The future is now
Over 150 leaders from across Europe in the fields of technology, marketing and handball heard presentations and took part in panel discussions on the VELUX EHF FINAL4 eve on Friday at the ‘European Handball goes Tech’ event in partnership with Sportradar, held at the impressive KölnSKY in Cologne.
The event looked at how technology is set to impact the sport in the future with EHF President Michael Wiederer, EHF Honorary President Jean Brihault and IHF President Dr. Hassan Moustafa also in attendance.
Wiederer, along with EHF Marketing Managing Director, David Szlezak, opened proceedings and were followed by a keynote speech from Carsten Koerl, Founder and CEO of Sportradar, the recently announced official streaming and data partner of EHF club competitions.
Koerl spoke at length on the topic ‘Future of Sports Data’ citing that, on average, the total amount of time online/on a mobile phone per day in the USA is 3.5 hours and how this can be utilised by sport, as well as explaining about developments in the video tracking of players.
‘What Next in Handball?’ was the following panel discussion with Koerl joined by respected sports strategist Geoff Wilson, Maximilian Schmidt (Co-Founder/Managing Director of KINEXON Sports & Media) and Henry M. Blunck, Head of Business Development at EHF Marketing.
The discussion covered a variety of topics including how data can help tell more stories, rather than just about who scored the most goals in a match, and how it can also help players personally develop.
Britta Solter, Director Strategic Partnerships for Athletia Sports addressed the room on the subject of ‘Monetising the Digital Economy’ before a break in proceedings which was followed by Franjo Bobinac (President and CEO, Gorenje), Michael K. Rasmussen (Senior Vice President, VELUX), Gerhard Hrebicek (President, European Brand Institute) and Szelzak discussing the ‘Future of Handball Sponsoring’.
All present praised the unique ‘fair play’ nature of handball as one of its strongest positives. While Rasmussen explained the thought process with the initial, and continued sponsorship, from VELUX of the Men’s EHF Champions League.
After Szlezak explained that digitalisation is not only happening with the brand, but the sport too, the event was rounded-off by Jan Gubi Wichmann (Head of Marketing, SELECT), along with Schmidt, who, for the first-time ever in public, presented their ‘iBall’ - a handball with an integrated tracking chip – developed by the EHF’s official ball supplier, SELECT, in partnership with tracking provider KINEXON.
The ball, is set to be trialled in selected VELUX EHF Champions League matches next season, including a variety of ‘Match of the Week’ encounters.
TEXT: Andrew McSteen / br