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"We’re heading to a place where data and videos will be used directly by players and parents"

We already posted part one of the interview, where Israeli senior football commentator, former coach, and former player Ori Uzan spoke about his personal experience with data analytics and how he used it himself. Uzan spoke about how data helped him coach with his own players and empowered their play.

We continued the conversation and talked about the future and the field as a whole. Uzan supplied some insight that he was uniquely capable of giving as a football veteran. He spoke about the advantages data gives leagues, his ideas for personalized videos, and how parents of players can be involved.

“Clubs are hesitant about adding technological solutions because of conservatism”

Most of the football clubs and academies in sub-elite football countries are finding it difficult to implement data solutions due to limited funds, lack of initial expertise, or missing infrastructure. We asked Uzan his thoughts about the main obstacle he identifies in Israeli football. His answer might surprise some people.

“Clubs are hesitant about adding technological solutions because of conservatism and mental rigidity above any other reason. It’s not about costs, infrastructure, or initial expertise as much as it is fear of progress. You’re bringing in new technology and it can make people in the organization obsolete. Even yourself. I compare it to the way some clubs have a fear of bringing cameras into the locker room and sharing exclusive scenes with fans”.

‘I was in locker rooms, and sharing the huddles, pep talks, and celebrations can connect and engage fans in ways they haven’t been connected so far. At the end of the day, the teams control this content anyway. They’re not exposing secrets, and yet they are cautious with it. This is an example of conservatism that for me is relevant when discussing their approach towards technology. It’s all about fear of technology’s invasion into their territory. Very few are open to it”.

“It’s in everybody’s best interests if leagues will implement technological data solutions”

If technological solutions will be implemented through leagues and associations, do you think some of the obstacles you’ve mentioned could be overcome?

“I think it would be great. It’s in everybody’s best interests and top leagues like the Premier League are already doing it and giving the teams video and data solutions. One thing to consider is that some clubs wouldn’t want to share details about their performance, but data would still have value”.

“For instance, leagues could generate anonymous rankings sorted by players’ position, to create an objective basis for comparison. When this kind of data will be available, a coach will be able to say to a player: “You cover less distance than the average” or “If you improve this stat, you’ll be the leader of this category”.

“It will also benefit youth players. They will know the standards they need to meet to be promoted to the adult team. Obviously, when the comparison is done between players from the same league, it’s more reliable, but think about an Israeli right back who wants to move to a better league. He’d want to know the numbers that players in the same position there achieved. I would also add that when the association uses a solution like this, it helps the national teams as well”.

What additional use-cases do you see in solutions’ adoption by leagues and associations?

“Sharing the information. Data can be publicized, by creating leaderboards and rankings that would interest fans and supplying them with an objective evaluation of their teams and players. Being able to say “this is the team that had the highest number of successful crosses. Sharing data can also help leagues and associations promote themselves”.

“They can show that the level of play in their country meets higher standards than it seems. For a long time I’ve been telling the Israeli league to share details about sprints, for instance, to show that stigmas about the Israeli player are wrong”.

“In addition, you have broadcasting. Leagues that work with technological solutions can supply data to media channels that own the TV rights. It will require some adaptations, as football viewers are less interested in hearing about complicated metrics, but for sure there are spicy details that can capture viewers’ attention. Certainly in pre-game, or when recapping a match-day”.

“Parents are significant data users as well”

Let’s talk about the next step in the evolution of this data era in football. Where do you see it going next? Can you mark the next end-consumers?

“I have no doubt that we’re heading to a place where data and videos will be used personally by players and parents. Young players would do anything these days to become professional footballers. They will use data and personalized videos specifically to develop and improve, self-promote on social media, impress agents and scouts, and also share their clips with fans and relatives”.

“Parents are significant users as well. If you approach them and tell them you’re coming to the match, recording their kid, and giving them important clips, data, and analysis, they’ll kill for it. If companies will also employ in-house professionals that analyse the child’s performance and explain helpful techniques, that takes even more off the parent’s hands. Another option is sending them the end-materials: personalized videos showing all of the kid’s actions. This is helpful if they already have a professional on board.

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