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AI takeover?

Stakeholders welcome the use of aritificial intelligence in development

Published:Wednesday | April 5, 2023 | 1:14 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer

StarApple Artificial Intelligence and the Game of Life foundation recently hosted the first SportsBrain Youth Football Combine at the Barbican mini turf.

The event, endorsed by the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), is the first of its kind, locally, and the aim of the groundbreaking technology is basically to collect data on young players, forecast their success rate, and design programs to help them develop.

StarApple CEO, and mastermind, Adrian Dunkley, said the objective is to give coaches tools to train and develop children, physically, mentally and technically.

The various data collected will be used to develop customised training for each child, and they will be monitored through the different stages and measured with their peers worldwide to get an indication of their progress.

“You have to customise their training. You have to measure things and that means data, data, data,” Dunkley said.

He uses drones, data analysis and artificial intelligence, different technical tools and technologies, all focused on developing the next great Jamaican talent.

“We want to take a kid from primary, prep school and forecast the next 30 years of his life. If he knows from now, he can change and improve and that’s the goal.”

After completing the training, players will get their own training card with their individual stats, and they will get these at each participation.

TRACKING PROGRESS

“So it’s about performance and tracking progress. We’ll track their performance and make sure they are doing well,” he continued.

The technology, which is being offering for free, can also be used to assist other sports.

However, the next step is a virtual reality simulation program that is near completion. With this technology, Dunkley said individuals and teams can match up (via simulation) against the best players and teams in the world and get a near-accurate results.

“We have been working on this for a year. We have models. What we lack now is the local data.

“I am testing it on my brother. He can match up against Messi and PSG and see how good he is. We actually simulate all this, so a coach can predict a match before the game,” he said.

He believes the technology can be very useful to the Reggae Boyz and local clubs, and testing will continue to ensure the program is really beneficial.

“We are testing to see if this is going to make them better footballers. It may actually be detrimental and that’s why we are taking out the garbage.”

Data privacy is also a priority and tools will be used to keep players’ identities and profiles private.

Although he has been getting some support, the program still requires funding and more volunteers for data collection.

“I am not a sport expert. I am a scientist. But my forecast is value. We are using other sports and some of the biggest clubs in the world. We look at what they do good and what they are doing right and curate it for Jamaican players. But we are learning and adapting as we go,” he said.

Game of Life (GOL) provided the children from their All Ps knockout tournament recently and CEO Shamal Thomas said they are due a second staging from July 1-2, where they intend to help increase the database.

He noted that from grassroot to professional football, the program aims to keep players’ minds and bodies in prime condition.

DEVELOPMENT

“The data gathered will help us identify certain things. We will invite kids from Kingston and others parishes. That way we can unearth the many talents and give them the necessary attention and tools for development,” he said.

PFJL CEO, Owen Hill, also gave the program a big thumbs up.

According to Hill, the sporting world is looking to artificial intelligence to drive growth and performance and Jamaica must fall in line to compete with the best in the world.

“Technology like this is massive. It’s groundbreaking. Hopefully more entities that are a part of football can employ it.

“PFJL is fully excited by it. If we are going to compete and extract talent and put players up for sale, this is what the scouts and teams abroad want. They want to know what we have and what are doing.”

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com