During the last World Cup Football in Russia I read about the national team of Belgium working together with a Dutch company, this company uses data intelligence to understand and improve the game. I got interested because I work as a data analyst/dba myself and I found out that this company is based in my hometown. So it's time to find out more about this company and what they do.
How did they start
Joop Munsterman the former chairman of FC Twente opened the founder's eyes at a guest lecture at our university in Enschede where he studied at that time. He told how FC Twente arranged transfers and explained it as pure intuition. As a massive fan of football manager games the founder almost fell from his seat and he thought "I can do better, I'm going to recreate Football Manager, but then in real life." in 2012 during the European championship in Ukraine Thinks really started running off when he got a call from FC Twente with the question "Do you know a good player for us?"
This data scouting service allows clubs to pick potential new players from a database which contains information of more than 300.000 players worldwide from more than 200 leagues. Data is collected from this players, and with a unique algorithm, they calculate the current players level, their historical development, and their Potential. This can help football clubs to understand the player market in different countries and leagues while most of the clubs don't have scouts in all countries. They do not only collect data about passing skills, positioning, stamina etc.. but also data like, has a player been recently drunk in a car, injured other members of the team during training and so on.
One of the ways of how they collect data is by a camera system. 14 cameras are installed in a stadium and analyze the whole game and records all the movements during a match. Their system then generates its data such as the clearness, direction, and speed of the passing, sprinting strength, jumping strength, player movements and how close the ball stays at the foot after a first touch. As you can see the options are almost endless. I also think this system can be useful for all kind of team sports for example basketball or hockey
not only clubs can use this system but players can also use it to find a club. For example, Memphis Depay asked this company to look for a club that perfectly suits his playing style. So that's how he ended up with Olympic Lyon and up to now, it looks like he made the right choice there.
What do you think? Is this the future of how teams are built together or are this dangerous development?