Yokohama FC challenges the future with sports DX

Digital transformation is gaining momentum in the sports industry as well. It can be said that the use of digital technology is now essential when considering club management, such as using data to manage player conditions and initiatives that utilize video analysis. In this article, we will introduce Yokohama FC and Macnica 's sports DX efforts and future vision.

From left: Macnica Nakade, Yokohama Fulie Sports Club Co., Ltd. Mr. Ueo, Macnica Sato

(From left: Macnica, Mr. Ueo Yokohama Fulie Sports Club Co., Ltd., Ltd., and Macnica)

The encounter between Yokohama FC and Macnica

The initiative between Yokohama FC and Macnica has only recently begun, but the connection between the two began with an encounter between Macnica Managing Director Sato and Mr. Ueo were avid supporters of Yokohama FC.

``When we were promoted to J1, I heard from Mr. Ueo that ``When VIPs come to the stadium, sometimes we are unable to greet them in a timely manner due to communication errors,'' and we came to the realization that ``Facial recognition and AI'' I thought it would be easy to do this by combining them and sending notifications wirelessly.After that, I started discussing DX with Mr. Mr. Ueo and the staff.'' (Sato)

Due to the evolution of technology, DX has become popular in the sports industry, including soccer, and significant growth is expected. Rather than simply introducing technology to improve efficiency, Macnica aims to become the number one DX team in J1 by working with Yokohama FC on initiatives that will make fans and supporters feel the changes.

Yokohama FC's Vision and Strategy

In 2018, when Mr. Ueo was appointed president, Yokohama FC belonged to J2 and was aiming to be promoted to J1. First, Mr. Mr. Ueo spent a year developing a vision for the club. Over the next few years, we will eventually win the J1 title and set a goal to share the joy with the citizens of Yokohama, our hometown, and our supporters.

The vision is to win titles with excellent players and produce players for the Japanese national team from among them. To that end, it is extremely important to develop an environment that nurtures players and strengthens the team. Coaches, instructors, scouts, medical staff, management systems, general facilities, grounds, and clubhouses are also necessary.

Of course, in order to continue to be a team and players that are loved by the community, to respond to fan service and media, and to actively participate in community activities, Yokohama FC has 7 visions. I started working on it in the year.

Yokohama FC's Vision and Strategy

*The above materials were formulated in 2019, and this session will be the content of the discussion in early November​ ​2021.

The team is steadily getting stronger and will be promoted to J1 in 2019. “We are competing in J1 in 2020 and 2021. So far, I think we are making good progress according to our vision,” said Mr. Ueo.

Income is essential to realizing these visions. Yokohama FC has formulated a sales plan in its medium-term management plan, with one goal of 3 billion yen. In the 2020 season, when we didn't know if we could finish the league match with no spectators and mobilization restrictions due to the corona sickness, we landed at 2.1 billion yen. “3 billion yen is the 10th to 13th scale in J1. The top team is 5 billion yen, but we want to increase the scale to 1.5 times the current scale in about 5 years so that we can establish ourselves in J1 and aim for the title. I'm thinking about it." (Mr. Ueo).

The strategy to realize the vision has three perspectives: business feasibility, competitiveness, and sociality. Business feasibility is marketing to expand fans and supporters, increase income by having them come to the stadium and purchase goods, and use the funds to strengthen and develop players and teams. . Competitiveness is the strengthening and training of players and teams to win matches. Sociality is also a feature of the J.League, and it is also attracting attention from the perspective of SDGs, ESG, SIB, etc., such as solving social issues that hometowns face.

Yokohama FC's Vision and Strategy

Mr. Mr. Ueo says that his favorite phrase is "You can only improve what you can measure." This is what a coach invited from overseas said in a project called "PROJECT DNA", which the J. Quantifying and improving is one of the things that Yokohama FC wants to put into practice,” says Mr. Ueo.

Digital has made it possible to quantify many aspects of the sport. In addition to the performance of individual players, analysis technology is also advancing, such as preventing injuries from conditions, improving training efficiency, and grasping the situation of the opposing team from images. “There are qualitative aspects that cannot be measured by numbers, such as the eyes of a coach, but I would like to combine quantitative and qualitative aspects to make the club stronger and expand the scale of the business,” said Mr. Mr. Ueo.

Yokohama FC ✕ Macnica Sports DX

According to a survey, the "sports + technology" market is expected to expand about three times in size by 2027. Advances in technology and data analytics are expected to drive growth.

① Infection control

Macnica is working on various initiatives with Yokohama FC. The 2020 season, which was hit by the coronavirus pandemic, was restarted after a long suspension period by limiting the number of people attending each game, but it was a rule that the body temperature of fans and supporters attending the stadium must be measured. . When we first reopened, we had to measure thousands of people one by one using a measuring device, which took a long time and placed a heavy workload on our staff. Another issue was that fans and supporters who wanted to enter the stadium quickly had to wait for a long time at the entrance.

Therefore, Macnica provided a body surface temperature detection solution as part of infection control and DX. By automatically measuring the surface body temperature of visitors and having staff check them, customers will be able to enter the venue without stress. ``Entrance time has been shortened to about one-third compared to before, and this is definitely an example of how digital technology has improved the stadium environment,'' says Mr. Ueo.

Infection control

(2) Injury prevention and player development

Mr. Ueo also hopes that technology will be able to help prevent player injuries.

"It's best for the club if the players are at 100% for every game, but there is always the risk of injury in intense matches. Or, we want players to improve through repeated training, but there is still the risk of injury. By using digital technology, we can allow players to train and play in matches without getting injured, and I feel that by thoroughly analyzing the opponents, we are able to get closer to victory," Mr. Ueo.

As part of an effort to prevent injuries to players, Macnica is promoting the use of "Tech Shorts" from Strive Tech, with whom the company has a partnership. The Tech Shorts collect real-time data on the condition of players' quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes while they are active. In addition, by combining and integrating data such as the player's movement distance and acceleration obtained from GPS devices attached to underwear worn under the uniform, the team can grasp the player's muscle activity and fatigue level, and support the planning and execution of appropriate training that takes into account factors such as injury risk.

"With the Tech Shorts, players can wear them just like their regular training clothes, and we can now see things like muscle strain in real time during training and matches. They can even be washed, so it's great that they have developed a solution that benefits not only the players but also the support staff, including managers," Mr. Ueo.

Injury prevention and player development

Yokohama FC is working with local universities and research institutes to develop and strengthen players, and it is expected that the children at the academy will be able to aim to become professional players through safe training. will be

“Sports x Technology” accelerated by AI

Macnica is also working on utilizing a wide variety of data obtained from sensors worn by athletes in combination with AI algorithms developed by Macnica 's AI research institute, AI Research & Innovation Hub (commonly known as ARIH).

In particular, analysis that uses footage of player movements or the opposing team in a match has often had to be left to the subjectivity of the viewer, but it is possible to save labor by using an approach that utilizes AI algorithms. It is expected that this will enable analysts to focus on obtaining more refined insights.

In principle, J1 games are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but even on days when no games are held, if the next venue is an away destination, players and team staff must travel, and during the season It can be said that it is extremely difficult to analyze data and reflect the insights obtained from the analysis in individual player training and team tactics, and to secure enough time to verify its effectiveness. .

“As Yokohama FC, we still haven't put enough effort into data analysis.Up until now, our analysis staff had been analyzing quantitatively and qualitatively in the limited time until the next match, but Analysis had its limitations due to time constraints.For example, by using AI, analysis staff can grasp quantitative data without having to watch the entire 90-minute match video. , I think there will come a time when things that have been considered subjectively up until now will actually look different as data.By combining human eyes and AI, we can improve accuracy. I expect that we will be able to perform high-level analysis.'' (Mr. Ueo)

Of course, AI is by no means a "magic tool." In order to realize AI that truly contributes, Yokohama FC and Macnica will form one team and work together to carefully listen to and understand the various issues that Yokohama FC is facing, and use AI to solve them and make them more effective. We will work together to develop an approach that can bring out the best in the world.

“Sports x Technology” accelerated by AI

``We really asked them to unravel each issue one by one, and asked questions such as ``What do you spend your time doing?'' and ``How could you spend your time doing something different?'' Receiving suggestions such as, ``Let's do this in this way and save some time'' and ``If we use a little more AI, this part will be clearer,'' is one of the great things we do with Macnica. This is one of the things we are extremely grateful for.'' (Mr. Ueo)

Although our positions are different, the members of ARIH are becoming more and more fans of Yokohama FC through our co-creation efforts with Yokohama FC. As a supporter of the team and the "12th player," Macnica will aim for victory for both Yokohama FC.

Click here for details of "Strive Tech", an athlete's failure risk prediction