Football tech start-up Mi Hiepa is celebrating the first contract to supply its virtual reality football skills and coaching system – with Premier League giants Manchester United.
The club will install the VR platform tool at its academy as a training aid for younger players to boost decision-making and tactical awareness.
Mi Hiepa tracks the movement of a player’s feet and shins and generates individual training drills designed to spot and nurture talented young players.
The company – a joint venture between Manchester developer Mi and sports data specialist Hiepa – is also in talks with other top-flight clubs and expects further national and international contract wins.
Andy Etches, sporting director and co-founder of Mi Hiepa, said: “The product has been developed and perfected with input from physiotherapists, sports scientists and football clubs themselves and it’s extremely rewarding that Manchester United has recognised the benefits that Mi Hiepa will deliver to its already incredibly successful youth setup.
“We have plans for significant growth and hope to be expanding our 15-strong team in Manchester with a raft of new appointments over the coming months.”
Tony Strudwick, Head of Performance at Manchester United, added: “At Manchester United we’re proactive about embracing innovative new ways of learning. We were impressed by the Mi Hiepa virtual reality tool, which works by homing in on players’ decision making skills and training them in isolation.”
Strudwick and Etches are students on Manchester Metropolitan University Business School’s acclaimed Masters of Sport Directorship (MSD) course.
Etches said: “My MSD studies will undoubtedly deliver huge benefits to the Mi Hiepa brand. The course has unrivalled credibility and attracts an extremely high calibre of people. As a sports industry entrepreneur, it will be transformational in extending my knowledge and experience in both business and sport.”
MSD programme director Dr Sara Ward, of Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, added: “The fact that both Tony Strudwick and Andy Etches are students on the MSD course is testament to the impressive network of movers and shakers in both sport and business that we continue to attract.
“Although our students come from across the UK and overseas we’re rooted in Manchester and it is brilliant to see a positive impact on one of the city’s great football clubs coming about as a direct result of the course.”
The part-time MBA-level course, whose graduates include current Leicester City caretaker manager Michael Appleton, Manchester City Women goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, and Hull City head of recruitment Lee Darnbrough, prepares professional sports and business people for leadership roles.