Women’s World Cup Football 2019: seven group games

Banner for the official website.

The Women’s FIFA World Cup is underway in France. There is an official web site (link) to support the Tournament.

I have started to build a repository on GitHub (link) for the data generated by FIFA. I am using some very basic code for my RStudio record of the games played (link).

For my first look at the data, I have monitored: ball in play (in minutes); total game time (in minutes); and weather data. I am using FIFA as the accurate source of these data.

My three visualisations are:

Ball in Play by Country of Origin of Referee

Impact of Humidity on Game Time

Impact of Temperature on Game Time

I am hopeful that I will find lots of ways to explore the FIFA data. At the moment, I am particularly interested in game time played in minutes (a median time of 53 minutes after seven games). My Google Sheets (link) aims to share data from the Tournament and follows on from a format used in 2015 (link).


This month, Mary Taguchi has an exhibition of Kasuri cotton fabrics at the Altenberg & Co in Braidwood, NSW.

In her description of the fabrics, Mary writes:

The old cloths tell the story of villagers who tie and dye threads into intricate patterns before weaving the cloths needed for life, as clothing, as bedding. The new cloths are all from my contact with a present day Japanese pedlar …

Marilyn Murphy points out:

Kasuri is a Japanese word from the verb kasureru meaning “to blur”… it’s a method of creating patterns in cloth through a dye process whereby threads are bound or resisted before the dyeing.

Mary adds:

kasuri is created by weaving together thread that has been pre-dyed with a calculated pattern. Thread is first bound with string in predetermined areas, then dyed repeatedly in vats of indigo. After the bindings are removed, white areas will be revealed; in the weaving the pattern takes shape, either by weft alone, or warp alone, or by both warp and weft in combination.

Mary’s exhibition shares the beauty of Kasuri cloth and in the tranquil environment of the Altenburg exhibition space, reveals the complexity of the creation of Kasuri in a wonderfully simple way.

I left the exhibition thinking about threads and how the concept of Kasuri might help me contemplate learning journeys.

Then serendipity struck to help amplify my thinking about threads. Solomon Kingsnorth introduced me to Mr Yamazaki:

a small, unassuming headteacher from Kanazawa had transfromed a Truro primary school by importing his special educational potion which he likes to calls the ‘Hitaisho’ method (loosely translated as ‘asymmetrical’, or ‘top-heavy’, which refers mainly to the radical approach he takes to Year One).

Simon says of Mr Yamazaki:

At the heart of Mr Yamazaki’s ‘hitaisho’ method is a beautiful minimalism- a stripping back of every single thing to its ‘bubbling core’ in an attempt to remove all waste from the system. At Mr Yamazaki’s school, less is more. It is a version of mastery that creates true masters.

In reception, this means that there are only 2 learning objectives for the entire year

knowing the alphabet off by heart (by sight and by hand)

counting up to 20 and back down again.

That’s it. No…really.

Solomon reports that “the rest of the time is spent unfolding a very intense program of oral language development”.

He adds:

To step into Mr Yamazaki’s reception class is to enter an enchanted world of fairy tale and myth which seems to encompass the entire world (and those beyond), from Ghanaian creation myths to Japanese folk tales. From 9am–3.30pm, the children are enveloped in a golden cloak of storytelling embroidered by their expertly trained teachers. The children are constantly retelling stories to each other, their parents and the class, with astonishing eloquence. By the time they leave reception, Mr Yamazaki estimates that each child has heard around 500 stories, each one rich with vocabulary and imagery.

I found the combination of Kasuri and the hitaisho teaching approach fascinating.

Whether the threads are of cotton or of stories, both have a magic about them.

My thoughts are moving towards how these threads might be celebrated in learning environments embraced in the values I mentioned in my recent post about Fogo Island.

Photo Credits

Mary Taguchi and Kasuri cloth (Mingei Studio website)

Mr Yamakazi’s School (Solomon Kingsworth)

What is it we do in Performance Analysis?

One of Jacquie Tran‘s delightful sketchnotes appeared in my Twitter feed a couple of days ago …

It coincided with a message I received from Jamie Coles and the subsequent guest posts that appeared on Clyde Street today.

Doug‘s definition of performance analysis includes ‘insight’, ‘information’ and ‘decisions’. Jacquie’s note of his definition sent me off thinking about some other words too … ‘augmentation’, ‘support’ and ‘actionable’.

In my thinking, I returned to two seminal papers from the same year, 1991, that helped me reflect on what the craft of performance analysis might involve at the time I was establishing the Centre for Notational Analysis in Cardiff:

Ian Franks and Gary Miller, Training coaches to observe and remember. Their abstract:

This study tested a video training method that was intended to improve the observational skills of soccer coaches. Three groups of soccer coaches were tested prior to and following a training period. The experimental group was exposed to a video training programme that was designed to highlight certain key elements of soccer team performance. Although both control groups were exposed to the same video excerpts as the experimental group, they were given different orienting activities. The subjects in control group 2 were asked to discuss these excerpts with a colleague and then write a report on what they had seen, while control group 1 members repeated prior test conditions that required them to remember certain events that preceded the scoring of goals. The results indicate that, although all coaches were incapable of remembering more than 40% of pertinent information, the subjects in the experimental group improved their ability to recall all events that surrounded the ‘taking of shots’.

Richard Schmidt‘s, Frequent augmented feedback can degrade learning: Evidence and interpretations. His abstract includes these observations:

Several lines of evidence from various research paradigms show that, as compared to feedback provided frequently (after every trial) less frequent feedback provides benefits in learning as measured on tests of long-term retention.  … several interpretations are provided in terms of the underlying processes that are degraded by frequent feedback.

I do think both are very important primary sources for performance analysts. They form part of the epistemological foundations that informed Doug’s presentation.

His definition also includes ‘effective’ and ‘efficient’ dimensions. Both emphasise for me the social skills of the performance analyst in harmony with the everyday coaching environment and the rhythms of a season.

Jacquie’s sketchnote raised again for me the inevitable merging of performance analysis and analytics. I revisited Chris Anderson’s (2014) definition of sports analytics as:

The discovery, communication, and implementation of actionable insights derived from structured information in order to improve the quality of decisions and performance in an organization.

And Bill Gerard’s (2016) proposal for “a narrow definition of sports analytics” as the analysis of tactical data to support tactics-related sporting decisions. He suggests “this narrow definition captures the uniqueness and the innovatory nature of sports analytics as the analysis of tactical performance data.”

I am immensely grateful to Jacquie for this prompt. I was not able to attend at which Doug and others presented and found her visualisation of the day very welcome.