Filming sport in schools has forever been a frustrating experience. Teachers, heads of sport, examiners, students, and parents have all felt the pain of watching back footage from an inexperienced, volunteer camera operator, shaking and shuddering through 90 minutes of unappealing, eye-level action. The lack of video footage available to learners has consistently hindered the sporting development of talented athletes, looking for scholarships abroad or even professional opportunities after education.
This annoyance was felt by none more so than the Independent School Football Association’s head coach, Jono Santry. In recent years, the likes of Tyrone Mings, Calum Hudson-Odoi and Fraser Forster have passed through the programme and gone on to play international football. Always looking to raise the standards of his set-ups, Santry struggled to find a solution not only at ISFA, but at his own school, City of London. A new Danish product, Veo, became available in the UK in 2019 and changed everything. Veo’s solution comprised a mounted AI camera, which captures the game unmanned by intelligently tracking the ball, before its accompanying software platform turns around quick footage for analysis after a session.
“Veo has literally transformed our football programme,” said Santry. “For years we have been searching for a solution to video matches, tag events, analyse the footage, and share with the staff and players. I had given up on finding a one-fits-all solution that was both affordable and not reliant upon having staff to film, edit and produce the footage.”
Over the past year, Veo have seen a remarkable increase of popularity within the scholastic market. Over 200 schools in the UK have taken on the solution, battling age-old budget limitations that have frequently challenged sports departments all over the country. The ability to record and analyse invasion sports automatically has given both teachers, students, and parents refreshing new access to learner development. Teachers are now able to share footage with pupils and expose them to a level of self-assessment more common in higher education, while parents can now be engaged as the recordings can be shared.
Chris Hogg, Director of Sport for Torquay Academy talks about the ease and benefits of using the system in and out of the learning environment:
“It has benefited our players and coaches by allowing our games to be filmed in all weathers, without the need for a camera operator. The set-up is so simple and you can easily do two games back to back on one charge. Once the video has been clipped by the Veo robots, you can share the game or highlights with all parents and players. This has been an amazing option for at-home analysis for players on their phones or laptops which is a huge help with everyone’s busy schedules.”
The COVID-19 climate has posed complications across the curriculum. With sport, this year has been particularly challenging to keep pupils engaged in their physical endeavours during a time when they weren’t allowed on the pitch. The technology has provided something of a lifeline for this quandary, enabling students to digitally engage with themselves, self-assess and develop using the online capabilities of the analysis platform.
Jamie Harrison at Gordon’s School in Surrey, one of the earliest adopters of Veo, has developed four defined use-cases for the systems.
“We use Veo in four key ways: performance analysis, academically for exam moderators and self- analysis, coaching CPD, and community moments. It’s easy to assemble, and when the students see it go up, they know straight away that they are being filmed which drives them to strive to perform better.”
The opportunity video gives students beyond school and college is another prime reason for the heavy adoption across the market. Park View Academy in County Durham is arguably one of the strongest further education academies in England, having consistently produced footballers that go on to sign professionally and semi-professionally at clubs, providing a much-needed pathway for talented athletes to develop and thrive. This is highlighted in the story of Trey Wade, a U.S.-born footballer who recently signed with Italian club A.C. Chievo Verona. He and Park View used Veo to highlight aspects of his game and send out to potential scouts. Trey was subsequently signed by the Serie B outfit in January 2020.
School sport across the state and private sectors is fast becoming an equipment arms race, and victory is vital for recruitment and the retention of students. Gone are the days of misshapen cones, sloping mud-bath pitches and ill-fitting sports kits. Turn up to a school football match now and you are likely to see a UEFA-licensed coach leading a professionally structured warm-up, the outline of a GPS-tracking sports vest underneath each perfectly fitted football shirt, and an AI camera towering above the pitch to capture every moment. Times have changed, and solutions like Veo are making these developments available to sports departments around the country.
Oli Perkins is UK market manager at Veo, a global leader in AI-powered sports recording and analysis