Following his graduation from UCFB’s BA (Hons) Football Business & Finance programme, Lewis Ferguson stumbled upon a role at Hawk-Eye Innovations, the company responsible for technology at major sporting events including the Premier League. Having worked at the company for over two years, Lewis now operates the goal-line technology in the UK, a job which he regards as almost too good to be true! Here, Lewis tells us more about the role and his predictions for the future of VAR in football

Tell us about your role as Systems Operator at Hawk-Eye Innovations and what it involves. 

I mainly work in goal-line technology at football matches in the UK and Europe. This includes the logistics, set up and maintenance of the system while I am also involved with training the new starters. In addition, I have helped out with operations for other sports like The Masters golf tournament where I remotely made replays of shots for their website. I get to travel all over the world as well; last year I went to Israel, Romania and the Ukraine while I have also been to Austria and the Netherlands. It’s been amazing, especially given the global pandemic, seeing places I would never have even dreamed of going. 

Working on some of the world’s biggest football competitions is something I never could have imagined doing five years ago. It is such a rewarding job to have and you see some special moments, like when I was fortunate enough to have pitch side access when Liverpool lifted the Premier League title in the summer. 

How has your role changed since VAR was introduced into the Premier League?

Everything is now more varied and there are more things to consider when setting up the technology. The core areas of my role are very similar but it is interesting when getting involved with the other services provided on site. There is so much going on and there is always something to do or learn about.  

How has working in the technology sector made you view sport differently?

I am amazed at how much goes into getting a football match on television. The number of people involved and what they do is never what I imagined as a fan inside the stadium or watching from home. Not only that but the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure the matches go ahead; liaising with leagues, clubs and broadcasters all at once. This creates a new dynamic to the role and has changed my view of sport. 

How do you think Hawk-Eye has changed sport?

I believe Hawk-Eye has made sport fairer and safer through their products. The fact we can award teams goals that otherwise wouldn’t have been given or save a goalkeeper the embarrassment of conceding is something that wouldn’t have been possible when I was growing up watching the game. Also, the fact we can assist analyst and medical teams in their role through our replay systems means we can keep players safer as well. 

How do you think technology will impact and change football in future years?

I think as technology develops and we are able to do more with computers we will only see more of technology implemented into sport – what we are already doing at Hawk-Eye is fascinating. We will also start to see a trickle-down effect as more leagues and competitions introduce innovations.

How did your BA (Hons) Football Business & Finance degree help prepare you for the role? 

My degree gave me an insight into the inner workings of sport and football so it gave me a grounding of what to expect when entering the industry. Meeting deadlines and needing to manage my own time more also prepared me for logistical challenges we can sometimes face. Not only that but the extracurricular activities provided by UCFB meant I could get real work experience, so I wasn’t shocked when I entered full-time employment for the first time. 

What advice do you have for any prospective students looking to study at UCFB?

To get involved with as much as they can, not only in work or their studies but in life. When I was at UCFB I got stuck into a lot of the opportunities provided that I was interested in, like working at the National Football Museum and doing mock commentaries and match reports at live matches with Peter Smith, which again gave me good grounding for the future and an insight into multiple aspects of sport.  

I also played hockey for a local team, studied, made some amazing friends and became a more rounded person. Not only that but the reason I was able to get my job with Hawk-Eye was because I decided to complete my SCUBA Divemaster once I finished at UCFB and met a colleague who put me in touch with Hawk-Eye. It just goes to show you never know what might happen in life!