Big Data Conference: Meet the Speakers

IN April, the legendary Sevilla Sporting Director Monchi said “Big Data is the future of football”.

“More than scouts, we have started looking for engineers, mathematicians, physicists and experts in statistics or algorithms,” the Spaniard explained.

Data science is THE growth area in football, yet also one of the least understood. That’s what we will try to rectify at this special event, by finding out what top Premier League and international teams are doing in terms of data, direct from the experts who are doing it.

A key focus will be how you turn the huge amount of data that is collected into meaningful insights.

This one-day event is being held at Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground on Friday November 22nd from 09:30 to 18:00. Here are pen pics of our speakers:

Paul Balsom (Head of Performance Innovation, Leicester City FC)

One of the most experienced practitioners in European football. Paul has worked for Leicester City for eight years, including when they won the Premier League title in 2015/16. He is also Performance Manager at the Swedish FA and Head of Performance Innovation for Belgian side Leuven. Paul has a particular interest in how data science can drive performance.

Luke Benstead (Head of Performance Analysis and Innovation, Belgium)

Luke has worked for the Royal Belgium Football Association since the 2018 World Cup, when they reached the semi-final. Prior to this he was a first-team analyst with Manchester United and Everton. He works closely with national men's manager Roberto Martinez and also oversees analysis for all national teams.

Mladen Sormaz (Head of Football Analytics, Leicester City FC)

Appointed to this new role at Leicester City in April, tasked with providing “data driven insights into performance, recruitment, sports science and medical.” Mladen was previously first team data analyst at Huddersfield.

Mikhail Zhilkin (Data Scientist, Arsenal FC)

A graduate of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, who joined Arsenal last July. Mikhail helped launch two of the most successful Candy Crush games when he worked for King.com before moving into football.

Alex Thomas (Data scientist, Football Association)

Alex started his football career as a performance analyst at Swansea City in 2013. He progressed to data scientist, managing player data and developing bespoke computer science solutions. For the last two years, he has been a data scientist at the Football Association, working across the national teams.

Bikash Deb (Data analyst, Football Association) 

Worked for Leicester Tigers rugby and Southampton FC before joining the Football Association this summer.

Ed Sulley (Director of Customer Solutions, Hudl)

Ed has been at the forefront of UK football analysis for almost two decades. For seven years, he was Head of Performance Analysis for Bolton Wanderers, before joining Manchester City in 2008. During a transformative period for the club, he held roles including Head of Performance Analysis and Head of Research and Innovation. In July 2019, Ed was appointed Director of Customer Solutions for Hudl.

Austin Fuller (Senior Strategic Consultant, Hudl)

Austin worked as a performance analyst for the Rugby Football Union for six and a half years before joining the Football Association as Analysis and Insights Lead in April 2015. He is now a Senior Strategic Consultant for Hudl.

Tom Worville (Senior Data Analyst, Opta)

Tom has spent his career analysing advanced data in football and is well known for his blogs and visualisations on the subject. Was a data scientist with Opta for two and a half years before being appointed as their Senior Data Analyst in January 2019.

Jens Fjellström (Sportlogiq & Denmark FA)

Jens is a former Sweden international midfielder and was assistant manager with Malmö for three years from 2016. Now works for Sportlogiq, who are applying artificial intelligence technology and advanced analytics to sport.

Jeff Weigh (Facilitator/ host)

Jeff is the Managing Director of Ignite Performance Coaching, a learning and development consultancy. He is an experienced writer, speaker and facilitator and hosted Training Ground Guru's Youth Development Conference in June 2019.

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