- The Netherlands is challenged to push diversity to the next level
- The University of Twente, FootballEquals and SciSports use technology and data to create equal opportunities
The University of Twente will collaborate with the FootballEquals Foundation. The collaboration is focussed on football data collection and processing, aimed at promoting social interaction in sports. To obtain new insights into football, the University of Twente and FootbalEaqualls work together with the UT spin-off SciSports.
Social interaction, pedagogical aspects and safety are examined using the collected data. Several top clubs already have such tracking systems in place, says Joost Kok, dean of the EEMCS faculty of the University of Twente. “Those clubs have a commercial interest, but the approach of generating data for research and social projects, such as the FootballEquals Foundation, is unique. We will interpret the data in collaboration with psychologists. In addition to the social aspect, we will, of course, also use the system to analyse football data. It is possible to give instructions to the players during the match based on the collected real-time data.”
Joost Kok is an experienced researcher in the field of data science and the development of software for data analysis. He says: “Our researchers are eager to get going with big data, but there are hurdles because big data comes with privacy concerns. That is why we look for domains where people voluntarily donate data. Sport is such an example. In collaboration with the FootballEquals Foundation, we can put data science to work. This is an excellent opportunity for us, and it is wonderful that we now have the tracking system on campus.”
According to Kok, the University of Twente has everything to make this collaboration a success. Sensors, chips, data processing and the math to draw conclusions… with electrical engineering, computer science and mathematics, the University of Twente masters the full data and sensing domain.
The FootballEquals Foundation is an initiative of Mary Kok-Willemsen, former head coach of the FC Twente women’s team. The foundation focuses on scoring global goals via football. With the FootballEquals Academy, over 90 boys and girls train football together to develop their talent. Mary Kok-Willemsen: “In Twente, we score global goals with football by not differentiating between boys and girls. In addition to aptitude and learning ability, we look at willingness. That is why our teams (with players of 9 to 17 years old) consist of approximately 50% boys and 50% girls. With the University of Twente and many other partners, we will research similarities and differences. We have a challenge in the Netherlands to get more diversity to the top. This not only applies to business, but also the football world. We’re lucky to have such a wonderful partner as the University of Twente. While football is our means, creating equal opportunities is our goal.”
SciSports, founded in 2013 by three University of Twente students, specialises in the analysis of football data. With the Insight platform, clubs, agencies and associations get access to the statistics of 90,000 professional players worldwide. The national team of Belgium, among others, used SciSports’ services. SciSports collaborates with several professional clubs in the Netherlands. The company also advised Memphis Depay to choose Olympique Lyon based on data. SciSports is seen as a so-called Next Unicorn, a company that may be worth more than a billion dollars in the future.