How digital storytelling and gaming can lift the profile of a football competition

Spain’s La Liga competition have realised the power of digital storytelling and gaming, implementing strategies successfully to engage fans across the world.

Alfredo Bermejo, the director of digital strategy at La Liga, recently stated that building a connection with supporters is a priority, through the use of a variety of social media channels: “We need to know what the fans like, which platforms they engage with and what kind of content they like.

“Social media provides the possibility to go global and to have a scaled approach to the fans,” he said at the Social Football Summit conference.

Social media engagement data provides evidence that relevant stories of an international player at a modest club in the league, will have a bigger impact than posts about a superstar at Real Madrid or Barcelona.

“I think a common goal for all of us is to go beyond the big names and the big clubs and to try to tell stories and make other clubs and players become known by the audience,” Bermejo explained.

“We try to identify which stories are relevant within markets. Sometimes players from smaller teams have a bigger reach than the big stars because they belong to a certain territory where they are number one.”

As an example, Chinese international Wu Lei signed for Espanyol in January of 2019 with the club becoming the most-watched team on Chinese TV.  La Liga’s follower count on social media network Weibo also soared by 82% in the second half of the 2018/19 season, due to Lei’s arrival.

Similarly, in the Japanese market, Eibar have utilised the signing of Takashi Inui in 2015 to tell appropriate stories about the player and continue to build the club’s profile in the country.

The competition’s social media metrics reach their highest during the matches of each round, therefore, the use of gaming to keep fans entertained for the whole week is vitally important.

Bermejo explained: “It’s an area where data gives us an advantage. With the traffic to our official website, we have big spikes during the weekend and then, during the week, we have lower valleys. What we try to do is to generate content abroad that helps us to minimise that.”

The league’s fantasy football gaming service, La Liga Fantasy Marca, has been a huge success.

“One of our biggest investments has been in our fantasy football game,” Bermejo stated. “When we created it, we had a belief that it would help boost consumption of more matches than just the traditional Real Madrid or FC Barcelona matches.”

“When you create a team, you have to select players from different teams so the biggest match for you during a weekend may not be one involving the biggest teams,” he continued. “It may be the match where you have the most players from your fantasy line-up.”

Fans can choose which team is their favourite before selecting a squad in the fantasy game, with the data portraying a broad spread of interest and engagement with different clubs in the league.

This is significant for La Liga and for its broadcasters, as information like this is shared between both parties in the best interests of strengthening their relationship.

“In the past, leagues used to sell the rights to broadcasters and then do nothing more,” he concluded. “Now, the model has completely changed. We’re moving from B2B to B2C business, where the relationship with the client and with the fans is getting more and more important.”

Other recent examples of La Liga connecting with the gaming world include Sevilla’s commercial agreement with Fortnite, where their kit will feature in the game along with more than 20 other football teams across the world.

As of May 2020, Fortnite has amassed over 350 million players globally, with Sevilla and La Liga tapping into the potential of the gaming giant through this beneficial partnership.

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Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

Orreco.AI: Transforming the way athletes recover and perform

Orreco.AI is a new AI technology tool that aims to help advance athlete training, athlete performance and management of injuries in sport.

This innovation in data collecting technology has one goal – to give athletes the power to control and better their performance using a range of data points never seen before in the industry.

Led by CEO and Sports Scientist Dr Brian Moore, Orreco has had a plan since 2010 to innovate sport by leveraging technology to better athletes’ performance and management.

Since its inception, Orreco has lead research findings and released new, updated technologies to fine tune the accuracy of the data they show to athletes.

They released the app ‘@thlete’, which is a data and content platform for athletes that synthesises a range of data to help athletes better their sleep, wellness, preparation and recovery.

Orreco’s Recovery Lab is the precursor to Orreco.AI, with it being a similar concept that integrates data and metrics to improve wellbeing.

Orreco also released a pioneering free app called FitrWoman which is a leader in supporting women athletes during their menstrual cycle by providing education, training and nutritional support.

Orreco is fast tracking the Orreco.AI technology that is the first of its kind. The technology gives teams player pages with basic statistics such as distance covered, top speed and performance stats but also is providing coaches with an in-depth analysis on their fitness by using blood biomarkers to accurately pick up the data.

Minute-by-minute post-game injury scores and injury signals that give coaches a head start on protecting and managing their players.

Orreco.AI aims to also improve efficiency for athlete performance coaches through voice and text prompt interactions.

Orreco have harnessed three pivotal waves of AI – advancements in computing, cloud storage, and generative AI.

Their objective is to provide differentiated, actionable data that can help athletes transform their game.

Orreco’s AI suite is at the forefront, complete high performance platform converting vast amounts of data into actionable insights. Here’s how:

AI Charting:

AI charting allows direct interaction with your data through intuitive voice commands. For example, you might ask, “Please show me Peter Brand’s inflammation levels as a line graph.” Instantly, crucial insights are displayed, enabling faster, more informed decisions to optimise athlete performance.

AI Action Models:

Our AI Action Models can provide comprehensive overviews of any dataset with simple voice commands. For instance, “Show me athletes of concern and why,”  immediate evidence based answers, securely delivered as your data never leaves the platform. This functionality ensures proactive management of player health and performance.

TRAIN:

The TRAIN module predicts training loads based on historical GPS data, creating sessions tailored to specific criteria — sets, reps, pitch size, and duration. Adjustments can be made in real-time, offering dynamic feedback. This efficiency not only saves time but also enhances training strategies.

AI Injury Risk Modelling:

Motion Signal delivers post-game injury risk scores by identifying deviations from normal movement patterns. This advanced warning system helps prevent injuries such as hamstring strains. As in-game data becomes available, real-time injury risk scoring will further enhance preventive measures.

Orreco’s mission with this particular technology is to empower teams and players to reach its peak performance, maintain health and extend careers.

There has never been a higher demand for athletes than in the current sports landscape. More games being played, more minutes on the pitch, more travel, and an increase in high intensity training has led to the increase of a risk of injury, shortened careers and poorer performances on gameday.

This AI technology innovation highlights a shift in how professional sporting clubs and athletes are viewing the current situation and willing to do what they can to mitigate the potential soft-tissue injuries that arise.

Lumosa: Illuminating the world game through LED lighting

Lumosa are a British based technology company that provide comprehensive LED lighting to a vast variety of sporting codes on a global scale.

Specialising in sport stadium, field and ground lighting, the company prides itself upon providing a high quality series of products which are sustainable and durable.

Versatile within their line of business, they have built quite the portfolio across a vast number of sporting codes.

They have covered but not limited to golf, tennis, field hockey and football with the latter a primary focus of the business.

The objective of the company is to provide optimal visibility to sporting entities at an affordable level without the compromise of quality or the effectiveness of the products on offer.

Fundamentally the company are strict upon their sustainability mission. The products on offer, notwithstanding their size, use the lowest amount of CO2 emissions in comparison to rival lighting companies, giving Lumosa a competitive advantage within their niche field.

Footballers across all levels of the sport, from grassroots to seniors are training primarily under the floodlights of the night sky.

Although not a factor controllable by footballers themselves, they are at the forefront of how lighting can impact their performance.

Exceptional football lighting upon a pitch has been proven to give players an advantage. Movement is identified better by participants, given colours have become stronger all courtesy of high quality lights.

It allows them to make accurate passes, execute team movements, execute tactics, and anticipate movements of the opposition.

Furthermore, it enables coaches to execute training sessions thoroughly. The training of tactics, formations and team plays can all be adequately taught to players under the flood lights.

In addition, the improved visibility assists players in avoiding collisions with each other or with the ball in dispute throughout a match situation, the risk of injuries or collisions are ultimately lowered.

Also clear visibility can allow players to make better decisions regarding shooting, passing, tackling, defending positioning and attacking awareness, all leading to a more strategic, effective and decisive gameplay.

Lumosa’s optimal LED lighting products are designed upon the latest innovation within lighting. With LED lighting, it becomes the main choice in comparison to halogen and florescent choices due to its energy saving nature.

30% of energy consumption is saved within Lumosa’s products, understanding the game as a youth player and having had relatives on club boards, it is evident that lighting comes at a price.

A price in which junior clubs may not be able to afford.

There have been many instances where the lights at training go out, unreliable, yet expensive in operation costs due to their power consumption.

With adequate and weatherproof lighting, clubs are able to schedule matches and training sessions during night time sessions, this can lead to the expansion and development of their playing cohort.

Lumosa’s lighting products may be the way forward for the effective approach towards sustainable lighting for grassroots football clubs.

Although a subtle change, the possibilities of what more adequate lighting can provide to a club are endless.

The football industry in particular can benefit immensely from the implementation of Lumosa lighting around stadium and training ground facilities.

Improved spectator experience, combined with the improvement of player performance and youth development are all factors in which are hard to ignore.

With technology becoming more advanced on a broader scale, the details are now being refined in order to achieve the highest capacity possible out of every facet involved throughout the sport.

Although lighting may not be at the forefront of priorities required for the improvement of a football club’s development and operations, it is still a factor for which must be considered upon.

Looking ahead, Australian football clubs and stadiums who are in need of a sustainable yet durable lighting solution should look to Lumosa to implement the necessary changes provided by the lighting firm.

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