Digital kick-off: How technology is  changing Ghanaian football
Black Stars video analyst Awal Kamin taking aerial shots with a drone to help analyse player performance during training
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Digital kick-off: How technology is changing Ghanaian football

As the world of sports embraces the digital age, the sports industry in Ghana is undergoing a technological revolution, with significant advancements reshaping football at both club and national levels. 

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Over the last five years, clubs like Kumasi Asante Kotoko and Dreams FC have heavily invested in advanced technological tools for team preparation, tactics and fan engagement. 

FC Samartex's recent success in the Ghana Premier League was driven by the innovative use of tracking vests and video analysis tools to enhance player performance and overall team success.

This tech-driven approach reflects a broader trend of digital transformation in Ghanaian football, promoting data-driven decision-making and bringing the game closer to fans. 

The Ghana Football Association (GFA) and broadcast partners like StarTimes have adopted strategic measures to improve fan engagement, expand accessibility and enhance marketing opportunities. 

Imagine a world where every thrilling goal, every nail-biting match and every heart-stopping save of the Ghana Premier League (GPL) is just a tap away on your smartphone. 

That is the strategic direction being driven by the GFA to improve the accessibility of football products and enhance the marketing opportunities for the enterprise.

Streaming services have disrupted traditional platforms in Africa, with Pay-TV firms like MultiChoice and StarTimes initially dominating sports offerings. 

The seven-year partnership between the GFA and StarTimes revolutionised how fans experienced football, beyond conventional live television coverage. 

This collaboration saw a significant investment in powerful broadband connections and a groundbreaking media agreement worth $5.25 million, ensuring broader accessibility and fan engagement for the Ghana Premier League, Women's Premier League and MTN FA Cup. 

It has ensured a significant shift in not just how matches were watched but also transformed how fans connected with the sport, bringing the stadium experience into the palm of their hands.

StarTimes offered live streaming on its app, allowing global subscribers to enjoy live streaming, video on demand and exclusive packages. 

The broadcaster's bespoke package for Accra Great Olympics, "OLY LINK", enabled fans to stream live matches with cashback incentives for the club. 

Matches involving Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko enjoyed the highest views on the StarTimes App, with peak viewership exceeding 100,000 for certain matches.

Figures available to Graphic Business from the FA's broadcast partner indicate that matches involving Hearts of Oak and Asante Kotoko enjoy the highest views on the StarTimes App. 

Eli Kondoh, Communications Manager for StarTimes Ghana, said that their analysis revealed higher app views for Hearts matches, particularly in the year the club won the Premier League and FA Cup double, with a peak of over 100,000 views for a particular match. 

In 2020, Kotoko's season opener against Techiman Eleven Wonders reportedly clocked 42,000 views on the StarTimes App alone. 

Prospects

With the GFA opening bids for new broadcast partners and the impending rollout of 5G in Ghana, football fans can anticipate high-resolution video streaming and exclusive content on various devices. 

This technological advancement will enhance the fan experience and create more marketing opportunities for football clubs.

Four years ago, Asante Kotoko inked a deal worth over $100,000 with CEEK VR, which allowed fans of the club to access subscription-based content such as the club's training, highlights of matches, exclusive interviews with players and officials and exclusive access to the club's dressing room. 

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The three-year agreement opened up opportunities for Kotoko to engage with CEEK VR’s virtual reality platforms for fan engagement and also expand the club's global presence. 

Beyond the fan experience, the technology afforded the club's coaching staff to gain access to useful records of matches for video analysis to monitor player and team performance for strategic decisions.

The current GFA administration is at the forefront of this technological revolution, promoting live streaming of competitions on its social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and the subscription-based GFA App, as well as encouraging clubs to maintain a strong online presence for fan engagement. 

Coaching education by the GFA at its Ghanaman Centre of Excellence in Prampram now includes video analysis training to ensure data-driven decision-making and effective game strategies. 

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All the national teams have at least one video analyst, with the Black Stars having two video analysts on the technical team.

Technological integration is not limited to professional leagues alone. Grassroots and amateur teams are also embracing these advancements, using tracking vests and video analysis to enhance player development and game strategies. 

Today, clubs like FC Samartex, Kotoko, Hearts and Dreams FC all have video analysts attached to the coaching staff to enhance the team's performance and match day strategies.

Grassroots and amateur teams are also embracing these technological advancements, using tracking vests and video analysis to enhance player development. 

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The government's digitisation agenda has led to the implementation of e-tickets for league and national team matches, increasing revenue and reducing leakages. 

However, the transition has faced challenges, particularly in terms of fan adoption at league matches.

Nonetheless, the widespread adoption of technology is fostering a more competitive and dynamic football environment in Ghana. 

The integration of advanced tools across all levels of the sport is transforming the way the game is played, watched and experienced, highlighting the benefits of this digital revolution.

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