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OH Leuven scores with AI through cooperation with UCLL

25 April 2023

Playing with data: OH Leuven literally takes it up a notch via a unique AI collaboration with UCLL University of Applied Sciences. 120 Applied Computer Science students convert what happens in the stadium to a virtual playing field with artificial intelligence. How can a soccer club use match data to find the next top player? That's the question students spent a week working on.

Through artificial intelligence, some 120 Applied Computer Science students are analyzing match data from soccer players this week. "Data-informed decisions are unavoidable in today's soccer therefore it is important to connect with the data profiles of tomorrow. We therefore hope to inspire them as 'club of the future' through this innovative and educational data project," said Steven Probst, Head of Health - Performance & Analytics at OH Leuven.

UCLL project coordinator and coach Marc van Volsom explains the successful collaboration; "Artificial Intelligence and allows to make predictions and can even help in player selection and training. We worked with the faculty and the team behind UCLL's Research & Expertise Digital Solutions to put all of OHL's match data and physical data into a model. The students examined what parameters OHL could best bet on based on that data and developed their own how to apply and substantiate that most efficiently.

"We put together a simple tool into which future data can also be smoothly integrated. This keeps everything up to date even after the completion of this project - and in case of adjustments in match data. That usability was important to us," explain UCLL students Renzo Van Audenhoven, Lorenz Van Simaeys, Igor Moens, Kobe T'Joen of winning team 19. "For us it was especially motivating to get the chance to work with real data from a big player like OHL, who will actually use our analyses. Not everyone can look at a soccer match in the Jupiler Pro League and say that with a college project they might have had an effect on results."

Niels Bijloos is Junior Analyst Data & Analytics at OHL as well as a recent alumnus of UCLL's Applied Computer Science program; "It may not seem like a typical interaction, computers and soccer, but I see every day how analytics is strongly deployed at OHL. The students in each of the 21 groups really threw themselves into the project. For me, it was great to come to the college for the first time as a facilitator rather than a student. Working with the data makes the students look at soccer in a different way."

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