Sparta Rotterdam

Club Index

How we support Sparta Rotterdam in customizing their scouting

sparta club index
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Since getting promotion to the Dutch top flight for the 2019/20 season, Sparta Rotterdam have gone on to establish themselves as a solid competitor to teams with much bigger budgets in the Eredivisie – finishing 6th and 8th in consecutive seasons.

Club Index

Sparta Rotterdam’s Technical Director Gerard Nijkamp and Technical Manager Jesper Gudde sat down with us to talk about their scouting philosophy and how the Club Index has simplified their recruitment process.

A key to Sparta’s success has been a data-first decision-making approach that follows a clear vision from the top and flows through all levels of the organization.

At the club, Gerard is responsible for all technical aspects at the club such as creating the football vision and developing pathways for the academy, but also overseeing the construction of a new training facility.

But his major responsibility is planning the incoming and outgoing transfers and creating a competitive squad for the Eredivisie every year.

Sparta club index

“Our scouting department is led by Technical Manager Jesper Gudde, who manages a team of four,” said Gerard. “They are responsible for identifying new players, but to also help me with the football vision.”

Defining your philosophy

This is a crucial process to building any successful football organisation, and starts by defining your playing style and creating the player profiles which highlight the attributes needed to play that style.

According to Gerard, the most important thing is what is happening on the pitch so the player attributes have to match that.

“We created a club philosophy based on how we are, and how we want to go into the future. That’s how the supporters identify with and want to see the team performing but also the people from the business. So we are looking for the players who can fit in that total philosophy,” he adds.

Sparta’s philosophy can be loosely defined as ‘physical street football’, and the two most important things they are looking for are good technical and physical skills.

“Now everyone in our team is always looking for the same thing. So when looking for a Fast Winger for example, everyone knows we’re looking at someone who must have speed, can outplay opponents and would be nice if he can be good at crosses.” says Jesper.

This is the first step and sets a clear vision within the scouting team.

Linking your philosophy to your player search

Before the Club Index, Gerard and his team would create their player profiles and then connect it with the data from SciSports Recruitment application, and video clips from a video scouting platform.

But being able to do things quicker and in a more tailored way can take your scouting to a new level.

Switching to the Club Index

The process of creating your Club Index is simple, fully customizable and done in co-creation with the customer. Users can choose relevant attributes from over 50 offensive and defensive performance metrics as well as our unique Physical Indicators.

Our team of football and data experts worked closely with Sparta’s scouting team to understand their requirements and convert them into the necessary input for the Club Index.

What users of the Club Index have to say

The SciSports Club Index seamlessly links our philosophy to the data, instantly providing a strong starting point to determine if a player suits our team.
Gerard Nijkamp
Technical Director at Sparta Rotterdam

How the Club Index creates a more efficient scouting process

1. Speed up player screening and discovery

With the Club Index, you can check over 260,000 player profiles and instantly know how well a player fits a particular role within your team.

“Now when I go to a player profile and immediately see the Club Fit score. So in two seconds, I can decide whether to move to video scouting. Otherwise I would have taken time to check his profile more in depth to see if it is worth spending time on. So it helps speed up the process for us,” says Jesper.

SciSports’ new Club Index filter can be used to instantly trigger players who rank above a certain Club Fit score. When used alongside other advanced filters for age, contract status and more, users can quickly draw up a shortlist of interesting options that can be shared throughout the team.

“So I can say give me the Fast Winger with a Club Fit score of 60 and then I can also add filters for contract expiry in two years, age under 25 and Potential over 80 and 30, 35 interesting players will pop up.”

2. Quantify your player profile

Because the philosophy and coach of every club differs, the degree to which certain player attributes are valuable also changes from club to club.

“Our club philosophy is different from Feyenoord or Ajax, because they also have other financial resources.” says Gerard

The Club Index allows you to control how you measure and value player performance. This client-tailored implementation begins by defining which attributes are valuable to you and assigning them high, medium, or low importance.

The output is a weighted average of all selected attributes, taking into account both their importance and performance.

“We now have an own control mechanism on what is must have, should have and could have in a player, and are able to connect with and quantify our player profile with a simple to understand score.” says Jesper.

“The important thing is that we trust the numbers, and it matches the eye-test so it gives us a comfortable feeling,” he adds.

3. Impress new players and get the support of important stakeholders

Every detail can make a difference when trying to convince the board to sign off on a transfer, especially if it is a big investment.

Jesper and his team pitch maybe two or three players a month to Gerard, and put a lot of work into each presentation.
The CEO and Directors do not necessarily have the time to get into the data behind each player, but they still want to know the reasons such as how they fit into the profile, and how they compare to others.

The Club Fit score is easy to explain and interpret and can help create buy-in from the stakeholders.


Gerard Nijkamp with new signing Boyd Reith

Jesper adds, “In our presentations, we always start from the player’s Club Fit score, as it shows how well he connects with the club’s profile. And this is a really important detail because of how much confidence and trust it gives us,”

Before signing a player, Gerard also uses the Club Fit score when negotiating with a player and their agent.

“We show the process, so that the player also gets some insight into why we are signing him. We show his qualities but we also show the developments he needs to do in the future.” says Gerard.

“And that gives a very positive reaction towards the club, because he can see that we did our homework in identifying him.”

Club Index

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