Soccer team in a huddle

Technology Changes the Game for Aspiring Young Athletes

June 20, 2016 by Stefan Wagner 67

Success in sports doesn’t happen by accident and dynasties don’t form overnight. Rather, in order to achieve sustained success on the field, teams must continuously invest in players of the next generation—the rising talent that will form the team five and even 10 years from now.

Today’s winning teams know this, and they have found something of a secret formula in expansive youth sports initiatives.


SAP is partnering with Qatar’s Aspire Academy to ramp up
involvement in an over $7 billion-a-year youth sports industry

In 2014, the reigning World Cup champion German Football Association (DFB) began its “project of the century,” investing €89 million in a DFB Academy to be constructed in Frankfurt. The Academy, which the DFB hopes to have completed by the end of 2018, will become the epicenter of football in Germany, a place where experts can collaborate and, most importantly, where players at every level of the game can develop their knowledge and skills. Germany isn’t alone; other countries are also investing in youth sports at a national level. Bahrain’s Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs has been in talks with Bahraini officials to stimulate youth sports initiatives, and in the United States, which has seen a curious downward trend in youth sports participation, a congressional bill has been proposed that would include tax breaks to incentivize the nation’s youth (or, more accurately, their parents) to become more active in sports.

But the most recent development comes from Qatar, whose Aspire Academy has teamed up with SAP in a serious push to grow Qatar’s youth sports environment. Founded in 2004, Aspire Academy seeks to develop young Qatari athletes, while also providing them with a high quality secondary education. The Academy itself boasts the largest indoor sports dome in the world, capable of hosting 13 different sporting events simultaneously, as well as a host of other offerings, including seven outdoor pitches, sports science facilities, a state-of-the-art school, and student athlete dormitories. Because Qatar has such a small population, it is important for the country to identify its most talented athletes at a young age and then coach them to reach their fullest athletic and academic potential. Aspire has already seen great success, with several of their athletes going on to the Olympics and World Cup.

In partnering and co-innovating with SAP, Aspire ensures that its coaches and athletes will have access to the data they need and are able to derive insights that will allow them to gain a competitive edge. With a host of sports-oriented applications and data analytic solutions powered by the industry’s fastest database, SAP HANA, SAP is uniquely positioned to support Aspire Academy’s efforts to cultivate world-class Qatari athletes. The data Aspire needs will be made available in real time, on any mobile device, enabling them to improve player performance, development, and health, as well as coaching strategy and overall sports operations.

SAP solutions help athletes train better, outsmart competitors, and avoid injury.

Recognizing the growing importance of technology in gaining a competitive edge in today’s sports environment, as well as the growing opportunities in the sports analytics market, SAP has developed the Digital Athlete Framework. This framework—which leverages SAP solutions to help athletes train better, outsmart their competitors, and avoid injury—is based on four key pillars:

  1. Connected Athlete: Use the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect and collect athlete data
  2. Digital Athlete Core: Consolidate and process data in real time from many devices and systems
  3. Sports Intelligence: Find insights rapidly from mountains of data and act quickly
  4. United Team Operations: Bring all disciplines together on a real-time platform

With this framework in mind, SAP has created a comprehensive sports management solution called SAP Sports One, which enables players, coaches, and owners alike to optimize their contributions to the team.

These days, everything is digital—sports included. It has become the norm to combine data science with sports management. In fact, SAP was an integral part (the “12th Man“) of Germany’s 2014 World Cup Victory, and just last month, SAP announced two new prototypes that the German team will use during UEFA EURO 2016. And now Qatar’s Aspire Academy will co-innovate with SAP to redefine the interface of youth, sports and technology.

Stefan Wagner is General Manager and Executive Vice President for Sports and Entertainment at SAP

Top image via Shutterstock

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