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Game Changers: Manchester City hosts world’s first data hackathon

A look at the technology and innovation currently making waves across the world of sport

Published in Sports Management Sep 2016 issue 126
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Manchester City hosts world’s first data hackathon

English Premier League club Manchester City has held the first ever football data hackathon, which looked to uncover new ways of drilling into – and using – data collected from live matches.

The #HackMCFC received almost 400 applications from more than 40 countries, from which a final group of 60 were selected to take part.

Participants were then divided into 14 working groups and given unprecedented access to performance analysis systems, as well as detailed player and match data provided by the Premier League and its official data partners, tech companies OptaPro and ChyronHego. Using the data, the “hackers” were able to uncover new insights on player performance.

The winning group developed a machine learning algorithm which focused on decision making in games. The judges praised the solution’s effectiveness and potential for future implementation.

The winning team – which consisted of Ben Low, Ben Blackmore, Steven Hassall, Paul Robinson and Lasse Folkersen were given a £7,000 cash prize.

David Eccles, head of ChryonHego’s Tracab player tracking system – and one of the judges – said: “The insights extrapolated from the data by the hackers has proven that we are only just beginning to fully understand the power big data can have on tactical performance and analysis.”

www.mancity.com

The hackathon attracted people from more than 40 countries to get involved
The hackathon attracted people from more than 40 countries to get involved

Chelsea puts the fantasy into shopping

Chelsea FC has become the first professional sports club to start selling virtual items of clothing online, after linking up with the rapidly-growing Rawr Messenger platform.

Rawr is an avatar-based messaging app, which allows users to chat to each other in traditional text format – as well as create a personalised 3D avatar that can be dressed and equipped with items.

Chelsea will launch an official digital store on Rawr, which will allow users to buy the official kit for their avatar to wear – as well as a range of other items of clothing – such as scarves and hats.
It is the first time ever that 3D wearable items are available to purchase within a messaging app and the first relationship between Rawr and sports.

Chelsea FC chair Bruce Buck said: “This ground-breaking relationship puts us at the front of the pack when it comes to digital innovation among professional sports clubs, and we cannot wait to see how Chelsea supporters interact with each other, and their other friends, all over the world.”

Products on Rawr – including the Chelsea kits – can be purchased with in-app currency, which can be bought outright or accrued over time.

www.chelseafc.com

The virtual kits on sale through Rawr
The virtual kits on sale through Rawr

Adidas to open robot-powered “Speedfactory” in Atlanta

Germany-based Sportswear giant Adidas has announced plans to open a factory with a difference next year – using the latest in robot technology as it aims to speed up the production processes of its iconic running shoes.

The company’s new “Speedfactory”, due to open in Atlanta, US, during late 2017, is designed to produce up to half a million pairs of shoes.

Glenn Bennett, Adidas Group executive board member, described the new factory as “industry-defining” as the use of robots will allow unprecedented customisation of high-performance products for “discerning customers” – without the delays associated with custom-made products.

“Speed is far more than a business strategy for us,” Bennett said. “With Speedfactory, we’re combining some of the world’s best technology and manufacturing processes to give our consumers access to constant newness.”

www.adidas-group.com

The Speedfactory looks to speed up the manufacturing of customised shoes
The Speedfactory looks to speed up the manufacturing of customised shoes

49ers partner with Uber for exclusive travel zone

National Football League (NFL) franchise San Francisco 49ers has partnered with the Uber driver service app to create an exclusive “Uber Zone” at its Levi’s Stadium.

The first-ever dedicated curbside Uber Zone for a stadium will be activated for all major events at Levi’s Stadium and was trialled during the 49ers’ 2016 pre-season opener against the Houston Texans on 14 August. According to 49ers president Al Guido, the area will provide guests with a “seamless drop-off experience” before games. When leaving the game, riders can exit out of a separate gate and get to the Uber Zone before requesting a ride using the app.

“We’re excited to partner with Uber to continue to offer Levi’s Stadium guests with convenient, alternate modes of transportation,” Guido said. “With our stadium in the heart of Silicon Valley, partnering with a local technology company that is a global leader in rideshare tech was a natural fit.”

The move is part of the club’s strategy to encourage fans to limit the use of their own cars. Earlier this summer, a partnership with the city’s Valley Transit Authority saw the launch of an Express Light-Rail service to the stadium.

www.49ers.com

The Uber Zone will be located at the stadium’s entrance
The Uber Zone will be located at the stadium’s entrance
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