Over the past weekend (29-31 July), a first within football analytics took place.
Manchester City became the first football team to run a hackathon. Around 60 people from the UK and overseas spent the weekend at the club's Etihad Football Campus to approach the task of generating applicable insights from both Opta and TRACAB data.
With the obvious time limitations of an event of this style, there was a clear acknowledgement that the analysis produced over the weekend would not be the finished article. A key aim within this event, however, was to bring together people with different backgrounds, interests and skillsets to work together in a new environment where new ideas could be generated that perhaps hadn’t previously been considered.
Listen to interviews with Adam Collins (City Football Group), Ben Mackriell (Head of OptaPro), David Eccles (Chyronhego) and ‘hackers’ Joel Salamon, Sophie Ashcroft, Chris Bentley and Rob Suddaby.
Sam Gregory, a judge at the hackathon, shared his thoughts on this experience.
“#HackMCFC was an excellent opportunity to see just what can be accomplished with these data sets when you have so many creative people in the same room.
“Amongst the judging panel we were happy with the originality and diversity of ideas. Combining on-the-ball event data and off-the-ball positional data is no easy feat and what the contestants were able to accomplish in only a little over 24 hours was quite impressive.
“With more time to refine ideas and work closely with coaches in the future, the ideas that came out of the hack can and will be used to make meaningful tactical insights.”
Tom Worville was a mentor throughout the weekend and was on hand to support participants with their use of Opta data.
“The participants, despite a relatively large number having little previous interest in football, had a huge amount of ideas and were able to focus on the one or two they deemed best.
“It was rewarding to see the participants grow in confidence during the event; from some originally doubting their skills and ideas to engaging with their teams and contributing to the development of innovative (and sometimes, winning) solutions to problems currently faced by analysts.
“Getting to grips with a pair of datasets as complex and unique as the ones provided to the #HackMCFC participants takes time, which makes the fruits of the 12 teams’ labour even more impressive given the constraints they faced and they should be hugely proud of their efforts across the weekend."