Meath footballer Michael Newman was part of a scientific project by U tech to capture the movements of Gaelic football, hurling and camogie sport heroes today.
Four players were in studio to have their movements recorded by high-tech capture technologies to preserve and promote culturally significant European traditional sports like Gaelic games for future generations.
Along with the Kilmainham man were Gavin O' Mahony a hurler from Limerick, Caoimhe Mohan a footballer from Monaghan and Caoimhe Costelloe a camogie player from Limerick.
The research, being undertaken as part of the EU-funded research project RePlay, brings together three Irish partners - Insight Centre for Data Analytics, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) and Dublin City University(DCU) - together with five other European partners to film the movements of sporting heroes on motion capture cameras with the results of the project being used to preserve knowledge and educate future generations about these sports.
Caoimhe Costelloe said "It's amazing to be a part of this research project, capturing and recording our sporting movements for future generations. It gives me a sense of pride knowing that young women across Ireland (and beyond) will be able to use this new technology to learn and perfect their game of Camogie and keep the sport alive to become our future sporting Heroes!"
"This scientific endeavour is unique: it brings together cultural heritage, sport and cutting-edge technologies. It has never been seen before. It is also a chance to compare and analyse the evolution in the changes of styles of play over time, the evolution of our sports. Above all it is great for the young to see how they measure up against their heroes and improve their skills", explains Prof. Noel O’ Connor, the scientific coordinator of RePlay based at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Ireland.
Exceptional HD footage produced will be available for cultural and sport organisations. You will be able to see in museums and/or on online platforms such as Europeana. The research team also develops a system based on low-cost sensors and an open source 3D software to be used in all interested clubs. It will be tested as from next year and will help youngsters learn traditional sports and also enable experienced players to improve their skills.
In Europe alone there are over 3000 traditional sports and games. Many of them are in decline or already lost to us, due in part to globalisation and the increased tendency towards individualised physical exercise.
As well as the four Irish players, five Basque Pelota players were involved in the capture this week in Oxford.
"I think it’s going to be a big step in professional training techniques for both players and coaches," says Kepa Arroitajauregi, member of the Pelota and Associated Sports' World Council. "This is a very enriching experience for an athlete. Being part of a cutting-edge project is good for you and for future generations," adds Mikel Gonzalez, a Pelota handball player. They are both taking part in the capture in a studio specially equipped to replicate game conditions of the fronton (Basque court).
"Basque and Gaelic Sports are two of the few Traditional Sports and Games that act as social and community pillars in the regions in which they are practiced, either at home or beyond Europe.
The strength of the two traditions and their resistance to decline should serve to help other Traditional Sports. The application of innovative and low cost technologies, with support from the EU, will help to stop the decline," explains Dr. María Teresa Linaza, the project coordinator based atVicomtech-IK4, Spain.
Digital tools to open up culture and sport to all
The eight project partners from Spain, Ireland, Greece, the UK and Switzerland are building a motion capture system that will be within reach of sport clubs. They also develop innovative techniques to produce state-of-the-art HD footage and to recover 3D motions from historical films. European Commission Vice President @NeelieKroesEU, responsible for the Digital Agenda, says: "Traditional sports and games are part of Europe’s diversity and cultural treasures. We need to preserve them as we need to protect works of art. New technologies offer great opportunities to capture and share." Pictures of the capture in Oxford are available here.