You may have seen our last post that featured some of our speakers from this year’s conference. But we couldn’t not mention all the other excellent speakers imparting their wisdom on how technology can enhance women’s sports.

From Fanbase discussing how their app technology can give fans much broader access to a variety of sports and help clubs give their fans the best possible experience. To the entire room being completely dumbfounded by what the meta-verse is and how it can create a submersive experience in viewing sports.

Our first speaker at the event was Jack McGill from QTV. They are the leading independent production company in Scotland. You may recognise that name from other posts around our SW/S Awards as they sponsored our Power of Sport Award at last year’s event. Their mission to show off the wide variety of sports out there, on mainstream television and how they can use technology to make this possible was the focus of Jack’s presentation. Highlighting the lack of TV time women’s sports gets on any TV, let alone mainstream, at QTV they have a new mission – to change this. Having worked with teams like Glasgow Warriors, Strathclyde Sirens, and Dundee Wonderers, this mission is becoming a reality.

We then had Actify present how their new platform can be a fundamental tool for sporting groups and agencies to collate data, inform their users and share all sorts of knowledge to bring the best experiences to their audiences. With funding from the Scottish Government, their vision is coming into reality and making the best use of technology for these groups.

Next up we had Alasdair Crawley from Fanbase. A tech company that makes life easier for sports clubs. Bringing everything to one place, both enhancing the fan’s experience and cutting down on staff time whilst creating revenue for the teams. Having explored what the market needs, Alasdair and his team discovered the best way to use data – a hot topic in recent years on how companies use their user’s data. Sharing with the conference goers how this can best be done, and have the best outcomes for both the teams and fans—highlighting that more data is not equal to more revenue. But rather that it can be used to enhance the fan’s experience, therefore, leading to them using it more and spreading the word.

When Alasdair was watching a football match with his daughter, she pointed out to him that there were no women that she could see. At three years old, you know he is going to have great fun as she grows up. But it brought a real issue to his attention, the lack of representation in female sports. At the end of the day, sports fans don’t just love their sport because it’s played by men, they just love watching the sport being played (YouGov, 2020). This then opens an entirely new market for Fanbase, sports clubs and their fans.

In the same week FC Bayern Munich released their online tickets to match-goers, Fanbase helped Carnoustie FC set up the same product. Although they’re not quite playing in the same league, both have fans, and both play the same game.

As the conference was taking place at UWS Hamilton, with some of the country’s leading research facilities as well as the people doing that research.

Dr Eilidh Macrae presented her research into the before and after effects of pregnancy on female athletes and the importance, technology has had to make these transitions a lot easier in the aftermath of The Pandemic.

Dr Laura Forrest then presented her research. The focus of which is, to see how a female athlete’s menstrual cycle can affect her training and how sporting bodies can better respond to an athlete’s needs.: “These include the need for clinicians and support staff in elite sporting organisations to perform menstrual cycle profiling for their athletes, monitor menstrual cycles over time and to continue to develop awareness, openness, knowledge and understanding for both athletes and support staff.”

We then broke for lunch and on return to the auditorium Maree Todd MSP, and Sports Minister opened the afternoon session.

“We’ve had the most successful away games for Scotland, at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games. And although I know I am preaching to the converted, technology can really help advance our county’s health and wellbeing. Social media has transformed how we communicate and it’s time to play our part. Technology is the future, we have to work collaboratively to learn and educate.”

We then had our favourite gals from sportscotland, Maggie and Nikki, you can read a bit more in-depth about what they’re doing over at sportscotland here. But to summarise their discussion on the day, both Nikki and Maggie shared what was going on behind the scenes at sportscotland. Where they are providing a hub of information for all levels of athletes and coaches that focus on content, not for improving performance but rather looking after the athlete’s mental and physical health. When their research shows that over half of the female athletes that took part see a negative impact on their training as a result of PMS, it highlights the importance of making changes to the way athletes are treated.

“Although everyone has different experiences, we all go through it.”

Moving away slightly from periods, to ‘the metaverse’. Now if you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering what in the world is a metaverse and how does it relate to female sports? The Metaverse is a part of the future world studies program at UWS and part of the fourth technological revolution. It is showing that there is a whole other side to viewing sports. Like being able to attend sports games without actually being there. This brings a whole new audience to the sporting world, making it easier for people to access sports. On the flip side, we saw throughout the pandemic that a lot of athletes were made to completely change the way in which they trained – however through the use of the metaverse coaches and athletes from all kinds of sports can make use of cyber coaching.

Dr Matt Frew, a Senior Lecturer in Enterprise and Transformational Technologies at  UWS, was presenting to the entire room and baffling all of us with the bizarre world of the metaverse. If you’re interested in Dr Frew’s work and funnily enough this isn’t an area of expertise for me, you can see more of his work here.

To end our conference, we had a familiar face that some of you may recognise, Dr Emma Ross presented her most recent project in partnership with Mint Diagnostics: “Generations of women have gone through it, but it’s always good to know what’s going on in your body.” Dr Emma opens with. The project is to use Mint Diagnostics technology to test female athletes for their estrogen and prednisone levels and patterns in order to see how (intense) training can affect the athlete’s hormones and how this in turn affects their training.

Menstrual health is a vital part of understanding how healthy a female athlete’s body is. Time and time again we have seen athletes come forward and talk about their erratic period changes as their training is so intense. The term – lighter means faster crops up constantly in the research we see into female athlete’s health. However, when this begins to impact their menstrual cycle, the athlete cannot be considered healthy.

An example of this is Bobby Clay, a British track athlete, who was diagnosed with Osteoporosis at the age of 18. This was due to overtraining and undereating. Which led to cycle changes and eventually her bone density was so weak and brittle that she was unable to progress further in her career.

However, the work going on between Hormonix and Mint Diagnostics to change this and give female athletes a fighting chance to have normally functioning bodies is in the process of changing the female sporting world considerably.

Another day done, the conference came to an end, and with a final chit-chat and plenty more people to connect with via LinkedIn we learned a whole lot more about what technology can do to help female sports and close the knowledge gap for the future stars on and off the track.

A special mention to sportscotland for their contribution on the day and for sponsoring the event. And to UWS for hosting another amazing day for the SW/S 2022 Conference.

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