John Iga: Trying to 'out-smart and out-think' rivals at Norwich
Written by Training Ground Guru — September 15, 2021
JOHN IGA says his new role as Norwich City’s Head of Data, Strategy and Innovation is about “trying to out-smart and out-think" wealthier opponents in the Premier League.
The highly-experienced practitioner, who was Head of Sport Science at the Football Association from 2012 to 2016, took on the newly-created role with the Canaries at the start of June.
He told the club’s official website: “The key focus is really bringing together our data strategy and innovative activity across the club, from the first team right the way down to the Academy; delving deeper, understanding what we’re doing at present and trying to find ways to leverage advantages to help the teams and players develop in accordance.
“I would say it’s about trying to out-smart our opponents and really out-think them to give advantages that can help us achieve our goals. As a club, we are different to our Premier League rivals.
"They have different ways in which they can find solutions, perhaps spend more money. The way we are structured, what goes in has to be effectively spent, to try and make sure the club stays in the Premier League and we produce a pipeline of young players to be in our first team.
“By identifying areas whereby we can leverage advantage and aggregating those small advantages gives us the opportunity to be even more competitive.”
Norwich have landed a leader with a very impressive CV. From 2008 to 2012, Iga was Head of Academy Sport Science and Medicine at Wolves, during which time “we designed and implemented a performance lab - the first in the UK.”
In 2012, he moved to the FA as Head of Sport Science, working “across all 24 national teams on both the men’s and women’s pathway… making sure activity was evidence-based, contemporary and innovative.”
His most recent role was as Head of Performance Services at Huddersfield Town, from 2016 to 2020, which involved “co-ordinating sport science, medical, physio, nutrition, soft tissue programmes across all the teams.”
One of the areas in which Norwich are trying to gain an advantage over rivals is in the design of their kit, Iga said. The club recently signed a five-year deal with supplier JOMA, which begins this season.
"Some of the activities we are undertaking with colleagues like JOMA (are) looking at how we can really leverage marginal gains," said Iga, speaking from JOMA’s headquarters in Portillo de Toledo in Spain.
“I’m really excited by this relationship and what it offers us in terms of opportunities to move forward together. For us to work together to design, innovate, develop products that are ideal for us.
"(I'm) anticipating some good work there in terms of R&D, really unpacking the design of training kits, for example, and producing shirts and other sporting apparel that help us to develop and gain more advantages against our competitors.”