CASTLE Lager Premier Soccer League clubs have been challenged to emulate Bulawayo Chiefs and start using technology tools to monitor players’ progress as well as come up with data to market their athletes.
With world football moving towards adapting technology tools that help monitor players’ performances during training and matches, Supersport chief executive officer Stan Matthews encouraged Zimbabwean teams to invest in technology.
Addressing participants at a day-long workshop whose theme was; “It’s time to make Zim football exciting again,” the Supersport boss said having a player’s data on fingertips is a new trend in international football.
The workshop was organised by the country’s leading media house, Zimpapers, who took an active initiative to make Zimbabwe’s football exciting again by holding an Indaba meant to find ways of bringing fans back into the stadia.
Through their ZTNPrime, the Premier Soccer League’s official broadcasting partner, Zimpapers partnered top sports broadcaster Supersport to capacitate local clubs.
During his presentation, Matthews was shocked to discover that only Bulawayo Chiefs are using GPS tracking vests.
“Invest in technology. There are apps that can help you monitor the progress of your players, how much distance have they covered, what’s their top-speed, heart rate, how many passes did they complete and interceptions made at the click of a button. Such details assist you when marketing players.
Data collected makes it easy for coaches and scouts, so you must invest in those GPS tracking technologies,” said Matthews.
Bulawayo Chiefs set a new trend in March 2021 when they announced a partnership with Catapult Sports, who create technology to help athletes and teams perform to their true potential.
The wearable technologies developed by Catapult are designed to address fundamental questions in sports performance.
Through the Catapult Sports deal, Bulawayo Chiefs became the first club in Zimbabwe to use their own GPS tracking system, inserted in vests that players wear.
The technology makes it easy for the Chiefs technical team to monitor and analyse players’ data.
Thulani Javas Sibanda, Bulawayo Chiefs spokesperson said: “Data science and statistics tracking are very important to us as we align our football with the current international trends. Football is now scientific, players are now rated by their stats and GPS records.
Thulani ‘Javas’ Sibanda
“We are delighted as Bulawayo Chiefs to have put measures to ensure that we drive towards that goal.
We are happy that at the moment we now have player stats at the touch of the button. We can tell how many minutes in total a player has played so far this season, how many kilometres he has run, what’s his positional discipline (heat maps).
“Besides working on marketing our players, it (GPS data) also helps our coaching department to monitor and manage players.”
Besides encouraging clubs to invest in equipment to monitor players’ performances, Matthews also encouraged clubs to cultivate ways of getting commercial value of their brands.
The Supersport told clubs to increase their social media presence, which in turn gives rise to their brand visibility that corporate partners want.
Presently, Bulawayo Chiefs rule the roost on Twitter, with a following of 82 800, with Highlanders second on 59 000 while Chicken Inn are third on 48 100. Caps United fourth with 41 600, then FC Platinum on 30 800 while Dynamos have 19 300 followers.
On the clubs’ official Facebook, Highlanders tops the table with 81 000, followed by FC Platinum on 56 000, Dynamos on 27 000, caps United (18 000), Bulawayo Chiefs (13 000) and then Chicken inn with 10 000 followers.
Bulawayo Chiefs are targeting at ending the season with more than 100 000 Twitter followers.
“As for our digital footprint, we dream of scaling the heights beyond just Zimbabwe, we want to grow to be counted among Africa’s best. We will stick to our game plan and we believe with time we will achieve our goals,” Sibanda said.