A Fra Mauro kind of week

Fra Mauro was a cartographer. He lived in the Republic of Venice in the fifteenth century.

I found out about him in James Cowan’s (1997) A Mapmaker’s Dream. In that account, Fra Mauro welcomed visitors from all over the world in his monastery and used their news to develop his map of the world.

I loved the idea that he could be in Venice and yet be connected with voyages of discovery and established trade routes.

I had a Fra Mauro feeling this week in rural New South Wales. Social media, particularly Twitter, brought me news of adventures elsewhere.

Jacquie Tran was on her way to a Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand conference:

Javier Fernandez was at a conference:

Mark Upton was writing about returning ‘home’ in South Australia after all his travels. In his discussion of living in fellowship he wrote “We DO need to balance and share power by exploring the dynamic interaction of leadership and followship” (original emphasis).

By serendipity, I met Jo Gibson, who lives just 50 kms away. Jo is researching leadership and followership in the dynamic way that Mark advocates. I have the good fortune to be her PhD supervisor.

I ended my week, delighted in reading a quote from Albert Mundet far away in Spain: “We compete in the short term, but we may cooperate at longer term”.

From a Fra Mauro perspective, this sharing is immensely powerful.

For many years, I have hoped that open sharing is the new competitive edge and that through sharing we transform sport in the ways that about which Mark Upton and his colleagues write so eloquently and has been demonstrated so well in New Zealand and Spain this week.

Photo Credit

Venezia (Roberto Defilipi, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Those left

The date 11 November has added poignancy in my family.

In addition to our family history in the First World War, it is the day thirty-six years ago that my brother, John, died.

John was a professional footballer at the time of his death. He was 26 years old.

His decision to take his own life has affected my actions ever since that day. It has connected me with the loss others feel on this day … and every day.

Since John’s death there have been many cases of professional sport people taking their own lives. These are just a very small part of the enormity of suicide deaths in society.

In recent years, I have been struck by the growing research into players’ well being and I have been following research in Germany. I thought Ronald Reng’s biography of Robert Enke (2011), A Life Too Short, was a very important contribution to this conversation. Robert died on 10 November 2009.

Ronald’s book was awarded the sports book of the year.  Rob Bagchi said of this award:

Two of the previous three winners of sports publishing’s oldest and richest prize, Marcus Trescothick’s Coming Back to Me and Brian Moore’s Beware of the Dog, were fearless accounts of the ravages that self-doubt and depression can wreak on elite sportsmen. Reng’s acutely observed book completes a trilogy of required reading not only for those who have been flippant and unsympathetic to the issue of mental health among well‑rewarded professionals in the past.

Ronald made a very significant point about Robert … “the friendships he struck had clear boundaries and no one, apart from his family, knew of the turmoil he suffered”.

In my brother’s case we had no indication whatsoever of any depression issues. Thirty-six years is a long time for retrospection, dealing with a sense of guilt and the bereftness of loss.

So 11 November is one of those days when those left reflect. John was 26 when he died. In my small town of Braidwood, New South Wales, we will be remembering 88 loved ones who left for the Great War from a rural community and did not return. They lie in foreign fields. Most of them were considerably younger than, John and Robert.  All 90 were profoundly loved.

Photo Credits

Pictures of John and Robert from Wikipedia.

A Head of Football Analytics

Earlier this year, the canoe slalom program in Great Britain advertised for a performance data analyst.

I though this marked a fascinating change in the sport and underscored for me the opportunities that are now appearing in sport that signal a fundamental shift in how learning journeys are being experienced in industry and in education systems.

This week, Leicester City are adding to this momentum with the advertisement of a Head of Football Analytics opportunity. I hoped the club would extend its expertise in an area they energised with their Tactical Insights Day in 2016.

The Role

  • Produce unique and insightful performance metrics and analysis, using data modelling.
  • Ensure that existing and new databases are maintained and updated promptly.
  • Collaborate with appropriate members of staff at the club, and develop strategies to raise the overall levels of data literacy, analysis and visualisation.
  • Develop the integrated, club-wide approach to providing data driven insights for performance evaluation, player recruitment, sports science and medical aspects of the club.
  • Pro-active in the organisation and implementation of data analysis-based CPD learning activities within the club.

The person Leicester is seeking:

  • Significant experience of working as part of a professional sports organisation, or other sports-related industries.
  • Experience of managing large datasets, and producing high-quality data insights and visualisations for end-users.
  • Experience from other areas may still be considered, based on the relevance to this role.
    Masters or PhD in a numerate subject, this may include Statistics, Economics, Applied Mathematics, Engineering, Computer Science or related subjects.
  • Advanced coding ability (R, Python, XML/XSLT manipulations).
  • Demonstrable working knowledge of databases, SQL and database design.
  • Knowledge of using API’s to manage data sets, and experience using JSON scripts.
  • Familiarity with raw data files such as Opta F24 & TracAb.
  • Good time management & organisational skills, and ability to adhere to deadlines.
  • Excellent written and communication skills in English, with the ability to present results clearly (verbally & visually), and to develop close working relationships with existing staff members with varied levels of data analysis experience.
  • Demonstrable knowledge of football, and of how data analytics are currently being used to impact decision making processes in professional sport.

I noted Ted Knutson’s tweet about this opportunity.

Photo Credit

Leicester City ready for kick off (Ronnie Macdonald, CC BY 2.0)