Final-year students from NIT Rourkela win global football hackathon

Organised by FC Bengaluru United & Sevilla FC, the first-of-its-kind football hackathon saw participation from over 12 countries with maximum representation from India

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Bengaluru: Alyal Samal and Ashis Kumar Parida, final-year B.Tech students at NIT Rourkela, Odisha have been declared the global winners in the ‘Football Hackathon– Data-Driven Players Performance Assessment’. In addition, the team formed by graduated Andalusian engineers and mathematicians Alvaro Beltran, Sergio Cabezas, and Francisco Ruiz obtained the highest score among the participants from Spain.

The hackathon, held in early June, was organised by FC Bengaluru United, one of India’s most exciting young football clubs, and their international partner, Spanish footballing giant Sevilla FC. A global-first initiative jointly hosted by two football clubs, the hackathon presented a unique opportunity to effectively use data science in the space of professional football scouting and player performance analysis.

Sevilla FC together with FC Bengaluru United gave participants access to one of the largest proprietary scouting datasets in the world- physical, contextual, kinematical, technical, and tactical oriented data related to the players, team, and their opponents.

The hackathon’s goal was to leverage this data as a strategic asset to create an algorithm to help break down, understand, and evaluate player performance with the ultimate goal of enhancing the quality of both the Sevilla FC and FC Bengaluru United squads. The online Hackathon was launched on the 10th of June in Bengaluru by the leadership team of Sevilla FC and FC Bengaluru United, during the Spanish club’s inaugural visit to India.

A total of 4695 teams from across the globe registered for the three-day hackathon, with maximum participation from India. Participants from Spain, Nigeria, USA, Britain, Germany, Canada, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Brazil, France and Kenya were also part of the competition. Living up to its sobriquet of the ‘Tech Capital of India’, Bengaluru had the highest participation from India, while seven Indian teams featured in the global top 10.

Expressing their excitement over winning the Hackathon, Ashis pursuing his biomedical engineering said, “Both Alyal and I are huge fans of football. And on top of that, it was a competition organized by FC Bengaluru United and Sevilla FC, both prominent football clubs. I strongly feel that this kind of collaboration between European football clubs and India will provide new global opportunities and tech challenges for experts in India and around the world. This will lead to the evolution of new ideas in this particular domain. And we all knew that when talent meets opportunities, great results are inevitable.”

Talking about the uniqueness of this hackathon, Alyal, who is from the metallurgical and materials science department at NIT Rourkela added, “This hackathon was unique in that it had some constraints related to feature engineering within which we had to work’ we also had several features to work upon with those constraints. We learned various new techniques to deal with this kind of problem statement.”

Expressing his delight over the success of this football hackathon, Gaurav Manchanda, Owner, FC Bengaluru United said, “We were truly amazed at the interest shown in the Hackathon, both in India and globally. The use of data analytics to provide nuanced insights is gaining prominence in sports and football is no exception. Football is a game that arouses tremendous passion, and to see that fervour married with technical ingenuity as part of a genuine interest in providing data-related solutions was truly enlightening to see. One of our long-term partnership goals with Sevilla FC is to work on projects that address technological innovation and the Hackathon was in perfect alignment with that.  India lived up to its reputation as the global tech capital and you can be sure there will definitely be more such Hackathons organised by FC Bengaluru United and Sevilla FC in the near future.”

Adding to Gaurav’s views, Dr. Elías Zamora, Chief Data Officer, Sevilla FC stated: “The participants in the Hackathon have developed machine learning algorithms that have helped us to gain a better insight into the key factors that influence our scouts when they evaluate players from different positions. A well-defined spectrum of position-dependent contextual, physical, kinematical, and crucial actions explains to a certain extent the opinion of our football experts on the performance of a given player. The results obtained in the Hackathon have truly fueled the research line of our department oriented towards the identification of the fundamental performance components of football players. I really believe that the knowledge created during this event will have an impact on the squad conformation of Sevilla FC in the next seasons”.

About Nimida Sports: Nimida Sports is the sports arm of the Nimida Group. Nimida Sports was set up in 2019 with a focus on developing sporting talent via a grassroots structure and providing a defined progression pathway for a sports person onto the national stage. With an emphasis on team sports such as Football, Hockey, Cricket and Basketball the company has set up academies and teams in Bengaluru, centered around local player development programs. The goal is to ensure the best that come through will be on par with the best in the country. The group owns Football Club Bengaluru United that competes in the I-League 2nd Division.

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