North Melbourne Football Club
Building a Culture of Sustained Excellence
About North Melbourne FC
The North Melbourne Football Club, nicknamed the Kangaroos, is an Australian rules football club that competes in the Australian Football League (AFL), the sport’s premier competition. Founded in the suburb of North Melbourne in 1869, it is based at its traditional home ground, Arden Street Oval, and plays its home matches at both the nearby Docklands Stadium and Blundstone Arena in Hobart, Tasmania. Jamie Macmillan is the club’s Head of Operations.
In the highly competitive Australian Football League (AFL), it isn’t enough to merely have a talented team, great coaching, and state-of-the-art facilities. The performance staff at North Melbourne Football Club realized they also needed a way to elevate player development, better manage injuries, and monitor training, match, health, and wellness data. To do so, they decided to find an athlete management system (AMS) that would get players, coaches, and performance specialists on the same page and provide instant access to comprehensive information that would support a culture built around sustained excellence.
The main obstacle North Melbourne’s performance group faced was that its data was siloed in Excel spreadsheets. As each specialty – such as strength and conditioning, physical therapy, and medical – had its own exclusive database, it was difficult to share information across domains and make collaborative decisions about player training, injury management, availability, and match analysis. High staff turnover, typical in sports organization, also presented a challenge to the continuity of the data program. In addition, the coaching staff was stretched thin and didn’t have the time to collect, collate, or interpret players’ data.
The Kangaroos selected Smartabase to manage their first team’s performance, selection, player development, injury management, and wellness data. Objective metrics are imported into a centralized hub from systems such as Catapult, while other specialties such as physiotherapy submit notes directly and wellness surveys capture psycho-emotional wellbeing. Coaches and players use the platform to create collaborative post-match reviews and to see how training lines up with team goals and positional needs. Smartabase also allows the coaching staff to monitor players’ injury status and availability in real time.
Smartabase enabled North Melbourne to create a centralized platform for all its data. This created numerous efficiencies and enabled the performance staff to collect and analyze data they wouldn’t have been able to use otherwise. Implementing an AMS made it easier for players and coaches to collaborate, which adds a layer of subjective analysis to the usual game statistics. Enabling players to see who has completed wellness surveys increased accountability, and tracking the time they spend on each aspect of individual skill development is helping them work on their weaknesses and strengths, to the benefit of the team.