Is grassroots sports ready for a tech revolution?
Wherever we look in elite sports today, it is difficult to argue against the positive impact that technology has had – from the awesome goal-line technology in football to the Hawk-eye technology used in cricket to judge LBW decisions. The introduction of technology in sports has at its core the objective of making the game better – the players, the coaching as well as the fan and viewer experience. Its adoption has however not been universally accepted as some, especially fans, believe it reduces the game to mere x’s and o’s and therefore drains the life out of the game – an argument currently being made about the video assistant referee (VAR) system in football.
Grassroots sports has been left behind
As more money has gone into the elite game with increased investment in sports franchises by wealthy owners in addition to mega broadcast rights deals, elite sports have been able to adopt cutting edge technology because the costs are not a barrier. The same however cannot be said of the grassroots and amateur game. Local tennis courts cannot afford to install line call technology, while VAR cannot function at the semi-pro level of football due to financial barriers. This trend cannot be allowed to continue because there can be no elite sports without grassroots and amateur sports. Most elite players in football and other sports start out developing their craft at their local team before being identified and progressed to elite clubs. The precarious nature of grassroots sports has been brought into sharper focus due to Covid-19 pandemic with many teams teething on the edge of financial collapse.
Affordable technology can bridge the gap
With the emerging application of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in sports, there is now a possibility for affordable technology to be developed for the lower league clubs. Advances in computer vision and deep learning techniques are beginning to open up doors for the development of products that can provide performance and video analysis tools that are similar to those used at the elite level.
With grassroots sports lacking the stadium infrastructure, cameras and human resource available at the elite level, AI technology is helping to bridge this gap, leveraging the power of automation and learning algorithms. Research carried out by PwC in 2019 shows that AI has great potential for grassroots in the field of video analysis and talent id as well as in coaching. These technologies will undoubtedly help to unlock future players as well as help their coaches to evaluate their methods at scale like never before.
AI start-ups leading the charge
Statmetrix is a sports technology company that is at the forefront of research and development of AI-enabled technology for grassroots sports. Our video capture technology enables the easy recording of outdoor and indoor sports using readily available action cameras such as GoPros. Our vision is to develop solutions that help coaches to understand the performance and development of their players through the lens of video and data analysis. At the earliest stage of a players technical and tactical development, it is crucial that they receive objective feedback that can help to improve their natural abilities. Coaches of grassroots football teams in the UK can now use Statmetrix’s affordable match recording unit to record their matches while using our platform to share feedback and comments, as well as engage their players using other features on the platform.
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