Barça Innovation Hub to organise 'Sports Tomorrow' online congress on sporting innovation

Barça Innovation Hub to organise 'Sports Tomorrow' online congress on sporting innovation

The symposium will be held from November 9-20 and will modify the format from recent years to make eight themed video conferences on science, technology and business in sport

How do you treat tendon injuries, one of the most common in football? How will Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality revolutionise the game? What role will biotechnology play in sport? How is new technology changing the relationship between clubs and their fans? These are some of the questions that more than 120 experts and professionals from different disciplines will try to answer during Sports Tomorrow, the congress on sports innovation organised by the Barça Innovation Hub (BIHUB), FC Barcelona's scientific research, innovation and knowledge dissemination platform. From November 9 to 20, an electronic congress will include eight themed conferences related to sport. NBA player Pau Gasol will inaugurate the event, which will feature the participation of other renowned names such as Arsène Wenger -current head of FIFA's Global Football Development- and coaches Diego Martínez, Eusebio Sacristán, Paco Jémez and Javier Calleja, among others.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the initial plan for the event, and those in charge of the BIHUB have had to modify the different themed conferences that have gathered up to 2,500 people in recent years to a new virtual experience, entitled Sports Tomorrow and including eight different disciplines with innovation in the world of sport their common denominator

Specifically, these conferences will cover: Medicine, Physiotherapy, Sports Performance and Nutrition, which in recent years have been held under the banner of Sport Science Week; Training Methodology ’Data Analysis and Technology -which were part of Sports Tech Week- and a new theme that is incorporated this year dedicated to the management of businesses in sport. 

Each of these will have a daily presentation, so that those interested in a specific discipline will have content every day during the two weeks in which the congress will run.

Professionals and experts from around the world

These encounters will be attended by more than 120 experts and professionals from different fields, including doctors specialising in sports medicine, university professors, researchers, heads of companies and technological and innovation start-ups, and sports performance coaches. The speakers will also include several FC Barcelona professionals, specialising in different subjects.

Sports Tomorrow will kick off on November 9 at 3pm, with an inaugural session featuring NBA player and former Barça basketball player Pau Gasol, who also currently serves as FC Barcelona’s Global Ambassador in the USA. In his speech, Gasol will provide his vision of the role that innovation plays in the world of sport today, and its importance to individuals and in society in general.

From the November 10, the different panels corresponding to the eight themes of the congress will begin. In most cases they will have a common thread that the different speakers will develop over the course of the two weeks.

For example, in ‘Medicine in Sports Tomorrow,’ which this year celebrates its twelfth edition, talk will mainly be about tendon injuries, one of the most widespread in the world of football, and how new scientific studies and clinical practices can help treatment. Participating on behalf of FC Barcelona will be Dr. Gil Rodas, Director of the Medical Department of the BIHUB, as well as Markus Walden of UEFA Group Research; Jill Cook, Professor of La Trobe University; and Amelia Arundale, Specialist in Biomechanics for the Brooklyn Nets.

Tendon injuries will also be one of the main topics of the physiotherapy conference, ‘Physiotherapy in Sports Tomorrow,’ which will look at the latest research on how to treat patients with regard to these types of injuries. First team physiotherapist Xavier Linde will take part in this conference, along with other specialists from the club and experts from other countries, such as Peter Malliaras from Monash University in Australia.

Improving performance in team sports and what makes a team able to perform at its best level will be the topics around which the ‘Performance in Sports Tomorrow’ talks will revolve. Different teachers, universities and researchers will participate, along with and club coaches including Maurizio Franchini, Head Performance of AS Roma; Jean Benoit Morin of the University of Saint Etienne; and Martín Buchheit, Head of Performance of Kitman Labs -who work for different clubs in the Premier League, Bundesliga and NFL franchises.

In the field of nutrition, the ‘Nutrition in Sports Tomorrow’ talks will be from the Sports Science Institute of Gatorade, Global Partner of the club, as different leading scientists and nutritionists in their field will share their knowledge and experiences on how to enhance the different phases of an athlete's career through nutrition. FC Barcelona will provide nutritionists Maria Antonia Lizarraga and Mireia Porta, and there will be experts from other countries such as Asker Jeukendrup, a professor at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom.

Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality in sport

How will Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality revolutionise the game of football? What will the stadiums of the future be like, and how will they influence the development of cities and the sporting achievements of the teams? What role will biotechnology play in the world of sport? These are some of the questions that experts in innovation, business and new technologies will try to answer in ‘Technology in Sports Tomorrow.’ This section will feature a prominent voice in Arsène Wenger, former Arsenal coach and current head of FIFA's Global Football Development, who will reflect on the future of football in a context of constant technological change. Other participants in this conference will be Neuro-scientist Tara Swart and Paul Nohra, Co-founder of Alta Life Science and a specialist in biotechnology companies.

Coaches will also be represented in ‘Coaching in Sports Tomorrow,’ where coaches such as Diego Martínez of Granada; Eusebio Sacristán, former coach of Girona and Real Sociedad; Javier Calleja, former coach of Villareal; and Paco Jémez, former Rayo Vallecano coach, among others, will give their thoughts on leadership and communication with players and the coaching dynamics at elite teams.

Coaches are increasingly relying on data and statistics for their teams. What is the present and future of science applied to sport? What are the tactical challenges provided by football and what solutions are there? These will be some of the topics covered in ‘Analytics in Sports Tomorrow,’ which this year celebrates its second edition. Participating, among others, will be Laurie Shaw, scientist and professor of Research and Science at Harvard University; Michael López, Director of Football Analytics for the NFL; and Susana Ferreras, Data Scientist for Arsenal.

Finally, this year a sports business conference is included in the program, discussing how technology is revolutionising the way teams and brands relate to fans and is transforming the experience they have with the game. On behalf of FC Barcelona, Guillem Graell, CMO and Brand Director; Enric Llopart, Director of Digital; and Paco Latorre, Director of Barça Studios, will take part. International representatives include Eric Winston, a former NFL player and executive of the One Team Athlete Representation agency, and Larry Freedman, Co-President of the MLS’ Los Angeles Football Club.

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