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BrawtaSports heads for goal with stats in schoolboy football

SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland -- When the ISSA schoolboy football season kicks off in September there will be an addition that some will say was long overdue to football in Jamaica -- the keeping of statistics other than goals scored.

 

BrawtaSports, the website that partners with the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) for registering all athletes taking part in high school sports in the island, has launched an ambitious programme to track performances of players and teams at all games in the daCosta Cup and Manning Cup football competitions.

Already they have conducted five workshops around the island where student and staff volunteers have been taken through the rudiments of tracking and recording performances during games.

Leighton Walters, head of BrawtaSports, told the Jamaica Observer at one workshop held at Godfrey Stewart High School in Savanna-la-Mar last Thursday, "This is an initiative that we saw the need for, something more to be added to what the players contribute to the game and for historical references and inventory."

The benefits, he said, are many and varied, as it not only helps coaches to track their own team's performances, but also it could assist players to bolster their resumes when seeking university scholarships.

"This adds to the coaches' arsenal and adds to players understanding of the game," he told the Observer. "It can be used by the coaches as a tactical aid; they can get a better picture of how their own players perform over a period of time, as well as they can also see the results of other teams they will come up against later."

Action on the field will be tracked in 17 key areas, Walters said. "We can't track everything as this is the initial phase, it's brand new and so we are starting with the key areas first, such as shots attempted, shots on goal, interceptions, throw-ins, crosses, offside, and fouls, among others."

Each school will have a team of two: a spotter and a recorder. The spotter will be watching the game and reports to the recorder who writes down the information on a special form that will be provided.

After the game, the information will be fed into the BrawtaSports website, where it will later be translated into "fancy graphics and analysis", Walters said.

It is crucial, he told the volunteers, that the information for both teams corresponds, or the information will be thrown out. He explained to the Observer that they will be safeguarding against teams embellishing their own statistics. If, for example, one team reported they had 15 shots at goal but the other team only reports five shots against them, the margin would be too large and the information could be rejected.

"Accuracy is important, both teams must coordinate," he stressed. "Integrity of the statistics is crucial as the statistics in their own right don't have to be 100 per cent accurate, but must be in the same ballpark, same vicinity, and we are expecting the variances to be very small no more than five per cent," he said.

While the programme is not mandatory for all the over 120 teams taking part in both competitions, Walters added: "We promote it in such a way that the schools realise it's in their best interest. We have spoken to every school taking part in the competitions and got positive responses."

Not every school, he said, would be able to attend any of the five sessions they have had, but he said once they show interest they would be able to work with them.

The sessions were held last week at Seaforth High in St Thomas, Brimmervale High in St Mary, Porus High in Manchester, Godfrey Stewart High in Westmoreland, and Ardenne High in Kingston.

Currently, he said, the system was only open to the high schools and their coaches and while he said the media could also have access it was not necessarily designed for them.

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