Sport Sparks signs up Sunderland AFC

App uses generative AI to support a guided creative problem-solving process

English football club Sunderland AFC have signed up with Sport Sparks™ to develop creative thinking practices among the club’s youth team coaches.

Sport Sparks™ is a service and digital app created by the Centre for Creativity enabled by AI (CebAI), based at Bayes Business School at City University of London, and it has been designed to inspire brilliant coaching. The app applies generative AI to creativity, critical analysis and problem-solving techniques to support a guided creative problem-solving process. This technology enables coaches to ideate more efficiently and devise more innovative solutions to issues they face in their work. These processes are supported via in-person and online workshops, and other learning content.

Professor Neil Maiden at the Academy of LightCaption: Professor Neil Maiden and Stuart English at Sunderland's Academy of Light

CebAI is able to customise Sport Sparks™ to deliver a tailored version of the app specifically for Sunderland’s youth coaches. This builds on previous research to support coaching young people, who may have specific challenges around motivation, emotional resilience and communication, among other things.

The collaboration was agreed when Professor Neil Maiden, Director of CebAI, and Amanda Brown, Research Fellow, visited the club’s Academy of Light state-of-the-art training facility and demonstrated Sport Sparks™ to youth team coaches.

Stuart English, Sunderland’s Head of Coaching, said: “We are honoured that Sport Sparks™ reached out to work with us. We aim to be bold in our approach to coaching within our football club, which means we need to find new and creative ways to work with our players to create the best learning environment to help them fulfil their potential.”

Professor Neil Maiden said: “I’m delighted to be working with one of England’s greatest football clubs, one now committed to creativity, technology and new ways of working. I have high hopes for a long partnership, contributing to Sunderland being one of the country’s most innovative clubs.”