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Eddie’s app in a league of its own

AN app designed by a North Clare man is getting international attention after being endorsed by Premiership soccer scouts and shortlisted in a UK technology competition.

Sports Tagger, which enables sports coaches, scouts and analysts to assess the performance of individual players and teams, is shortlisted alongside Sky Sports, Wilson and Adidas in the inaugural Sports Technology Awards.

Longford-born Eddie Crowe has lived in Lahinch since 1998 and has been involved in local sports clubs since. As a coach, he found analysing and critiquing players’ performances was not easy without evidence, so he developed an app, which he is hoping will revolutionise performance evaluation in a variety of sports.

Mr Crowe said the app was endorsed by Dave Hobson, chief scout with Manchester United and that he is now in talks with an international company about integrating his Sport Tagger app with technology packages aimed at sports teams across Canada.

“As a coach, my objective was to provide an app that would measure individual skills and provide useful data over a period of time that would help players. I also wanted to make it affordable to grassroots coaches, managers and scouts so they can build up a profile of the player’s skillset and put a programme in place for improvement. So, for example, if the data shows that a high percentage of the player’s long passes are incomplete, sessions may be tailored for that player to address this.

“I work for Data Display but I have been a player and coach with Ennistymon GAA and various soccer clubs around the county. At the moment I am a coach with Sporting Ennistymon Soccer Club. I mentor with Mike Linnane and Mark Sheridan at the local Ennistymon CoderDojo group too. The idea for the app came to me because, as a coach, I can say to a player that he is not playing well but he may feel he is doing his best. I need the statistics to back it up,” he explained.

“Not all passes are the same,” said Mr Crowe and this is the key point of his app.

“The idea of the app is to score the skill the players use on the football pitch or the basketball court or the hockey rink. It doesn’t just apply to soccer, Gaelic or hurling. It is customisable for all those sports. You put in a different background and enter the player’s details and the details of the game and you are good to go,” he outlined.

Mr Crowe was frustrated watching sports on the television where statistics were spewed about passes completed, where the quality and circumstances of the pass were not taken into account. So he got to work designing an app interface and made contact with development companies.

“From being a player, I know what a simple pass is and what a difficult one is. A simple one is where the player is under no pressure and that would get a score of one. When a player is under pressure passing the ball that might be rated two and so on. A four would be, say, what people would describe as a brilliant pass and a five would be something really extraordinary. This allows you to see which players do a number of simple passes, one who makes the passes under pressure, then the people who get lots of threes and then the ones who are really something special. All this information means you can tailor training sessions to the individual needs of players. It is not just passing; the app also measures shooting, winning possession, losing possession, running with the ball and so on,” he outlined.

Eddie Crowe

After developing it, Mr Crowe uploaded it to iTunes “to get a feel for what people thought of it”.

“Then a senior scout from the Premiership contacted me saying that they have been scouting for years using notepads. They keep files on players when scouting and if a club comes looking for a good mid-fielder, say, they go through the files and the various details. I have turned that into electronic format.

“After a game is finished, you can upload it to Dropbox. They felt it was perfect for what they were doing and wanted to buy it but I didn’t want to go down that route because, for the ordinary coach on the sideline, there is a lot in this app that would help him and that is what I wanted, rather than selling it off to them and probably not being able to use it again because they would have the licence,” he said.

Mr Crowe is hoping to develop a Sport Tagging app for fans, where they would be the ones doing the rating and would communicate the ratings through social media. He is hoping that, at that point, it will begin to generate revenue through sponsorship and advertising.

“You could be standing in Cusack Park watching Clare versus Galway and you could rate Podge Collins or Colin Ryan, or whoever. Then you hit the Tweet button and it will say ‘Clare V Galway – Colin Ryan’ and his Sport Tagger score. It is creating a cumulative score for the player but different people could give players different ratings, so it brings in debate and banter between fans,” he explained.

The Sports Technology Awards takes place in London next month and Sport Tagger is shortlisted in two categories. The judging panel includes Rugby World Cup-winning coach, Sir Clive Woodward; the FA’s head of performance services, Dave Reddin, and British Olympic gold medallist, Tessa Sanderson, as well as representatives from digital brands such as Twitter, BT and the BBC.

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