Getting Started

We recommend you start working through this material before the course starts.

Setting up

The first step to getting going with football data is setting up a Python environment and to get some data to work with. This video gently explains the tools you will need and the data you should get your hands on for the first part of the course.

The video is slightly out of date (uses a slightly older version of Spyder than I currently use), but should give you a starting point for downloading Anaconda, understanding which programs you need for running R and Python code, orientating yourself within Spyder for Python. It also gives a “hello world” example, some advice about what to do if you are feeling stuck? and some points about the art of “copy and paste” programming (using FCPython)


The first half of this course uses the following datasources. Download the Statsbomb data here. And download the Wyscout data here. You should put these two directories in your working folder.

MPL soccer library

In this version of the course we will use the MPL soccer library of functions. These are particularly useful for plotting pitches and other graphics. Once you have a Python environment running, follow the instructions here.

Get inspired!

In April 2020, David interviewed four football data scientists (Pascal Bauer, Deutscher Fussball-Bund; Javier Fernandez, Barcelona; Suds Gopaladesikan, Benfica and Fran Peralta, Hammarby) about their role at their clubs and national teams. They talk about their routes in to working within clubs and what they do. This discussion offers a great starting point to finding out what you need to know about the profession of football data scientist.

The next year, David and Friends of Tracking co-presenter Catherine Pfaff, caught up with more analysts and data scinetist: Ashwin Raman (Data scout Dundee United); Hannah Roberts (Riptide Analytics/Blackburn); Sam Gregory (Director of Analytics Inter Miami CF); and Rob Suddaby (Football Project Manager at FIFA. Previously Norwich City and Leicester).

More videos with interviews of club data scientists can be found on the Friends of Tracking website.