BOSA Winter School 2024 Recap: Highlights and Outcomes

During the week of Feb. 5-9, over 50 data scientists, sports scientists and other sports experts gathered for the second edition of the Becoming Outstanding in Sports Analytics (BOSA) Winter School. The week was organized by IDLab Sports Data Science teams of Ghent University and the University of Antwerp. BOSA offered a mix of theoretical lectures on important topics in sports analytics, specific use cases from several sports, and a practical, real-life sports data project the participants worked on all week.

Ghent University’s main organizer of the event Steven Verstockt sums it up as follows:

BOSA can be seen as the Olympics for sports and data scientists. A biennial intensive week of coding and learning, in which an international field of participants -each with their specific skills and expertise- reinforce each other and take it to the next level. In the finals, they compete against each other in a sports data science hackathon, in which they build a demonstrator that offers an answer/solution to the cases provided by the sports associations.

Steven Verstockt

We gathered the most notable events by day so you can get an impression of how the Winter School went. Follow along!

Day 1:

The participants received a proper welcome with speeches by Leonid Kholkine (IDLab), Kristof De Mey (Victoris) and Sofie Debaere (Sport Vlaanderen), and were afterwards sent off to either a course on programming or the lecture ‘Performance in sports: an introduction in exercise physiology’ by Dirk Vissers and Jente Wagemans.

The second part of the day included a keynote by Benedikt Fasel (Archinisis) on inertial sensors and GNSS for measuring outdoor sports performance. This was followed by a presentation of the hackathon use cases, a guided tour of the Topsporthal and the first hackathon brainstorm.

Day 2:

Day 2 featured several sports data courses to further prepare the participants for their hackathon project.

  • Ine Van Caekenberghe taught the basics of sports biomechanics (and also how to make the best paper airplane).
  • Tim Verdonck, Leonid Kholkine and José Oramas M. from IDLab gave an introduction to Data Science and Explainable AI
  • Cédric Van Branteghem presented the different activities and structure of the BOIC and also focused on the “Road to Paris” of Team Belgium and how technology and data plays a role in it.
  • Maarten Slembrouck, Robbe Decorte and Jelle Vanhaeverbeke (from our own Universiteit Gent Sports Data Science team) demonstrated a number of recent, commonly used techniques in computer vision, ranging from basic image processing building blocks to modern deep learning models.
  • BOSA 2022 and 2024 participant Dietrich Heiser explained how to scale the unscalable.
  • The day was concluded by a Hackathon Data Exploration and a second brainstorm.

The first 2 hurdles were taken. 3 more to go!

Day 3:

This was the last day that centered around gaining fundamental and practical skills about sports and data science. From tomorrow on full attention on the hackathon!

In the afternoon, the participants were invited to a social activity in the Centrum Eddy Merckx: indoor track cycling – a nice change after a knowledge-packed morning!

Still 2 days of BOSA to go! Let’s put all the theory to practice during the hackathon.

Data visualization is as important as the effort put into analyzing the data set.

Dhruv Seshadri

Day 4:

Let’s get down to business! The hackathon is on.

The participants put together their diverse skill sets and worked on their use case all day, with only a brief interruption by a presentation on PACE.

Day 5:

The hackathon drew to a close by noon, and then it was time to pitch the results to the jury. While the jury retreated to discuss the pitches, Ann Wauters took the stage and shared her insights on data and basketball. Next, the winners were announced and all participants received their BOSA certificate. To wrap up the week, everyone was invited to stick around for a networking drink.

It’s safe to say that this year’s BOSA edition was another success, or in Steven’s words:

What a week! What a Team! Looking forward to BOSA 2025!

Couldn’t attend this year’s edition? Don’t worry: we’ll make sure to communicate the date of the next BOSA week through our blog and social channels, so stay tuned!

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