Date: Fri 04 Aug 2023

By Steve Whitney

Treble-Winning AFC Totton Announce Collaboration with Technology Giant

Leading global fitness brand Garmin backs local community team with sponsorship and data insights

Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South club AFC Totton have announced a sponsorship agreement with technology giant Garmin for the upcoming season.

The Stags, managed by the son of the late World Cup-winning midfielder Alan Ball, plan to explore and showcase the potential of fitness wearables and coaching capabilities to deliver performance gains on the pitch.

The Hampshire town of Totton plays host to both Garmin’s European headquarters and AFC Totton’s ‘Stags’ making this a truly local collaboration.

On top of Garmin being the official shirt sponsor, the players will also be trialling the lightweight Forerunner® 965 smartwatch, as well as the HRM-ProTM Plus chest strap heartrate monitor. The team will wear the smartwatch 24/7, including while they sleep, so it can collect data on their heart rates, recovery, and sleeping patterns. The heartrate monitor will provide more detailed and accurate information during matches and training sessions.

Each player will have their own Garmin Connect account from which they can upload data at the end of each training session directly to the Garmin Clipboard app. Dave Penny, Sports Therapist, and the team of sports and fitness coaches can access and analyse the Clipboard information to identify the players’ progress and ascertain their training needs for the days and weeks ahead. The coaches can set up the designated workouts for each individual or team, and monitor their adherence to the training goals, as well as receive feedback on injuries, all in one system.

Jimmy Ball, the manager behind the club’s most successful campaign in its 137-year history is understandably enthusiastic about the new brand collaboration: “I’m thrilled that Garmin have decided to enter into this agreement with us. It’s consistent with my objective of making AFC Totton the most professional non-league football club in the country and for a global brand like Garmin to bring their expertise in performance to our table is fantastic.

“All the players are ambitious and want to succeed in the game, so they are all fully onboard with this programme. They understand that any marginal gains we can win by taking this in-depth data approach will bring its own rewards on the pitch,” explains boss Jimmy Ball.
Jack Fairbrother, Head of Marketing at Garmin UK and Ireland, said: “We are incredibly proud to announce our support for AFC Totton. Our European headquarters is a stone's throw from the club, so we're delighted to be investing in our local community.
Ball and his team share our passion for innovation and excellence. We look forward to seeing our products help inform how the players train, recover and ultimately improve their performances on the pitch, this season.

Steve Brookwell AFC Totton’s CEO said: “This deal represents a massive boost for the football club within the surrounding community and nationally. We’ve recently seen the rapper Stormzy and Wilfried Zaha invest in Croydon FC, who are currently a few levels below us in the English football pyramid, and of course Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney have reignited the passion of the Wrexham fans with their exciting involvement at the Racecourse Ground.

“It is our belief that working with Garmin will enable us to gain the kind of fair advantage that excellence in fitness and preparation can bring to match-day performances on the pitch, to help Jimmy Ball continue to take the team in a positive direction whilst playing entertaining, attacking football that our fans will thoroughly enjoy watching and can rightly be proud of.”

Monitoring physiological factors, like heart rate variability of individual players, will enable the coaching team to make informed decisions as to who is fit and ready to play, and who might need longer to rest and recover.

“Different players will recover at different rates, so a one-size fits all approach to training isn’t going to get the best out of everyone at once, which you need to do if you’re going to be consistently successful as a team,” Dave begins.

“Being able to analyse data for all the players via the Clipboard app will help us to identify the biomechanical and other training needs of all the players throughout the squad and assign them personalised workouts direct to their watch. This gives us a true 360-degree approach to their training and recovery needs.”

Periodisation is the process of manipulating training goals and processes throughout the season. It utilises a cyclical method of incrementally increasing physical workloads to ease athletes into periods of intense exertion and back down to lower levels, so they can rest, relax and recover. By using a combination of strength and cardio protocols, the coaches have been able to maximise performance and reduce the instances of soft tissue injury, which led to 95% of players being available for selection every week with key personnel frequently fit and ready to play throughout last season.

“The hard data gathered by Garmin’s products takes that to another level again, by providing objective measurements with which to monitor progress and adjust the players’ individual training programmes, accordingly,” continues Dave. “This evidence-led approach provides a firm foundation to confidently make decisions about an individual’s recommended next steps, as they continue to build up for match day or come down for a period of rest. The technology quantifies what we do and allows us to make the most informed decision for training and recovery needs for each player.”

Ball continues: “We used to do things like this at the professional clubs I worked at, such as Forest Green Rovers, Stoke City and Stevenage. But the technology has moved on so much in just a few short years and we’re in the very fortunate position now to benefit from Garmin’s undoubted expertise.

“As ever, how well these things work is largely down to the players and how much they commit to doing what’s required of them and they have all been first class. They can see how much we’re striving to take this club forward and lift it up the divisions. They know this is the place to be now, and we are aware that players from elsewhere are casting an envious eye on what we’re doing. It gives us every opportunity to reach our potential.”

Propelled by the goals of former Luton Town and Wycombe Wanderers striker Scott Rendell and young winger Ethan Taylor, and the meanest defence in the division, The Stags stormed to the 2022/23 Southern League Division One South title, before claiming the Champion of Champions Super Cup against their Division One Central counterparts, Berkhamsted. A three-nil victory over their arch-rivals Sholing at Southampton FC’s St. Mary’s Stadium in May saw AFC Totton also retain the Southampton Senior Cup on their way to completing a remarkable treble trophy haul.

Now, having just completed their pre-season campaign for 2023/24, Totton are ready to mount a challenge upon the Southern League Premier Division South at Step 3 of English football’s non-League pyramid, as part of their stated ambition to join the game’s professional ranks and bring EFL League Two football to their Snows Stadium home.

While Garmin is a global brand, the company values its community, and they are keen to work with a club that is already making a significant positive impact across many demographics within the local area. The ideal strategic relationship was right on their doorstep.

AFC Totton are nicknamed The Stags due to their proximity to the New Forest. In addition to the flagship first team, the club is home to a youth academy, a women’s team and an additional 33+ youth teams. They also host walking football for senior citizens and pan disability football. The club’s premises are available to hire as a venue for parties and private functions, training seminars and business meetings, making it a significant community hub for the residents of Totton and beyond.

The first team play competitive league matches on Saturday afternoons and train on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, although semi-regular midweek games – particularly in cup competitions and in the second half of the season to fulfil fixtures previously postponed due to bad weather – mean the fixture list is constantly subject to late change. Consequently, the training needs of individual players to prepare them to be at their best on match day are also in constant flux.

AFC Totton Web Site

Get Stuck In!

Southern Football League, Volunteer and help out your local football club!

Get involved with your club!

Most clubs are looking for volunteers. Find out more on the button below:

Pitching In Southern League

All the news and results in one place.