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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.

Manchester City teams up with Qualtrics

Manchester City Qualtrics

English Premier League side Manchester City have announced a new partnership with Qualtrics which will see the leader and creator of the Experience Management (XM) category become the Club’s Official Experience Management Software Partner.

Qualtrics empowers organisations to listen to customer and employee feedback, understand and analyse what they hear, then take action to improve experiences and design new ones, all in real time.

Manchester City and Qualtrics’ new partnership aligns with the club’s ongoing commitment to provide the best possible matchday experience for fans and will allow the club to use industry-leading experience management software to listen to fans’ feedback following each fixture.

From overall matchday experience – to catering, facilities, retail and more – Qualtrics can provide valuable insight and real-time data from fans to help the club shape their future strategic planning and decisions.

The new partnership is also expected to include further activations across wider areas of the organisation in coming months, using Qualtrics’ experience management software to listen to fan feedback and enhance the digital experience for Cityzens across the globe.

Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships Sales at City Football Group, Stephan Cieplik:

“As a club, we are continually working to improve our matchday offering for fans both in-stadium and across our digital platforms for those following across the globe,” he said.

“Through this new partnership with Qualtrics, we will be able to use industry-leading software to gather valuable feedback and insight from those at the heart of our club to help shape future decisions around matchdays.”

Qualtrics President of Products and Services, Brad Anderson:

“With Qualtrics, Manchester City can listen to and understand fan feedback in real time and take action to improve matchday experiences,” he said.

“But fan experience isn’t limited to the stadium — the digital and at-home fan experience is just as important, and Qualtrics will help Manchester City to deliver a personalized experience to their fans wherever they are.”

Bundesliga agrees partnership with digital company Sorare

Fan token

Bundesliga International have agreed a partnership in the growing sector of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) with successful digital company Sorare.

In an effort to take the marketing of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 to new innovative heights, the subsidiary of DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga will partner with the popular fantasy football game effective immediately until at least the 2022/23 season.

Sorare, founded in Paris in 2018, is the market leader for NFTs as part of a fantasy football game. NFTs are digital assets made unique with individual encryption using blockchain technology.

In Sorare’s case, for example, limited-edition NFTs featuring professional football players can be purchased in order to create virtual teams. Sales are set to start in October, with further details to be provided soon.

The official partnership centres on NFTs in the form of digital player items that can be played in the integrated fantasy football game and also collected, exchanged and traded on the Sorare platform. Next year, Sorare will also publish NFT-based videos from the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, known as “Moments”, which can likewise be collected and played in the fantasy football game.

Robert Klein, CEO of DFL subsidiary Bundesliga International:

“We are delighted to be partners with such a dynamic and exciting company. NFTs are a digital technology of the future that should not be underestimated – especially in the sport sector.

“I am therefore convinced that this collaboration will give rise to further impulses. At the same time, Sorare will benefit from the appeal of one of the most popular sport brands.”

CEO and co-founder of Sorare, Nicolas Julia:

“Germany usually attracts the highest average attendance in football stadiums. It is football as it’s meant to be, where fans engage with their favourite players and club each weekend. We’re thrilled to allow Bundesliga fans in Germany and globally to come together online and to feel ownership of the sports they love.

“The Bundesliga is one of the best leagues in the world, home to some of the most exciting clubs and footballers on earth. We are very proud to partner with them to launch our first NFT Moments – we are building the future of fandom together.”

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