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  • Valeria Vallenas

Meet the Team – Arne

In ‘meet the team’ you will get to know all Raw Stadia team members. Next up: Arne Jaspers, who joined the team after he understood the importance of the pitch for football players when he conducted his research for his thesis at KU Leuven. Let's quick-fire some questions.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

After completing my master’s studies at KU Leuven (M.Sc. In Movement Sciences and M.Sc. In Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy), I combined a position as a sports scientist at the football club AZ Alkmaar with my PhD research. I defended my PhD thesis entitled ‘Identifying relevant load indicators for continuous monitoring in professional soccer’ in 2018.

What brought you to join our team? 

I started working as a sports scientist at the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA) to support the Belgian national football teams. It was there that I encountered the technology and team of Raw Stadia and understood the importance of the pitch for football players. When they invited me to join the team to assist with the research and development of practical tools for sports practitioners, I readily accepted.

What excites you the most about your role here?

For me, the significance of the pitch and the ability to measure its various characteristics mark an exciting phase, akin to the early days of GPS tracking in football. It feels like we’re on the brink of exploring a new frontier, similar to the age of discovery, exploring our own planet and understanding its place in the broader cosmos of injury prevention.

How do you envision contributing to the team’s goals and objectives?

My ambition is to explore and elucidate the dynamics of player-surface interactions with Raw Stadia. Aiming to incorporate that theoretical knowledge into practical tools, not only for health and performance staff, but also for players to optimize physical fitness and reduce injury risk across various sports and skill levels.

Are there any specific challenges or opportunities within your role that you’re looking forward to tackling?

The ongoing AI revolution presents an exciting opportunity for creativity and interdisciplinary application. I am enthusiastic about the prospect of developing practical AI tools leveraging our technology and data to improve pitch management and offer tailored player-footwear-surface recommendations.

Outside of work, what are some of your hobbies or interests?

Cycling is a passion of mine, whether it’s traversing nature on a gravel bike or MTB, or ascending mountain passes on my road bike—the greater the physical and mental challenge, the better. Although surfing is also a favourite activity, unfortunately it’s not as accessible in Belgium. I value laughter and humour in all its forms and, akin to my professional interests, I have a wide range of hobbies and a thirst for knowledge.

Lastly, do you have any fun facts or anecdotes you’d like to share with your new colleagues?

One of my first steps into the professional football world involved a humorous misunderstanding with a former top scorer of the European Championship, whose name shall remain confidential. He was a trainer visiting our club for his professional licence, and that evening, we watched a game together. Aiming to start a conversation but unaware of his identity, I asked him a rather naive question: 'So, where did you play football before?' Luckily, he didn’t mind at all (he was a great guy). Eventually, a couple of years later, we met again at a training camp in Spain. He still recognized me and was very friendly.

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