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The FA signs Google Cloud to support cloud-based push to make football more inclusive

The Football Association is on a mission to up female participation in the sport and make it more accessible to a larger number of fans, and it is teaming up with Google Cloud to achieve its goals

The Football Association (FA) of England has revealed details of how its cloud-focused technology tie-up with Google is supporting its push to make the sport more inclusive and diverse.

The FA has made Google the official cloud and data analytics partner for the 28 national teams it oversees the management of, and for the St George’s Park national football centre in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire.

The multi-year partnership has already seen the organisation adopt the G-Suite portfolio of online productivity tools to bolster collaboration between the Football Association’s coaches and their teams, as well as its geographically dispersed team of support workers.

“The first step in our transformation at St. George’s Park was to unify the way our coaches train and develop our 28 national teams to increase productivity,” said FA CIO Craig Donald, in a blog post announcing the partnership.

“We needed the ability to collaborate and share across the coaches and team managers. G-Suite allowed us to do that and was the first part of our Google Cloud partnership.”

The FA also has designs on digging into Google Cloud’s portfolio of machine learning, and data analytics and processing tools to help support its ongoing efforts to make football a more diverse and inclusive game.

The latter is a core part of the FA’s 2020 strategy, which aims to double the size of female participation in the game, bolster fan engagement levels using technology and put both the men and women’s senior England teams on a path to win in their respective World Cup Championships in 2022 and 2023.

“Using Google Cloud technology, we will work together to help the FA solve these big challenges using our smart analytics tools combined with our unique capabilities in machine learning and AI,” said the FA, in the blog post.

“The FA have many terabytes of data stored within Google Cloud that the FA’s analysis teams will use alongside Google Cloud products such as BigQuery to extract relevant information for the teams at St. George’s Park.”

The data will be fed into a proprietary tool the FA has already created to run on Google Cloud called the Player Profile System (PPS), which is used to benchmark the performance, fitness, training regimes and form of all the players on the Football Association’s books.

In time, it is hoped the PPS will be able to generate real-time data insights for the FA’s management team and coaches so that they can make data-driven changes during matches to boost their chances of winning.

Dave Reddin, head of team strategy and performance at the FA, said the partnership is proof of the organisation’s conviction that technology has an important role to play in securing teams a competitive advantage when on the pitch.

“We have progressively built a systematic approach to developing winning England teams, and through the support of Google Cloud technology we wish to accelerate our ability to translate insight and learning into performance improvements,” he said.

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