BALD referees caused some teething problems for a local filming company who are now selling their technology across the globe.
Originating with Barnsley Women’s FC, Camera-pan have spent the past few years developing a unique solution to filming matches.
The idea started during lockdown, when the club were struggling to share footage of their matches, which pushed the team’s executives to become a bit more creative.
Chairman Steve Maddock said: “Through Covid we’d developed a way to stream our matches to fans.
“That was okay, but we needed someone to film – that can be hard when you’re looking for volunteers and working on a limited budget.
“This was all being developed by my son – Sam Maddock – he’s really into tech stuff and works in cyber security for BT.
“He then started working on an AI that could follow the ball during the match, it made everything easier.”
Over two years, the father-son duo continued to work on this technology, starting their own business while building cameras and training the AI through Barnsley Women’s matches.
Like with any technological development though, the company had its ‘teething problems’.
“The first time we tested it, the referee had a bald head,” Steve added.
“The camera ended up following his head instead of the ball – we had to make some adjustments.
“If there’s any time it could’ve happened I’m glad it was early on.”
Similar developments have been made by the Dutch company Veo, whose technology is already being used in big clubs like Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Unlike their direct competitors however, Steve is pushing for his product to be more accessible to smaller and youth clubs.
“We want to make this affordable – it’s for Premiership teams to under-nine clubs.
“I’m just happy if any club can use it, we all started at the grassroots teams and want to remember our time there.
“I used to play professionally and there are no videos of any of my games in the 80s, hopefully that won’t happen for others.”
This approach is clearly paying off, as the company has been receiving so many orders they’ve had to disable their online advertising before they get overwhelmed.
Their cameras have already been sold to the local West End Terriers, Hoftra University in New York, and Manchester City have ordered four sets.
“There’s only three of us and my son’s working full-time on top of it.
“We’ve got to walk before we can run.
“It is kind of scary, we’re going up against these big, multi-million pound companies.
“But it’s also really exciting, we’re getting orders from all over the world.
“When I see my son I sometimes have to pinch myself because I can’t believe he’s mine.”