World Football Summit speaks exclusively with Richard Felton-Thomas, COO & Head of Sport Science at Artificial Intelligence based platform AiSCOUT, about its AI based platform that is revolutionising football scouting all over the world. This interview features in the latest edition of WFS Digest, our insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practises from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.
World Football Summit: What is AiSCOUT’s unique value for the football and sports industry?
Richard Felton-Thomas: AiSCOUT is solving a significant unmet needs and is the only app-based platform enabling the participation of prospective recruits in virtual trials, to receive near real-time analysis using benchmarked data collected from R&D and club automated feedback, all via a mobile phone.
For clubs and scouts, recruiting new players from the available worldwide pool is a formidable challenge, with no access to correct information to find and rate new players. Currently, there is no easy way for scouts to access the required information to recruit new players.
Driving the market, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted and presented a perfect opportunity to introduce and offer remote access to analysed data of amateur football talent worldwide. A global market doesn’t currently exist.
As this is a new market and with no direct competitor offering the same service, it is eminently and globally scalable. e.g., remote trials extend the reach of sports organisations exponentially, removing geographical and financial barriers to success.
AiSCOUT has first mover advantage and has been found to increase scout’s access to players by 100%, providing 100’s of actionable data points that would have been impossible for them to collect themselves.
WFS: In what ways are your products helpful for amateur players?
Felton-Thomas: The player app is available worldwide. Players complete profiles, add images and videos, anything football clubs would like to see in one place. This is similar to many other apps on the market. However, the major difference and USP of AiSCOUT, is the opportunities it provides to the player – to generate real, useable, benchmarked data, using just a mobile phone in their own environment. Everything a player adds to their account is analysed.
They first enter athletic trials to gain a national rating score – NRS (a soon to be recognised national scoring system), and then enter professional club, national squad and university technical trials for a chance to get scouted. With every trial or drill, the AI will analyse, rate, score and provide feedback based upon benchmarked scores from the club they are engaging with. New opportunities are added on a regular basis.
AiSCOUT enables amateur footballers to engage with many types of footballing organisations, from professional clubs & national squads to universities & private academies, via a mobile phone. From an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) perspective, financial restraints limits players from lower socioeconomic backgrounds being found and assessed by scouts. Geographical restraints mean that individuals from less developed countries are less likely to be recruited to academy-level.
Players all over the world can now take advantage of the many opportunities normally reserved for the lucky few that are signed by professional clubs – a chance to compare their athletic and technical ability against signed players of their own age, with psychometric and cognitive analytics to come also. This is game-changing and levels the field.
WFS: What are the outstanding features of your tools for professional clubs?
Felton-Thomas: A team of experts from the worlds of data, talent ID, AI, bio mechanics, motion capture and football, were assembled to develop what we have called a fully automated Talent Identification Platform.
The platform consists of 2 mobile apps, a control centre, and a centralised database that allows professional organisations to analyse amateur player’s athletic, technical, and (in the next release) cognitive & psychometric ability, all from a mobile phone. This allows these organisations to analyse millions of players worldwide, rather than the lucky few that are found by scouts. It also generates, collects, stores, analyses and has permission to share data on a demographic never collected at scale before. Successful beta & MVP testing with the likes of Premier League clubs Chelsea FC, Burnley FC, and India’s No 1 academy – RFYC, have resulted in 64 amateur players being trialled & signed for professional football clubs and selected for national squads.
In addition to the player app, the licensable commercial products within the platform have been created specifically for clubs or other footballing organisations. The scout app and Control Centre, are advanced systems provided to the experts – recruitment staff, scouts, coaches and the sports science team, which allow them to analyse their signed players and view the analysed data on players entering their trials from all over the world.
With this fully automated and connected platform, reaching, engaging, analysing, developing, monitoring and scouting amateur players has just become a lot easier. Clubs can now expand their scouting reach using the power of technology.
Due to be completed Q2 2022, the AiSCOUT player Performance Lab is the next generation in player analysis. It offers state of the art technology housed in a purpose-built mobile performance lab, set up to complete traditional testing or the testing of the future.
Wow.. AiSCOUT are the WINNERS of the Outstanding Innovation Initiative at the 2021 World Football Summit Awards.!!!.. A big thank you to @WFSummit and @n3xtsports for recognising our teams hard work and innovation. #WFSAwards pic.twitter.com/FX6Ob6i4r9
— AiSCOUT (@aiscout_app) September 9, 2021
WFS: What are the greatest still unexploited benefits of artificial intelligence for sport in the next 10-20 years?
Felton-Thomas: Artificial intelligence becomes increasingly more beneficial and increasingly more insightful as we plug information in to the scale that the Human Brain couldn’t compute or analyse itself. We will start to find correlations and relationships in data points, that help us discover or develop talent, in ways we knew existed. Further to this, it’s the results of the players/users/athletes across their future carers that is going to enhance the Ai based prediction models. I believe Sport and Football is at the beginning of this Journey.
WFS: In what way has the WFS Award received last year benefitted your company?
Felton-Thomas: One, the validation that our product and ideas resonate with the genuine issues that football has. Two, it increased our reputation with investors, media and potential clients
This interview features in the latest edition of WFS Digest, our insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practises from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.