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Curro’s Waterstone College intros sports performance tech

Read time 2min 20sec

A Curro school, the Waterstone College, in Kibler Park, Johannesburg, is using a combination of sensor technology and artificial intelligence (AI) to help athletes improve performance.

The college’s soccer academy recently introduced performance analytics technology Playermaker, which it is using to collect valuable data that helps improve a player’s game.

Designed for football at every level, Playermaker consists of a smart motion sensor strapped to players’ boots, which then detects data that will be used to improve performance.

To read the data, the sensor must be removed from the boot and plugged into a sensor box, while the harvested data provides the players and coaching staff with insights on the technical, tactical and physical analysis.

Waterstone College head of soccer Gavin Andrew explains the importance and impact of Playmaker, saying: “This is a valuable tool to have in any soccer academy. Once the sensor is attached to the boots, it analyses various key performance indicators and we have accurate data in Excel format. After training, each player receives his report/data on total touches, leg use percentage, distance covered, HID [high intensity discharge], intense speed changes and work rate.

“Although players only get a summary of their performance, coaches get in-depth data on the players’ progress.

“During the lockdown, we were researching ways to improve our training programme by using technology and came across various tools. The aim was to find an in-depth tracking technology tool that will give us more insights about both the technical and tactical aspects, and Playermaker was exactly what we were looking for. The footwear device is placed on over 100 players’ boots at the school and has exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

Commenting on the Playermaker investment, Jacques Nel, executive head of Waterstone College, says: “The Playermaker is an incredible product and we are excited about the results. Not only does it improve the players’ skills, but it also improves our coaches’ knowledge.”

The introduction of sports performance technology by the school comes as Curro is increasingly leaning on technology to empower students.

In March, Curro Academy students in Pretoria garnered the world’s attention with their human-centric AI solution to trace and locate African wild dogs.

The all-girls team came second in a global event − the Imagine Cup Junior Virtual Artificial Intelligence Hackathon, Girls Edition 2021 − after presenting their solution to protect the wild dog, one of the world’s most endangered mammals.

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