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Sunday League player wears state-of-the-art Man City tracking device during game, the results are incredible

Josh Lawless

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Sunday League player wears state-of-the-art Man City tracking device during game, the results are incredible

It’s a cold and frosty Sunday morning on Clayton Playing Fields, situated right next to Boundary Park - home of Premier League founding member Oldham Athletic.

Oldham Hulmeians’ clash with Pineapple AFC in division two of the Hyde and Oldham District Football League has just been confirmed as being on despite the freezing temperatures posing a risk to the pitch.

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The pre-match knot in the stomach, partly caused by a Caramel Latte sunk not too long ago, is coming into play.

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But there’s an extra weight of pressure this time around as my stats for the game are being tracked.

Image: Danny Hawkins & Oldham Hulmeians
Image: Danny Hawkins & Oldham Hulmeians

That’s right. I’m wearing Playermaker’s ‘CityPlay’ device in a Sunday League game, using the technology to find out how sh*t I really am.

In 2019, Playermaker changed the game by creating the tracker, which is powered by AI sensors placed inside two silicon straps that are attached to your boots.

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Image: Playermaker
Image: Playermaker

It then tracks a whole host of technical and physical performance data, including time on the ball, technical balance, kicking velocities, speed, distance covered, acceleration, change of direction, and more.

Thankfully it didn’t track how many times one's been nutmegged because there were a good three occasions that happened.

In September, IFAB approved the use of Playermaker technology for official matches, after it gained both the FIFA Quality and FIFA Basic Certification as part of the FIFA Quality Programme for EPTS.

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Playermaker have forged partnerships with more than 200 clubs, including Manchester City, Fulham, Norwich City, LA Galaxy and Club Brugge.

Image: Playermaker
Image: Playermaker

But for the first time ever, they were being debuted in a game involving the mighty Maroons. I charged up the sensors in an Airpod-like case the night before and brought them and the straps in a carrying bag.

My black, white and red Adidas Copa Gloro boots were fastened up, but I must admit I had some difficulty, so I had to enlist the help of my girlfriend.

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The manager was made aware that I would be wearing this cool bit of kit for the game but didn’t stop him from shouting at me to hurry up and get involved in the warm-up.

From the moment the sensors was locked in and flashed blue, the session starts recording on my phone through the CityPlay app, where I’ve just filled out details on my preferred position, preferred foot and team I play for.

Image: Playermaker
Image: Playermaker

A few lunges, heel flicks and side steps later and the referee signals for kick-off. I’m starting at right-back for Hulme as we look to try and get back to winning ways following a cup defeat on penalties against a side two divisions above last week.

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The start is fast and furious as we go 1-0 up after a flowing team move but then our level drops a tad and Pineapple equalise through a deflected strike.

But then comes a moment to forget for me. I thought I could get to a loose ball just inside the area, but the opponent got there a split second ahead of me. Penalty given.

Image: Oldham Hulmeians
Image: Oldham Hulmeians

My leg’s outstretched and he’s thrown himself to the floor theatrically. He’s played for it and even admitted to doing so. I felt it was a harsh one but then again the leg was out.

They convert the spot-kick (just about) and we go in at half-time 2-1 down. I wondered if I might be getting hooked. Their winger was a tricky customer to say the least. Quick, nimble and easily one of their most dangerous players.

He’s done me a few times when I’ve tried to get tight but on the whole, I don’t think I’ve done too badly.

Thankfully, me and my straps are back out for the second half. Interestingly, no opposition player or coach has noticed that I’m wearing what could be perceived as an ankle tag on both boots.

Image: Playermaker
Image: Playermaker

They blended in quite nicely with black boots. Anyway, we equalise straight after the restart and then get a penalty of our own.

For me I feel like it’s a sort of poetic justice given the offender was the man who won the penalty in the first half.

Our giant of a striker, Mateus, slots home and goes on to help himself to a hat-trick in an entertaining 5-3 win.


I was replaced with us 4-2 up and immediately take off the streps and put the sensors back in the case for the data to log.

Image: Playermaker
Image: Playermaker

The next step is to fill in details about the game, what position I played, who it was against, what competition and of course, the score.

I’m reliably informed that I played 69 minutes and had a work rate of 76.7 metres per minute, having covered 5.3km in that time.

Image: Playermaker
Image: Playermaker

My sprint distance was 139.3 metres, my top speed came in at 24.5kph and I had 16 sprints in total. All interesting stuff, but the real juicy bits were the technical elements.

Kicking power came in at 69.7kph (you’ll never sing that) and I'm slightly surprised to learn that I’ve only had 37 touches on the ball – 31 coming with the right foot and six with my weaker foot to give me a two-footed score of 57.

Image: Playermaker
Image: Playermaker

I’m buzzing to get a score of 99 for my first touch after 24 ball possessions. The technology also tells me about my “ball release footzone”, seven with the laces, ten inside and six listed as “other”.

Hilariously, there is “not enough data” to calculate my dribbling. I’m a right back after all so I keep it simple.

Image: Playermaker
Image: Playermaker

However, I’ve had two intense turns with the ball, a top speed of 16.3kph in possession and 31 intense turns, so who’s the real winner?

We celebrated the win with a quick trip to the local pub and then I got home and washed the muddy straps, ready for another outing in the future.

Seeing the data was fascinating and the fact that the app tracks your progress with personal records is great for wanting to improve.

Image: Playermaker
Image: Playermaker

This feels like a ground-breaking device and one that can be accessed by those at the highest level or the grassroots game.

But just to confirm to all my teammates who were asking, no it does not track nutmegs.

Featured Image Credit: Danny Hawkins & Oldham Hulmeians

Topics: Manchester City, Spotlight

Josh Lawless
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