"Der Standard" Article - zone14

Viennese start-up Zone14 brings artificial intelligence to amateur football

Football without video analysis is no longer imaginable these days. The young company Zone14 wants to make it easier for amateurs to access the valuable data.

Laptop coaches or going by gut feeling - for a long time there was only either-or in football. Without a laptop, i.e. video analysis and data processing, nothing works in modern football. 22 people run for 90 minutes, so good analyses are correspondingly time-consuming and cost-intensive. Professional clubs have the budget to buy in data, but in amateur football, the situation is usually different. There is still a lot of manual work here.

The Viennese start-up Zone14 recently launched a system called Replay, which also makes this material relatively easily accessible to amateur teams with the help of artificial intelligence.

The football camera system

How does it work? The system consists of two cameras and is easy to install yourself. Via a box connected to the internet, the recorded videos are directly uploaded to a cloud where they are processed and available to the club the next day. Games and training sessions can then be analysed online in a separate program.

Since this year, Zone14 analyses the matches of the Wiener Sportklub. Here the Dornbachers defeated Wiener Viktoria 8:1.

"Our algorithm lays a net over the pitch and recognises players based on features such as hairstyle, shoes, shirt number and movement patterns," says company co-founder Lukas Grömer in an interview with the STANDARD. The algorithm recognises running performance, player positions and movement patterns. In a next "timely step", the algorithm will evaluate passes, shots, corner kicks and duel statistics.

Sportclub and Austria

Six clubs are already using Replay. Four of them play in the lower divisions, but the customer list also includes two prominent names, Wiener Sportclub and Austria Vienna. The Violets clearly have their own camera system, while Zone 14 acts more as a development partner for player tracking and visualisation.

"Such systems are becoming more and more popular, even in the very lower leagues," says Sportclub coach Robert Weinstabl to the STANDARD. "Players are also asking for video footage more and more often, they want to analyse themselves." By means of an app, important situations such as attacks, counter-attacks or set-pieces can be noted during the game, which are then collected in a playlist.

Weinstabl himself picks out six to eight scenes per game, which he goes through with the team after a match. The Zone14 system saves him time and spits out a lot of valuable material.

It is also essential for coaches to know what happens far off the ball and how players move,

The Sportclub plays in the Regionalliga East, Weinstabl coaches the club full-time - which is rather unusual for a regional league coach. He is in a privileged situation in this respect, but saving time and money on video analyses would be good for the whole league. Zone 14 charges a monthly fee of 119 euros.

Volleyball and Zoo

Football is understandably the most attractive market for a start-up like Zone14, but the three founders Lukas Grömer (32), Simon Schmiderer (27) and Tobias Gahleitner (24), originally from Upper Austria, are also flirting with other sports. "Handball or volleyball would make sense. In areas like retail, the system could be used, but we don't want that. On the football pitch, the players benefit from our data; people shopping don't want to be tracked," says Simon Schmiderer. But one option would also be to film animals in the zoo and find out how much they are on the move.

The young company, which was founded this year, has so far received financial support from the state development bank AWS. The camera system and the algorithm were developed in the First Incubator Programme, and now the bank is supporting Zone14 as part of the "Trustworthy AI" programme. The programme lasts eight to twelve months, during which certain milestones must be reached. The maximum funding amount is 200,000 euros, regardless of the company.

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