Say what you like about Manchester City FC, but it’s a soccer club that loves wearable gadgets. Not only does it have a smart scarf in the works, but today, it’s launching Cityplay, a wearable performance tracker that provides training insights to folks who like to play footy in their spare time.
Cityplay is a collaborative effort with Playermaker, a tech company that makes a wearable soccer tracker. Playermaker’s tech has been around for a while, and the tracker is currently used in Man City’s Academy, which trains promising young players. According to the club’s press release, Cityplay gives users scores for “critical football skills” so they can better understand how they rank on technical aspects like first touch and dribbling as well as physical attributes like speed and agility. The sensor itself is worn on the user’s footwear and pairs with a companion app that delves into why certain skills matter for specific positions. The app also provides training drills that users can practice on their own or with teammates.
“We have spent many years improving our knowledge of what it takes to continue to perform and succeed at the highest level,” says Jorgina Busquets, managing director of football education and recreation at the club. “Previously used within our Academy, we’re pleased to now be able to offer this to anyone who wants to improve their skills, further expanding the reach of our methodology to those both in the UK and globally.”
(Despite the positioning, Man City haters will never fail to remind you the club bought its way to success instead of growing it from the ground up.)
Athletes are always looking for an extra edge against the competition, which explains why so many have glommed onto wearables — including many Premier League clubs. Several pros also use niche wearables like Whoop and the Oura Ring so they can craft training schedules while minimizing the risk of an injury. You’ll also find that endurance athletes and adventurers are often featured as Garmin, Polar, or Coros ambassadors. That said, wearables offering in-depth training for recreational athletes aren’t as mainstream outside of running and cycling.
The other thing the Cityplay tracker borrows from niche wearables is its pricing. Instead of a single fixed cost, there are three tiers that include the device and a few months of a monthly subscription. The lowest tier costs £149 (roughly $166) for six months, £189 ($211) for a year, and £239 ($267) for two years. After that, membership will cost £9.90 (about $11) per month. Subscriptions are an increasingly common trend in the wearable category, though consumers haven’t been too pleased about it.
Perhaps only diehard Man City fans will jump at the chance to be kitted out with Cityplay trackers on their shoes and a smart scarf round their necks. But if successful, this might open the door to a future where sports teams offer branded trackers, promising that weekend warriors can benefit from the same coaching as their favorite teams.