Event highlights promising future directions including impact of CSE’s AI-powered sport applications
The College of Science and Engineering (CSE) at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU) partnered with Katara and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) Africa to host a timely discussion “Football on the World Stage: What About Africa?” on November 30.
Influential representatives of African football stakeholders, including the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the media, footballers, academics, and African fans and spectators’ associations, focused on the profound impact and multidimensional influence of the FIFA World Cup on the game in Africa.
Over the course of three panel discussions, speakers shed light on the continent’s football landscape and its position on the global stage - from the five African nations participating in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022TM to Egypt’s joint bid with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Greece for the 2030 FIFA World Cup.
Opening the event, the first panel set out key aspects of Africa’s football history, current challenges, and its contributions to the FIFA World Cup. It was moderated by Dr. Gerard Akindes, Sports Management Adjunct Faculty at Northwestern University in Qatar and New York University (NYU), and featured Dr. Mitchell Obi, President, AIPS Africa, Dr. Luxolo September, Head of Broadcasting Services at CAF, Dr. Kamilla Swart, Associate Professor and Director of the Master of Science in Sport and Entertainment Management, CSE, and Counsellor Hossam Abdul-Ela, Head of the Ahly Fans Association, Qatar.
The second panel, “Aspiring Projects: AI Reshaping the Future of Football”, highlighted two promising artificial intelligence (AI) projects developed at CSE and how they may impact the football experience. Moderated by Dr. Kamilla Swart, the first segment focused on SADA Insight: AI for Sport Media and Events, a newly launched AI and data technology system capable of providing ultrafast, continuous insights on sentiments and public reactions to mega events based on the content of tweets. Dr. James She, Associate Professor at CSE and the project lead, discussed its potential use cases. SADA (meaning ‘echo’), emerged from his research with Dr. Swart and their teams at HBKU.
The second project was the collaborative sports tech start-up, sKora, a data-driven digital sports agent. sKora founders, Dr. Jens Schneider, Assistant Professor at CSE, and Eng. Adel Saad, Founder and CEO, highlighted its innovative use of data analytics to offer a career path for young players.
The final panel, “Down Memory Lane: A Retrospective View and Future Prospects”, was moderated by Victor Bolorunduro, Senior Editor at The Peninsula, with the participation of Gerard Akindes and Bill Tchato, former professional Cameroonian football player, as well as Mariama Bukari, a graduate of HBKU’s Master of Science in Sports Management and Entertainment program.
Held at Katara, the event attracted an audience of industry professionals, football organizations and players, sports media, and academics.
Commenting after the closing, Dr. Kamilla Swart said: “From one country representing Africa in 1970 to five in 2022, it is certainly an exciting time and place to have such a discussion during the historical 2022 FIFA World Cup. Our panel discussions created a space for some of the most informed experts to reflect on what the future holds for African football on the global stage, and this is not without its challenges. For CSE, it was a privilege to show how our cutting-edge digital technologies and AI-driven expertise can help in overcoming resource and access challenges creating barriers to professionalization, and also enhance future mega events.”
For more information on the research-focused programs and initiatives at the College of Science and Engineering, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, please visit cse.hbku.edu.qa