Collingwood Football Club (FC), nicknamed the Magpies or simply the Pies in the land Down Under, is a leading team in the premier Australian Football League (AFL). It’s arguably the most supported club in the sporting code and historically one of the most successful, having won 15 AFL premierships.

Operating in a highly competitive industry where performance, precision, and strategy are key, Collingwood FC uses data as its advantage both on and off the field. It recently deployed Pure Storage’s FlashArray//M system in a VMware vSphere environment.

Using on field sensors, Collingwood FC now monitors every kick, mark, and handball to help the team analyse and map its game plan; this can happen in the heat of the moment (with a grand final on the line) as well pre and post match.

Pure Storage Regional Vice President, Australia and New Zealand, Mike Sakalas caught up with Collingwood FC IT Manager Pete Tyler to chat about the club’s data-driven strategy.  

Mike Sakalas: Great to sit down with you today, Pete. Let’s start with why Collingwood FC went on the hunt for a new storage system?

Pete Tyler: Before Pure, we had to prune data we wanted to keep online because of the low capacity of our legacy system. There were huge trade-offs involved — we really had to compromise on what we kept. Pure ticked all our boxes, offering the best performance and capacity for greater productivity across our entire business.

MS: How have you found using Pure Storage?

PT: Our databases and web applications work faster and more efficiently, and the platform is self-driving from an administration perspective so we can focus our time and efforts on the field.

MS: How do you use data to get a competitive advantage on and off the field?

PT: We need answers in real time – the coaches will often come to you with requests like bringing up a five-year-old game immediately. Now we can store every game and every vision.

We monitor everything from kicks, marks, and handballs to scoring sources for each team using on-field sensors. We use this to analyse and map the best passage of play for a win on game day, and pull custom reports for each area coach on player performance after every match.

MS: What other benefits have you seen within the business?

PT: A huge part of success in football is collaboration. In a footy department, the right decision comes from discussion and debate. Having access to real-time data has helped make these decisions faster, but it’s also ensured they’re accurate — backed by historical data and predictive analytics to get us to where we need to be: the top of the ladder. The data by itself isn’t the answer, but it’s key to informing the decisions the coach makes at the end of the day.