Luis Figo launches app to unearth the world’s hidden footballing talents

Luis Figo, the former Portuguese international footballer and Ballon d’Or winner, has launched an app that will allow children who dream of becoming professional footballers to upload footage of their skills, be critiqued by professional players and potentially even be scouted by clubs.

The app, named Dream Football, launched today for iOS and Android and is available worldwide for both boys and girls to use.

“Dream football is a global digital platform that promotes equal opportunities for young talents worldwide,” explained Dream Football co-founder João Guerra in a press conference held today at Web Summit in Lisbon. “Any talent, anywhere in the world, can record, edit and upload videos from a mobile phone; show himself; promote himself; get feedback from professionals like Luis Figo and get scouted by clubs.”

“I think we could be very useful for people who work in scouting world,” added Figo. “Our idea is to create the quality of opportunities for all the kids that love football and want to follow the dream of being a professional one day. I think with this app they can show their talent; they can be close to the clubs we have in partnership and give them an opportunity to one day be a professional at this club.”

Luis Figo with Dream Football co-founder João Guerra at Web Summit today

Luis Figo with Dream Football co-founder João Guerra at Web Summit today

It is hoped that the app will allow children in areas without established scouting networks to be discovered for the first time, significantly widening the pool of potential professional footballers.

“It’s taking the opportunities to countries where kids never have the opportunity because nobody is scouting there, and in some countries even though somebody is scouting in the main cities, they’re not in the [rural areas],” explained Guerra.

“I come from the grassroots – that’s how I started my career – and I know how important it is to find the right tools that allow kids to achieve their dreams,” agreed Figo. “The power goes in the hands of the kid, because the kid with a mobile phone immediately can record, edit and start getting feedback and getting promoted with clubs.

“Basically what we want is to create success stories for everybody, everywhere in the world.”

Image and featured image courtesy of Web Summit

Image and featured image courtesy of Web Summit

The app is free to use both by would-be players and clubs, with some teams already signed up, and Guerra has said that the company “will be searching and offering ways for the kids to receive something back from their participation”.

“This project was started five years ago, and the first goal we had was to be useful for the kids because I love football, I have the passion of football, but of course on the other hand this is a business right now that is for free, we don’t have any kind of revenue at this moment,” added Figo.

In the long term, however, the app will be funded through commercial partnerships.

“We do plan to earn money and most of it will come from advertising, sponsorship, all those areas,” explained Guerra. “We’re focused on getting 100 million users very quickly, so growing very quickly, and then all the rest is taken care of.”

New study concludes you can’t throw tech at your fitness problems and hope weight doesn’t stick

Fitness trackers have gone from gadgets targeted at serious athletes to appendages that monitor, manage and cajole even uninitiated sportspeople.

But a new study by the University of Pittsburgh Department of Health and Physical Activity has concluded that commercially available activity trackers are no substitute for traditional weight loss approaches, like talking about physical activity and diet with likeminded people and professionals.

“While usage of wearable devices is currently a popular method to track physical activity our findings show that adding them to behavioural counselling weight loss that includes physical activity and reduced calorie intake does not improve weight loss or physical activity engagement,” said the study’s lead researcher and chair of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Health and Physical Activity, John Jakicic.

“These devices should not be relied upon as tools for weight management in place of effective behavioural counselling for physical activity and diet.”

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For the study, Dr Jakicic monitored 470 people aged between 18 and 35, each of whom were classified as overweight at the beginning of the trial.

For the first 6 months all participants were placed on low-calorie diets, prescribed increases in physical activity and received group-counseling sessions on health and nutrition.

After 6 months participants were divided into two subgroups: one that continued with health-counselling sessions on a monthly basis and another that received a wearable device to monitor diet and physical activity.

The tracking device used within the study was to be worn on the upper arm and provided feedback on energy expenditure and physical activity.

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Over the course of the next 18 months, both groups showed significant improvements in body composition, fitness, physical activity and diet, but those who received health counselling throughout the study lost nearly twice as much weight as those who used wearable devices for three-quarters of it.

Participants who used wearable devices reported an average weight loss of 7.7 pounds, while those who partook only in health counseling reported an average loss of 13 pounds.

“The findings of our study are important because effective long-term treatments are needed to address America’s obesity epidemic,” said Jakicic. “We’ve found that questions remain regarding the effectiveness of wearable devices and how to best use them to modify physical activity and diet behaviors in adults seeking weight loss.”