plans for 2021

Despite a challenging 2020 for football across the country, a small silver lining to emerge on the extremely dark cloud that COVID-19 cast was the opportunity for administrators to implement off-field reform.

In an exclusive interview with Soccerscene, Football Queensland CEO Robert Cavallucci met to discuss the organisation’s strong end to the year and his aspirations for 2021.

“As disrupted as last year was due to COVID-19, it gave us an opportunity to push hard on news. We implemented a lot of competition and league reforms, and introduced new products across the board,” Cavallucci said.

“We had so many positive things coming out and projects being delivered along with the supplementary work around infrastructure, facilities, and accessibility. It’s hard not to suggest that the year was incredible for Football Queensland and we are really optimistic about building on that.”

Among the major initiatives set to commence in 2021 and expand further in 2022, is Football Queensland’s strategic plan to create a connected competition model.

Announced in October 2020, the plan aims to create one linked football pyramid where a promotion/relegation system exists from the National Premier League (NPL) all the way through to community level.

“How the model links the more advanced end of the competitive environment with the community end is a huge step for football in Queensland. We did the heavy lifting on connecting the leagues through 2020 and it’s one of the most exciting highlights for me personally,” Cavallucci said.

How FQ is transitioning to a linked football pyramid.

 

“Through promotion and relegation into and out of FQPL 2, clubs across Brisbane, the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast, and South West Queensland will have the opportunity, from 2022, to compete for promotion into the new third tier and beyond.”

“It provides the mechanism for aspirational clubs, players, and coaches have a clear path from where they are to where they want to go. That has always been limited by the competitive structure in the past.”

Included in the reform is the replacement of the Under-20 age group with a new Under-23 age group across NPL, FQPL 1 and FQPL 2.

The change is designed to generate the opportunity for more competitive match minutes for young footballers, an issue which has plagued Australian football in the past.

In addition to sweeping structural changes set to take place, Football Queensland has made positive advancement to women’s football, something Cavallucci is extremely keen to build on.

The Kappa Women’s Super Cup was announced in November 2020 and is set to commence in early 2021. The knockout style tournament will follow a similar structure to the widely lauded FFA Cup.

“Another key step was to address the failures of the past. Women traditionally haven’t had the same opportunities as men when it comes to football,” he added.

“We have the Women’s Super Cup commencing this year and it will provide female teams across the state to engage in a knockout-style tournament, similar to what the men have had. There’s no better time to introduce the tournament than with the FIFA Women’s World Cup coming up and with 2021 marking the 100-year anniversary of the earliest recorded public women’s football match in Queensland.”

“They are probably the two most exciting steps for me. Connecting the football pyramid and the work we have been doing in the women’s space.”

FQ sees enormous potential in Futsal.

Football Queensland’s strategic plan to promote accessibility and inclusion will also encompass Futsal. The federation is aiming to grow the five-a-side game through its 2020-2022 Futsal Strategy, which can be found HERE.

The push to promote Futsal will begin with the F-League, a new conference style futsal competition for that will kick off in March. In a similar style to the competition reforms, the change will aim to take the sport to a new level by connecting Futsal competitions around the state and providing a new elite Futsal competition for men and women.

“We’ve always managed our state’s Futsal rather than outsourcing it, we are embracing Futsal as its own game and it deserves to be treated as such. People don’t realise the participation and growth opportunity for Futsal,” Cavallucci said.

“It’s not just a game for outdoor players to enjoy in the off-season. There are Futsal-only players and now we have the framework in place to strategically grow the sport. We want to promote Futsal coaching courses, refereeing courses and other similar initiatives because Futsal is different and nuanced.”

With improvements to accessibility, infrastructure, competition format, and women’s football already in motion, Cavallucci added that there is still plenty more to come from Football Queensland for 2021.

“Hopefully, COVID-19 will be out the door now for good and we can have a fairly stable year in 2021. We focused heavily on competitions last year and this year we can focus more on the back-end of the game.”

ChyronHego: Delivering sport performance technology worldwide

ChyronHego is renowned as a worldwide leader for sport performance technology, working with professional teams, leagues, coaches and stadia.

ChyronHego is renowned as a global leader for sport performance technology, working with professional teams, leagues, coaches and stadia worldwide. 

Their massive client list features some of the biggest names in football, including league-wide deals with the Premier League, and the top two divisions of German Bundesliga.  

ChyronHego have proven themselves to be the number one choice as a tracking provider for technological advancement. They’ve been collaborating with both the UEFA Champions League and Europa League, as well as being the preferred supplier for the recent 2018 FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships. 

All this major success is largely due to ChyronHego’s award winning solution, TRACAB Optical Tracking. This data capturing offers quality, accurate and reliable data. The essence of this system is to determine the positions of every player on the pitch, along with referees and even the ball. The data will then be outputted live, giving real-time X, Y and Z positional coordinates.  

TRACAB data has been a go-to source for clubs, federations and broadcasters across the world who are looking at ways to access new detailed metrics related to players and teams. The open streamed format of the data is key to making it a real success and offers a more detailed interpretation for finding out what contributes to elite performance in professional football. 

With key information on hand, it allows club sport scientists, conditioning staff and performance analysts to make more informed decisions on the following: 

  • Player recovery protocols and training/match loads. 
  • Benchmark against previous performances. 
  • Benchmark against fellow league performers. 
  • Benchmark against league averages. 
  • Positional awareness evaluation. 
  • Tactical team assessment. 
  • Player pressure values. 
  • Physical metrics in and out of possession. 
  • Interrogate data in ways that suit clients’ needs. 

In 2019, ChyronHego introduced TRACAB Gen5, further enhancing the quality of data collection. Significant improvements were made in tracking quality and accuracy, driven by completely redesigned algorithms, a richer array of camera angles, and powerful new AI features for player, number, and colour recognition. 

“TRACAB has always been the most accurate sports tracking system in the world, but with TRACAB Gen5 we’ve made it exponentially better,” president of sports at ChyronHego, Rickard Öhrn said 

“We’ve overhauled and improved our AI-based image detection tracking algorithms from the ground up to ensure maximum accuracy and the lowest latency. 

“We’re combining these advanced algorithms with multiple high-resolution camera angles, which means we can deliver the highest quality data feed on the market ­— in real-time — and provide an even greater value for leagues, federations and teams, betting companies, broadcasters, and OTT rights holders producing virtual graphics and enhancements for better fan engagement.” 

TRACAB Gen5 has a distributed camera architecture where cameras can be deployed on both sides of the field and behind each goal to capture action from four different angles.  

The flexibility that is offered from the system of multiple camera views allows Gen5 to track every object on the field at a much higher resolution. By stitching and utilising these camera views within TRACAB’s industry-leading computer vision algorithms, Gen5 is able to deliver the highest accuracy of ball and player tracking data in the global sports market.  

The accuracy of player identities is increased through TRACAB Gen5’s AI capabilities, that enables the system to recognise and distinguish player numbers and jersey colours from any angle. Where preferred by clients, this capability also allows for the removal of operators from on-site operations. 

Coach Paint plays a massive part in displaying the data that comes from TRACAB. It supports teams, coaches, pundits, and producers in creating world-class video assets using live, pre and post-game footage. You would see it in sports broadcasts such as Monday Night Football from the UK. 

The use of Coach Paint has revolutionised the way clubs can present video to players. Coach Paint clients have included Premier League’s Chelsea and Arsenal, Serie A’s Juventus and a variety of clubs in England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Turkey, Israel, Qatar, America, Brazil, Argentina and Thailand, to showcase the worldwide reach.  

Coach Paint is also highly adaptable, having been adopted in Rugby Union, Rugby League, NHL, NFL and MLB. 

The graphics presented by Coach Paint will give insights to coaching staff and managers who can then communicate it with players, whether it be live or pre-recorded. This is essential for any coaches looking to implement game plans and develop a players’ positional awareness.

For professional sport clubs, having access to this information on a regular basis is vital for the training ground or on game day. 

To see more on ChyronHego including their latest news and innovations, you can find it here. 

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