Legia Warsaw & BrainsFirst kick-off ‘game intelligence’-project

5 Dec, 2023 •

Legia Warsaw & BrainsFirst kick-off ‘game intelligence’-project

Brain-based talent identification enters Ekstraklasa

The Polish club, currently leading the national league, and the Amsterdam-based Sports tech company BrainsFirst started their collaboration this month with a focus on the identification and selection of the most promising football talents. The common goal is to make the process of talent identification & evaluation more fact-based, data-driven, and scalable. Better player selection leads to more home-grown players in the first team and a more positive transfer balance for the Polish club.

BrainsFirst offers its validated assessment games platform, by combining gamification and cutting-edge neuroscience technology. Originated at the sidelines of Real Madrid & FC Barcelona and researched amongst 1200+ European pro players, BrainsFirst succeeded in decoding “game intelligence”. The company enables Legia Warsaw to assess the football brain potential of a player. This kind of data is considered a crucial piece of the overall talent puzzle. According to previous experiences in the Premier League, Bundesliga, Eredivisie, Primera Division, and Jupiler Pro League, applying BrainsFirst as an early-funnel player recruitment step leads to more justified admissions & rejections and consequently a higher efficiency and returns in the overall process.

Co-innovation leads to success

Legia Warsaw have recently launched a department to put together all data and research to make better-informed decisions when it comes to developing youth football players. Przemyslaw Zych, manager of Legia Lab Academy, explains: “We constantly look for relevant innovation and see cognitive data in respect to a very specific profile of a future professional football player as an added value for us. We want to have a holistic view on talent and to understand as early as possible the probability of the talents to meet those high requirements of elite football. BrainsFirst has proven to be an experienced and reliable partner for this aspect.”

BrainsFirst has had its initial experiences already since 2014 with partners like PSV Eindhoven, Feyenoord Rotterdam, AZ Alkmaar, and the Dutch FA. Meanwhile, its client base has grown exponentially in the Top-10 European leagues. Now they enter Ekstraklasa. “Legia Warsaw decided to choose this approach of talent identification & evaluation with a long-term perspective. They prove to have a clear vision and want to use the tools of today to succeed in the future. We are very excited to work with this legendary club,” says Eric Castien, BrainsFirst’s founder.

Crucial part of the talent puzzle

When (youth) players play the game, data is collected and a unique representative brain profile is made. “Everyone is good and less good at something,” says Castien. “The games give you more insight into that.”

The method measures players on potential rather than what they already can do. To cope with the complexity of modern top football, it is not only necessary to be good technically, physically, and motorically. Certain brain functions must also be of a high level, otherwise for example, ‘in-match information’ is processed too slowly to participate at top level.

Castien: “In talent recognition, the current performance of a young player is often taken as the main indicator, while this has a strong bias, such as physically. Players with a biological advantage at age fifteen, might at that moment be better than their teammates. They are often seen as the high-potentials of their generation, but some years later they are usually physically caught up by their peers. By adding a cognitive component to talent recognition, as a club you gain a better insight into whether someone is also ahead in that area. This allows you to see the bigger talent picture.”

About BrainsFirst:

BrainsFirst BV was founded in 2012 to define the context-specific required cognitive functions of elite football players. Since 2014, the data collection, analysis & interpretation leads to a considerably higher number of justified admissions & rejections in talent academies. Dutch clubs like PSV Eindhoven, AZ Alkmaar, Feyenoord Rotterdam, and the national association KNVB are long-term partners. Since 2020 clubs in Germany, Belgium, Mexico, England, and Spain have implemented the software in their talent recruitment process. For more information read here or reach out to Eric Castien.