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The rise of football scouting apps that NPL clubs could use

Talent identification and training for football via mobile apps have taken large strides in recent years, which NPL clubs can explore.

Talent identification and training for football via mobile apps have taken large strides in recent years. Major clubs are starting to come onboard and take advantage of the benefits that scouting and training through mobile apps provide.

As we delve into apps used by overseas clubs, they offer a glimpse into what National Premier League (NPL) clubs can explore.

In August, Chelsea announced Perfect Play, an app which they said “enables all footballers to experience world-class, personalised coaching for the first time, combining performance tracking technology with elite academy expertise.”

Perfect Play is used by the Chelsea FC Academy who also helped with the development of the app.

Tracking technology analyses the user’s performance while training games look to improve different skills such as dribbling, passing, shooting, speed and strength.

“Perfect Play has been created with the experience and expertise of the management and players of the Chelsea FC Academy, which is one of the elite football academies in the world,” Chelsea FC Chief Executive, Guy Laurence said on the launch of the app.

“Our vision is to share this immersive focus on technical, tactical and physical football development, not just with the select few who are fortunate enough to train at Cobram, but with every young footballer around the world with the desire to succeed in football.

“Through the unrivalled focus on technology-led innovation at the heart of all Chelsea Digital Ventures initiatives, we have been able to create a service that provides aspiring players and their parents an individualised, structured training programme that encourages regular physical activity as well as making them a better player.”

Meanwhile, Toronto FC are using similar technology to try and gain a competitive advantage.

In late August, they released TFC Widenet – an app which evaluates speed and fitness that which is then used as a talent identification tool by the club.

Chief Technology and Digital Officer at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (the company that owns Toronto FC), Humza Teherany told The Sports Network that the app was a pathway to potentially becoming a Toronto player.

“How do we find talent? How do we do it differently than everybody else? How do we get access to every kid in the country, maybe even every kid in the world, leveraging our digital capabilities,” said Teherany.

“I don’t know how you scout a year from now without having technology tools like this. I think it becomes harder. I think those that have these skills and technologies and can actually build it into the way they scout … I think it’s going to be must-do’s.”

He referenced that the sporting landscape was a “very new world” following the pandemic and the teams needed to focus on digital technologies.

“We are now looking at all things technology, innovation and digital across MLSE from a business perspective. And more and more as part of our MLSE Digital Sports Performance Labs, we’re partnering with our (teams’) front offices to understand where we can double-down on digital and innovation to continue to gain a competitive advantage in the quest for more championships for the city,” he said.

The importance and potential for this sort of technology is being realised around the globe.

On September 4 Indian football training app enJogo was launched to encourage people to play football from home during lockdown.

“Technology can revolutionize grassroots sports in India. The football training app ‘enJogo’ from Bhaichung Bhutia Football Schools will enable young footballers across India to get access to proper online coaching to train remotely, which can also help in identifying talent from the remotest parts of the country,” Indian Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijijud said.

Companies such as AiScout are also starting to create a presence, working with some of these large clubs and associations.

AiScout have partnerships with Chelsea FC, the Welsh FA and the Sri Lankan FA. Their app uses AI technology to rate players based off their skills.

Six players have undertaken English Premier League trials after being scouted through the app – one player who had never been scouted before was signed to AFC Bournemouth after using AiScout.

This technology could be used by NPL clubs to scout players whilst being COVID safe.

If restrictions prevent training in large groups, then these apps could be used instead of trials to identity potential in athletes.

The NPL or national second division could also use this as a cheaper and easier alternative to trials. Instead of flying players in from interstate, they could instead be rated through these types of technologies.

Football training apps also present an opportunity for local NPL clubs who are struggling financially. Instead of paying large amounts for a coach, Chelsea’s Perfect Play app could be used in conjunction with a less experienced coach.

These apps are also convenient and are available on the Apple and Google Play app stores – users can access the content in their own time.

Daniel Foley is a sports junior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and micro industry matters.

Deltatre: The all-rounder for leading innovations

Boasting a wide range of technologies, Deltatre has proven itself to be a reliable technology provider to football federations, leagues and clubs around the world.

Boasting a wide range of technologies, Deltatre has proven itself to be a reliable technology provider to football federations, leagues and clubs around the world.

Deltatre is changing the way fans consume and engage with their favourite sports, with specialist innovations ranging across over-the-top (OTT) streaming, websites and apps, graphics, data, officiating systems, user experience, and product design.

Speaking to Soccerscene, Craig Harvey, Deltatre’s Vice President of Asia-Pacific explains: “We guide sports organisations through change. Using data and insights, combined with over 30 years of experience in sport, we analyse, design and deliver the next level of growth through technology and services.”

With an extensive client list in football – featuring FIFA, AFC, J League and all MLS clubs, to name a few – Deltatre brings an unrivalled experience to any football organisation that is seeking to build its brand by engaging, understanding, growing and monetising its fans.

Deltatre growth in Asia-Pacific

Deltatre has experienced significant growth in recent years, and has expanded its presence around the world, with over 1000 staff across 11 countries. In 2015, Deltatre made a strategic decision to build a presence in Asia-Pacific and localise its service to adapt to the needs of the clients in the region.

Now with nearly 100 staff distributed across Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and India, Deltatre is better placed than ever to deliver; and clients such as Asian Football Confederation (AFC), J League and India Super League (ISL) are already benefitting from this strategic initiative.

Indeed, the ISL appointment of Deltatre reflected the mission to redevelop its on-screen storytelling of the fastest growing sports property in India. Deltatre developed, designed, and deployed a best-in-class graphics solution for the full season, and implemented sophisticated remote production that ensured adaptability. Such implementation came to the fore this year, considering the significant restrictions imposed by COVID-19 in India, with operations limited to strict bio-secure bubbles in Goa and Mumbai, as outlined in this case study.

Harvey touches on the success on this project: “Delivering live sport can be challenging at the best of times. In today’s world, it takes a new level of commitment, adaptability and innovation to ensure a safe and successful delivery. Delivering this seasons ISL was arguably one of our hardest deliveries, ever, but the toughest times often lead to our greatest moments.”

Leading Innovation

Beyond the world of broadcast, Deltatre is renowned for its work across data, owned & operated digital platforms and OTT streaming services; be it collecting the official data for the Bundesliga, or powering MLSSoccer.com and NFL Game Pass, as a few examples from a distinguished list of projects around the world. In addition, Deltatre provides the technology backbone to managing competitions and events for several organisations, streamlining both internal and external processes and tasks.

Harvey adds, “At our core, we are a team of technology experts with a passion to bring sport to life. Over the past 30 years we have built and refined our products and services to connect the media value chain to maximise performance and operational effectiveness for all stakeholders.”

An area where Deltatre has seen great traction in the past few years is the centralisation of digital platforms for leagues to better support the future of their clubs and members. The multi-tenant approach – using FORGE Multiply – brings unity to every member, large or small, and offers an ecosystem designed to support them engage, understand and connect with their community and fans, and ultimately grow their sport.

“A powerful example of work is highlighted in our recent announcement on becoming the web technology partner for Major League Soccer (MLS), supporting the league and its clubs transform the fan experience.” Harvey said.

Beyond Football

Deltatre’s capabilities and experience extend far beyond football, and sport. In 2018, Deltatre acquired Massive Interactive – which was founded in Australia in 1996 and now uses its office in Redfern as its Australian HQ – bolstering Deltatre’s OTT capabilities with products capable of delivering entertainment platforms for media organisations around the world.

Harvey added: “We predicted that media organisations would consolidate OTT viewing experiences across sport and entertainment, and so the acquisition of Massive Interactive has uniquely positioned Deltatre as leaders in both live and VOD content management, paired with world-class products that deliver engaging experiences at scale.”

Soccerscene takes a closer look at the variety of products and services Deltatre brings to market – all of which could well be applicable to organisations throughout Australia that are looking to augment their capabilities.

DIVA – Bring fans closer to the action.

An advanced OTT player, DIVA offers fans more than simply watching the game. If you’re watching from home, you want to experience every moment in fine detail. You get all the data you could ever want, with the ability to view from multiple angles – available on mobile, web, and Android TV.

AXIS – Drive user engagement.

User experience (UX) is at the heart of AXIS, giving editorial teams the chance to tailor their content to suit each sports fan. AXIS uses an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface that can control all aspects of an organisation’s OTT service to deliver increased engagement, such as design, navigation, promotions, page layout, and content.

Mtribes – Give your users a more personalized experience.

This software as a service (SaaS) platform has been created for real-time insights on user experience. To be successful in digital, data is the key indicator. To understand users, there needs to be the right tools in place to see how the audience is interacting with a service. Mtribes plugs into an existing sports technology stack to be assessed by operators. With the power of data, they can make changes to a service’s features, design, and content depending on a user’s behaviour traits.

FORGE – Engage your fans through storytelling.

A sports-oriented audience is hungry for content and wants that content all in one place. FORGE is the world’s first sport-focused publishing platform that meets the needs of all audiences on a global scale. It offers flexibility for sports operators to tell their unforgettable stories through this modern-day solution. FORGE has been built from the ground up to create a content platform that’s simple to use and lets editorial teams produce content as they like. It also lets teams get a better idea on how much time they engage with their fans and to decide on the appropriate channels.

To see all that Deltatre has to offer, you can find it here.

Dig Inclusion makes digital access available for everyone 

For stadiums around the world, infrastructure has been created to cater for people with disabilities, however access to club websites and apps cannot be overlooked. 

In the past, stadiums had been designed so people with disability can still access the venues. As we know with COVID outbreaks, attention has now shifted towards how we get these people into the grounds by using apps and in particular to scan a QR code for contact tracing. 

As we have seen in 2021, the QR system has become a mandatory tool, while at the same time we have seen the need to go with virtual tickets, rather than the printed out copies we had always been accustomed to. 

For clubs and stadiums, they want to ensure that fan experience is at the optimal level, so that means they have to assess the accessibility for disabled people and ways for them to have entry to venues without an enormous amount of hassle. 

This is where Dig Inclusion can help. They are a digital accessibility service who ensures that football club websites and apps are equally available for everyone. 

For clubs, they should be asking themselves whether disabled fans have the same opportunity to buy tickets online as everybody else, while the other consideration should be if news feeds, match statistics, websites and apps are as user friendly as they need to be. 

For digital accessibility, Dig Inclusion takes into account people who are colour blind, dyslexic or have cognitive impairments (including people living with dementia). Through a club’s website or app design process – from the use of font, to language, to colour contrast – are all highly important so nobody feels overwhelmed when accessing a club’s resource. 

For example, if a disabled fan wants to buy some club merchandise, then they will have the same opportunity to browse and make that purchase just like any other person would, with tailored options available to assist anyone who needs it. 

When teams partner with Dig Inclusion, they are there for every step of the way, from accessible testing, research and strategy, to accessible development and content creation, and finally a check on websites, mobile apps, PDF documents and ebooks among some of the benefits. 

All of Dig Inclusion’s services are designed to help clubs keep pace in a rapidly changing digital age: 

Accessible design review: To highlight visual aspects of a design that need to be checked for accessibility, such as colour contrast and positioning. This looks at common accessibility pitfalls and turns this into what would be the ultimate experience for all customers. 

Accessibility help desk: Advice and support from someone who understands the company and what they do, offering fast response times and specialist knowledge for any stucks in the digital accessibility process. 

Mobile accessibility: Helping to get the most out of tablet and smartphone users, with those devices more often used than desktop or laptop. This is very important for disabled or elderly fans who would like to use mobile technology. 

Web accessibility: Advising organisations about the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in an easy-to-understand manner, as design agencies and web developers may find it difficult to grasp or keep pace with updates as they become available. 

Disabled user testing: It’s not only digital content meeting accessibility guidelines that is important, but also making sure that the experience of a disabled person using a product is a good one. 

PDF accessibility: Accessibility guidelines are not just designed for webpages, but anything that a customer downloads is also included. Dig Inclusion can produce PDF documents that go alongside WCAG with equal access as a typical website. 

Video accessibility: When businesses make advertising material, they can be supported with transcripts, captions, subtitles, or audio descriptions that they probably would have not used before on their own. 

Ebook accessibility: Tablets have been a valuable way for people to virtually read books and other publications. An accessible ebook gives all readers instant access to fit their needs, regardless of print disability. 

Dig Inclusion provides ways for clubs to navigate the challenges associated with building an app or website for equal opportunities. To learn more on Dig Inclusion, you can find it here. 

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