Non-League: Wingate & Finchley To Allow ‘AI Coach’ To Pick Team, Formation And In-Game Strategies For Upcoming Match

Chris Wright

23rd, January 2019


Photo via Sporting Life

Non-league Wingate & Finchley FC are to become the first club in English football to have one of their matches masterminded by an AI coach.

For the upcoming Isthmian Premier League tie against Whitehawk next month, Wingate & Finchley plan to hand over all decisions about their team selection, formation and in-game strategies to an “artificially intelligent football coach” created by a team of experts.

The club are hoping that by partnering with The Big Bang Fair, they will help promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) job opportunities to young school kids and students.

The AI coach uses algorithms and a reasoning engine to determine every aspect of Wingate & Finchley’s game plan.

Prior to the Whitehawk match, all the attributes of Wingate’s various players (strengths, weaknesses, fitness levels, etc) as well as that of their opponents will be fed into the computer which will then divine the most effective tactics to adopt.

The AI will continue to provide various recommendations, substitutions and strategic tweaks as the game progresses, depending on the scoreline.

Wingate’s actual human manager, Dave Norman, had this to say on being replaced by a glorified calculator:

The fundamentals of football are exactly the same whether they come from a virtual coach or a human one.

As a teacher as a well as a football manager I’m a big supporter of The Big Bang Fair’s goal to get more kids into STEM, so I was more than happy to add an AI to the coaching team here at Wingate & Finchley.

I think it will complement our set-up immensely and hopefully help us pick up three points!

He best hope things don’t go too well against Whitehawk, or he may find himself out of a job pretty soon.