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.”

Russia announces testing of country-wide drone control network, paving way for commercial boom

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, has announced that it will begin testing a vast drone control network that will run across the nation.

The network, which is based on the country’s extensive existing satellite system, will allow small UAVs to safely operate in massive numbers within Russian airspace.

Once established, it will likely lead to an explosion in the commercial use of drones in the country, with drone deliveries in particular becoming viable on an unprecedented scale.

The announcement was made at Navitech 2017 in Moscow yesterday by experts from Russian Space Systems, a space hardware company owned by Roscosmos. Outlining the details of the system, they said that testing would begin this year, but did not provide a precise date for its start.

Each drone in the network will follow a route determined by the system, with ground-based infrastructure continuously receiving real-time data about its location and flight parameters.

This will immediately be processed and disseminated across the network, to ensure that large numbers of drones can be safely flown at any time, without interfering with both each other and traditional airspace traffic.

The network will not require the establishment of major new infrastructure, as all data will be transmitted through a combination of existing systems: FM transmitters, the country’s established cellular communication systems and GLONASS, Russia’s global satellite navigation system, which has provided 100% coverage of the country since 2011.

The system will also provide real-time data about no-fly zones, allowing routes to be adjusted immediately in response to changing information, and will offer a “platform of integrated applications” to UAV operators, content providers and insurance companies.

Roscosmos believes that the system will significantly reduce operating costs for drone owners by limiting the risks involved with running a commercial drone operation, as well as creating the conditions for new industries to emerge.

Among the industries the space agency expects to blossom through the adoption of the network are drone insurance, cloud software that would increase the capabilities of drones and what it calls “convenient services” – a term that likely refers to drone deliveries.

If the platform does deliver on this hope, it is likely Russia would become the first country with an extensive drone delivery network, realising a dream that was first brought to prominence by Amazon back in 2013. However, the US-based company is unlikely to become the main player in the Russian market, having as yet shown little interest in the country for its Prime Air operations.

As with many countries, drone deliveries are currently a rare occurrence in Russia, with notable exceptions including DoDo Pizza, a Syktyvkar-based company that began delivering pizzas to local residents back in 2014.

NFL players’ union signs historic deal that will enable players to sell their own performance data and make them “healthier and wealthier”

The NFL players association (NFLPA) has signed a landmark deal with human performance company WHOOP that will give players access to, ownership of and the option to sell their individual health data.

All current and future NFL players will be issued with a WHOOP Strap 2.0, which allows them to, without interference from their clubs, monitor their own performance, recovery and sleep.

WHOOP’s strap contains five sensors that measure data 100 times per second and automatically transmit it to accompanying mobile and web apps. WHOOP has also developed a Team Dashboard, which it says has “27 levels of privacy to ensure sharing data is completely secure and comfortable for all parties involved”.

“Our mission at WHOOP is to empower athletes. This partnership with the NFLPA is truly the first of its kind in that athletes will finally become both healthier and wealthier by collecting, controlling, and ultimately having the ability to sell their own health and performance data,” said Will Ahmed, founder and CEO at WHOOP.

“We applaud the NFLPA’s vision and share its commitment to work with athletes to better monitor their recovery and enable longer careers.”

Image and featured image courtesy of Alan Kotok

The partnership between the NFLPA and WHOOP is the first of its kind and was secured through the OneTeam Collective, which is an initiative designed to give companies like WHOOP the opportunity to leverage the NFLPA’s exclusive player rights.

WHOOP has hinted at seeking further partnerships with players’ unions in future.

In addition to owning their own data, as part of the agreement NFL players can design custom licensed bands for the WHOOP Strap, which will be made available commercially and allow players to further monetise the arrangement between the two parties.

“Every day, NFL players produce data that can translate into physiological and financial opportunities. We see partnering with WHOOP as the first step in harnessing this exciting technology,” said Ahmad Nassar, President of NFL Players Inc.

“We are excited to have WHOOP and its innovative, holistic monitoring technology serve as our first OneTeam Collective deal. Together, we’re paving the way towards a new frontier where athletes are empowered by data.”

Russell Okung playing for the Denver Broncos in 2016. Image courtesy of By Jeffrey Beall – Own work, CC BY 4.0

Along with the commercial opportunities WHOOP will offer players, the partnership also promises to help players optimise training and recovery, improve performance and reduce injuries.

The NFLPA and WHOOP will both study the effects travel, sleep, scheduling and injuries have on recovery and generate reports for players aimed at boosting athletic performance.

“WHOOP and the NFLPA are putting the power of data directly in the players’ hands. I want to recover faster, avoid injuries, and have a longer career. This partnership has the potential to contribute to my health, which is imperative to my career in football,” said Russell Okung of the Los Angeles Chargers.