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Interview

Best of Swiss App Award

“It's all about how much a trainer listens”


FC Basel won the Best of Swiss Apps in the Enterprise category with its new talent app Gold. Whether the app makes the young players better is something Massimo Ceccaroni, Technical Manager for Basel New Talent, well knows.


Tanja Kammermann, 6




Massimo Ceccaroni, FC Basel has recorded all performance data from the up-and-coming players in a database and can call this up on a mobile device. This solution won them the award for the best company app of the year. What does this award mean to you?


Massimo Ceccaroni: I think it's great we won and I'm really proud of the prize. Also because we could cause a stir in an area that's not actually our core business.


Were you also congratulated by the football world?


Unfortunately not so far. We've only had the pleasure of being congratulated from inside the club .


The application makes your work more professional. You gave the go-ahead for the app last year. Why not earlier?


We've needed to tackle this project for a long time. Yet there aren't many football clubs, two or three in Europe, that have got so far. But we wanted to be better, that's why we had to start using our data and so take this step. Plus an app costs money and needs the right partner – which we've luckily found with Swisscom.




Who are the European role models?


These are Borussia Dortmund and Redbull Leipzig in Germany along with Juventus Turin in Italy – teams that take a very scientific approach to their work and have a lot of know-how, allowing them to operate very professionally when it comes to new talent. However, we wanted to keep our identity, as we have our own training philosophy. As a result, we've got something totally new up and running.


The app has been in use since the early summer of 2016. Were you already able to implement improvements in the aspects of play?


The app makes our daily work much easier. We're able to work more efficiently with a keener eye on the target. And what is important: We're more aware of the pressure on young players. We always have a session to analyse the performance at the end of the week, before the competition starts. Thanks to the data we've been able to gain and display in the app, we're able to say which players are fit or not. Whether he plays is still the trainer's decision though (grinning). But we've got a very good basis.


The objective data is now available, followed by the subjective feeling of the trainer. How much does that cover?


It's all about how much a trainer listens. There's the laptop trainer and the conventional trainer, who likes to feel the pitch beneath his feet. The modern trainer, who also likes playing with data, maybe listens about 20 percent. The traditional trainer, who polishes his own shoes, listens 10 percent…

Massimo Ceccaroni

The 48-year-old Massimo Ceccaroni is a native of Basel and former professional football player; he spent his entire professional career from 1987 to 2002 at FC Basel. Since 2012, he has been Technical Manager for the New Talent Department at FC Basel, which, incidentally like the first team, is the most successful in Switzerland.


So even less?


JYeah, even less (laughing) – working with data is something new for him and he takes a lot of convincing. The great thing is that trainers share a lot among each other and it's there that the sceptics – and we don't have many of them – also notice how this knowledge makes things better. Which means the 10 percent quickly rises to 20 percent.


"Individual responsibility via new media – the app lets us take the young players seriously.”

 


So the new talent at FC Basel has got better thanks to the solution?


No, you can't put it like that. Every trainer has a broader spectrum of knowledge to hand thanks to the app, allowing him to extend his expertise and helping him to think in a more sophisticated way. The trainers used to make their decisions 100 percent subjectively. Now the facts come into play and they show things just how they are.


How do the young players respond to the app?


Mobile phones used to be banned in the dressing room – that's no longer the case. Now players can click on their strain on the smartphone before and after the training. Individual responsibility via new media – the app lets us take the young players seriously too. Nowadays we can't simply establish a football academy and train the young players like 40 years ago – nobody will become a footballer there.


Why doesn't every Swiss football club have such an app?


That's just a matter of time, and clubs that have the opportunity will quickly follow suit.


Do you intend to resell the app?


FC Basel has the rights to the app, that's something we've clearly regulated because we already noticed during the development: something interesting is happening. I don't think it will take much longer before we receive enquiries here. Because both team and individual sportsmen and women can benefit from the app.



Der FC Basel mit Massimo Ceccaroni und das Swisscom Projektteam feiern den Sieg.

Massimo Ceccaroni and the Swisscom Project Team.


Are there further digitalisation projects at FC Basel?


No, we were totally absorbed with the app and noticed how it's very important that people can get to grips with this. We want to correctly apply what we have, gain experience and then take the next step.


Would you have liked such an app when you were still a professional footballer?


Yes and no. It makes you better, but it's also a lot for the young players to cope with – they have to think before training and then again after the training. In the past, you simply put your football boots on and walked onto the pitch.





The app


Together with Swisscom, FCB has developed a digital solution for its up-and-coming players in a co-creation approach. This comprises three main components: a smartphone app for players (iOS and Android), a tablet app for trainers and physiotherapist (iOS) as well as a web application for Administration and Management. This makes things easier for trainers, physiotherapists, doctors, administrators and, of course, players. The basic idea behind this: all performance data for the young players is recorded in a uniform database and can be called up on a mobile device at the click of a button. FCB has a fully developed ecosystem with the apps.


App development


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