Norwich City and the Soccerbot360: The inside track on why Canaries want the £750,000 aid
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City’s £750,000 investment in the SoccerBot360 virtual simulator is the next stage in developing stars of the future.
The Canaries will become the first club in England to install the state-of-the-art technology at their training ground ahead of next season.
A City delegation visited Borussia Dortmund last summer to see the invention at work, which features a circular pitch surrounded by video walls onto which a series of projectors beam simulations of match scenarios.
Norwich also spoke to other German clubs before committing to the project, with Red Bull Leipzig one of the earliest Bundesliga teams to adopt the visionary training tool.
The Canaries appear on track to return to the Premier League but developing the next Max Aarons or Todd Cantwell remains a core part of the philosophy devised by Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke since they arrived in 2017.
“We had very good discussions with Norwich. With Stuart Webber and the owners,” said Robert Scheller, co-founder of the German-based company. “They really want to develop something long term and that is why it was an easy decision for us.
“Clubs like Salzburg and Leipzig have a philosophy where they want to help players develop and grow. Other clubs perhaps just want to chase players who are already developed. We are ready to help any club who has a set of values and want to develop their players.
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“At Salzburg whenever a new academy player goes through a series of tests before they are allowed to attend, the Soccerbot360 would be one of the tests. It would form one of the assessments, along with assessment by human beings. It adds more reliability to the process.”
Building work will begin next month with Zoe Ward, the club's business and project director, telling an online fans' consultation forum on Thursday evening the plan is to use it for all age groups.
“The guys at Colney are really excited about it,” she said, quoted on the official site. “It will benefit players all the way from the Under-9s to the first team. It gives players the ability to develop skills in a simulation environment, creating real life scenarios and going over your decision making. We think it will have a strong impact across our teams for a number of years.”
Former Leipzig and Hoffenheim coach Ralf Rangnick labelled it ‘PlayStation football, but with your feet’ and Farke and his coaches will be able to use the machine to improve the decision-making of Norwich’s squad.
“The Soccerbot360 is basically a platform for various different types of software. We can take data and transfer that into a virtual replay of the actual match,” said Scheller, speaking to Talksport. “For analysis you can go into the player’s perspective and this is new. You can see the match from each angle.
“You can also go into match situations and train the next situation, like an interactive scene. You start a scene and the player is inside the Soccerbot360 and the coach can assess if they make the right next decision, in terms of the philosophy of that club, because some clubs have different styles of playing.
“You have to imagine there is a 360 degree virtual world. Within that we develop training programmes, working with high speed cameras and projection, that is designed to train cognitive abilities, like reaction, anticipation, attention and cognitive flexibility.
"These are core ideas to get faster and better decisions from players.”