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Pro Clubs & Colleges

Helping the Stars of Tomorrow On Their Journey Towards The First Team

By: Stats Perform

Jens Melvang, Senior Product Manager at Stats Perform, has contributed an article to the latest issue of FC Business magazine. In his article, he considers how tools like the newly released Opta Pro Hub can help a club identify emerging players and then manage their ongoing development through every age group.

From the moment an emerging player is first identified, their journey through the academy and into senior football is accompanied by an ever-increasing level of detailed performance data. Now, the Opta Pro Hub is helping clubs interrogate this data more effectively through one platform, to strengthen their performance pathways.

Opta Pro Hub’s player profile, where data on a player stored by a club is centrally accessible

When I was on my own journey towards becoming a professional footballer in the 1990s, at the Odense Academy in Denmark, you could literally count the number of staff overseeing my development each year on one hand.

Now, thanks to major investment in youth academies around Europe, each squad in your average club academy will be supported by a strong backroom team of highly qualified specialists, who together oversee every facet of a player’s technical, tactical and physical development.

Informed by each staff member’s own area of expertise, modern academies have developed and harnessed their own unique learning environment, where a significant volume of all squad evaluation is underpinned by various forms of data. From daily strength and conditioning activity and fitness exercises, to training drills and in-game performances, each department in a modern academy is now capturing millions of data points a month, and that number is growing.

On a daily level, this data is invaluable to periodising each player’s weekly training in line with their own individual development plans. However, as more and more specialised forms of data continue to get captured across departments, it can become increasingly difficult to leverage this data in the most effective, joined-up way.

One of the biggest issues facing clubs is how all their data is stored. Ideally every club should have ‘one source of truth’ where every data point recorded during the season is accessible from one place. However you will find many examples where GPS data, managed by the fitness coaches, sits in a separate database from where training and match reports are filed. There may also be another platform where all general administration is stored, and another where timestamped event data captured from every match is managed. If this is the scenario faced by a club, then it is essential that their various data sources are at least mapped, so they can be queried alongside each other.

To address this issue of data fragmentation, Stats Perform are working with MyCoach Pro to launch a new platform ahead of the 2024-25 season: Opta Pro Hub.

Founded in 2017, MyCoach Pro is a specialist in the design and development of digital athlete data management solutions (AMS). In professional football they work with 130 teams, including every French club in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2. France’s World Cup winning captain, Hugo Lloris, is part of the MyCoach Pro team.

Hugo Lloris discusses Opta Pro Hub and the impact of data in football

Our aim with Opta Pro Hub is simple: to provide clubs with their own bespoke digital headquarters, without the expensive maintenance costs of building their own solution in-house, providing a place where they can centrally manage every daily activity, data point and report for each registered player 24/7. This can be achieved through the integration of all performance data feeds, including Opta data and data captured from wearable devices, alongside the entry of all subjective information from scouts, coaches and admin staff.

This information, captured over a long-term period, can then be used to inform key decisions, at individual player level, first-team pathways and in the future make-up of men’s and women’s first team squads – all guided by KPIs relevant to a game model.

Recording The Start Of Each Players’ Journey

One of the key fundamentals of establishing a successful performance pathway is a strong and effective recruitment operation, at all levels of a club.

Recruitment solutions are something which is in Stats Perform’s DNA, with its ties to the original pioneers in digital scouting solutions: Scout7.

Stats Perform, who acquired Scout7 in 2017, are building on the key fundamentals which made Scout7 so successful. Opta Pro Hub takes Scout7’s scouting management model to the next level, by enabling clubs to manage all their grassroots and youth team scouting activity as well as their first team scouting.

As well as allowing clubs to better monitor and review the daily activities of their entire scouting operation, the inclusion of youth scouting tools in Opta Pro Hub means that records for every player start from the moment they were first identified by a scout at junior level – meaning that the club can build a detailed profile on players before they are even registered, a valuable additional layer of information when managing their ongoing development.

Recruitment data, at all levels, is stored in central player records.

Collecting, Centralising & Structuring All Performance Insights

Once a player has been successfully recruited, Opta Pro Hub then enables all of their daily coaching and development activity to be recorded during the season; something which the players have direct access to themselves via their own App.

Coaches can retain a record of their performances in all training drills and exercises, fulfilling both EPPP requirements as well as informing their development plan, which can be tailored based on the club’s performance targets. Alongside subjective assessments, all GPS data can be uploaded from every fitness session and stored for comparing physical performance and managing their training load.

With detailed on-ball Opta data being collected from every first-team game played across the Premier League and EFL, many clubs are now getting the same Opta data from their age group academy games collected too, to ensure all their players are assessed against the same consistent KPIs. All this data can be integrated into Opta Pro Hub, so that all objective match data can be compared across each squad alongside coach reports.

Finally, a medical module enables every player consultation, injury and historical treatment plan to be centrally archived.

A player’s injury and rehabilitation history can be stored in Opta Pro Hub

Positively Impacting Decision Making

As I have already stated, keeping a record of both subjective and objective data, across departments, in one centralised platform, is one way of overcoming a key barrier of using information to positively influence key decisions.

However, you also need to be able to easily interrogate each of these data sources, at a deep granular level, to identify key trends which can have a meaningful impact on crucial decisions relating to both strategic objectives and future squad plans.

What I believe sets Opta Pro Hub apart from other technologies is how it enables club staff to easily identify underlying performance trends. This is achieved using an innovative Report BI, where the long-term performance of each squad can be evaluated using training data, fitness data and match data alongside one another.

The Report BI transforms raw data into a consumable format for in-depth analysis and can be used to inform performance reviews at various points of the season, both with players individually and with coaches responsible for each age group.

As an industry, professional football has never had access to as much rich performance data as it has now. With the introduction of Opta Pro Hub, clubs now have the means to extract even more value out of the information it holds to make better predictions and maximise the number of players progressing along their pathway.

For more on Opta Pro Hub, go to:

Read the Latest FC Business Issue HERE