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How Pafos FC stays at the cutting edge of sports technology

A young player using i-BrainTech's technology at Pafos FC - Cyprus Mail
A young player using i-BrainTech's technology at Pafos FC
Efforts to transform Cyprus into an innovation-led economy resulted in a partnership combining technology and sports

Cypriot football club Pafos FC is poised to revolutionise the way its players train and perform on the field by partnering with i-BrainTech, a sports technology company specialising in athletic brain training.

It should be noted that i-BrainTech’s decision to expand its operations to Cyprus in 2023 was welcomed as a significant vote of confidence in the country’s burgeoning sports industry.

i-BrainTech’s interdisciplinary team, including neuroscientists, AI engineers, athletes, and entrepreneurs, aims to optimise human potential through neuroscience.

Their brain-training technology, developed with athlete input and scientific research, integrates neuroscientific principles and machine learning.

The company’s training system operates as a sports video game controlled solely by the mind.

By specifically targeting and enhancing the brain’s focus and motor control areas, iBrainTech wants to empower athletes to reach peak performance levels on the field.

Additionally, its system introduces cutting-edge brain analytics, offering advanced insights for monitoring progress and identifying talent.

“During my keynote at the 2022 Reflect conference, I discovered Cyprus’ ambition to transform into an innovation-led economy,” Konstantin Sonkin, the Co-Founder & CEO of i-BrainTech, said.

“This ambition extends beyond mere wealth creation, aiming for lasting impact through technological advancements,” he added.

Moreover, Sonkin stated that “i-BrainTech views Cyprus as a critical gateway to the EU, while also recognising opportunities for improving the administrative frameworks surrounding tech entrepreneurship”.

Our commitment to Cyprus is fueled by the region’s profound passion for sports, as demonstrated by its elite academies,” he stressed.

Furthermore, the i-BrainTech CEO explained that “the limited talent pool, a result of the area’s size, highlights the need for innovation and technology to achieve global competitiveness”.

He noted that “to address this, we’re providing local youth with access to our advanced cognitive training technology“.

“Through partnerships with premier academies and exploring the potential for at-home training programs, we aim to support the development and career advancement of young athletes,” Sonkin said.

Meanwhile, speaking exclusively to the Cyprus Mail, Maksim Diukov, Head of Data Science and Analysis at Pafos FC said, that “in today’s modern sports landscape, technology is indispensable”.

“It has evolved significantly from a decade ago, becoming an integral part of football. We rely on technology for GPS data, performance analysis, and various metrics,” he added.

In the broader context of sports and Pafos’ affiliated clubs, Diukov serves as the head of analysis and partially oversees the technology being used.

His role involves organising the analytical workflow, setting up new technology, and testing its efficacy to enhance club and group performance on the field.

“My responsibility is to integrate this technology for the benefit of the club and the group. We evaluate what works and what doesn’t, adopting successful approaches across our clubs in Latvia, Dubai, and the United Arab Emirates,” he explained.

Supporting the club’s efforts is Theofylaktos Christofi, Pafos FC’s Assistant Football Coach for the U16-U17 groups, who was described by Diukov as their “right-hand man”, helping in a number of areas behind the scenes.

“My colleague, who is part of the academy coaching staff, plays a crucial role. He ensures the smooth implementation of software and hardware solutions during training sessions, constantly monitoring progress and effectiveness,” Diukov said about Christofi.

The club currently has five i-BrainTech accounts allocated for the season. Four of these accounts are dedicated to its academy players, while one serves as a reserve for injured players.

“We implement a weekly plan for our academy players, with each of them undergoing two sessions per week. This structured approach ensures consistent training and development,” Diukov said.

Christofi explained that in terms of the benefits of using this technology, “it allows the players to enhance their ability to concentrate and execute sports actions successfully”.

“Also, this technology becomes very important when a player is injured,” he stated.

“While they cannot train due to the injury, they are able to use iBrainTech’s game to maintain their core skills, enabling them to be sharper when they can start training again,” Christofi added.

Furthermore, Diukov said that there are numerous drills available, allowing the club to tailor scenarios for each player and position.

“We adapt and customise these drills based on individual player needs and goals. For instance, if a player wants to improve a specific aspect of their game, such as delivering corners from the left side, we design exercises to target that weakness,” he said.

“This personalised approach aims to enhance performance on the pitch effectively,” he added.

Christofi noted that in every session, each player executes a number of actions.

“This is very important, because every week a player completes 80 actions. Approximately, this rises to 320 every month. So we’re talking about many actions. Which, if combined, it’s as if they performed an extra day of training,” he said.

In essence, this technology allows players to maximise the volume of actions without increasing the physical strain.

Diukov further underlined this point. “In football, repetition is key to mastery. Brazilians excel in football because they play constantly, honing their skills in favelas and at home,” he said.

“Practice improves proficiency up to a certain level, although talent and physique also play a role. Despite time constraints due to school and family commitments, we provide extra training opportunities for our young players to enhance their skills,” he added.

Christofi noted that the technology is especially appealing to the younger players, noting that “they enjoy it, and it allows them to increase their confidence”.

Meanwhile, Diukov stressed that “in our group, we emphasise our openness to new technologies, always seeking progress and innovation”.

“We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of technology adoption in Cyprus, pioneering the use of AI, advanced GPS, and data analytics in football. Our goal is not only to enhance our club and group but also to uplift the entire football community in Cyprus with cutting-edge resources and methodologies,” he said.

“For instance, we utilise cameras to record training sessions and games, providing coaches with tools for efficient analysis. Our efforts to embrace technology not only benefit our club but also inspire others in Cyprus to modernise and align with global football trends,” Diukov added.

One more aspect that Diukov mentioned is the club’s initial implementation of i-BrainTech in the academy.

He explained that this season serves as a trial period to assess its compatibility with Cyprus’ football players and its effectiveness in optimising performance.

“Next season, we plan to extend its use to the first team, primarily for aiding injured players’ recovery,” Diukov said.

“This gradual integration aims to benefit both academy and first-team players,” he concluded.

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