This brief piece of information should assist all coaches and football people to recognize the factors that determine success in the development of players and high performance. In a recently released Report on Youth Academies in Europe – produced by the European Club Association – highly comprehensive and detailed information reveal the success factors and conditions responsible for producing high grade professional players in today’s football.
This 165 page compelling document should have been carefully studied by SAFA’s technical department and the PSL management before embarking in any youth development programs. Some of the ever-important findings revealed in the report are:
1. The top ten European academies that were investigated apply DIFFERENT football mentalities, coaching objectives, training programs, recruitment criteria and forms of competitions because THE SPECIFICS OF THEIR PLAYERS, NATIONAL MENTALITY, CULTURE AND ENIRONMENT ARE ALSO DIFFERENT;
2. There are no cases of transfer of coaching mentalities or methods from one academy to another – benchmarking (copying) of successful solutions DO NOT WORK IF APPLIED IN CONTRASTING CONTEXTS;
3. The foundation in ALL academies is the age group 7-8;
4. Without exception, ALL leading academies in Europe develop players ACCORDING TO THE RESPECTIVE CLUB STYLE (60%) AND NATIONAL FOOTBALL PHYLOSOPHY (40%);
5. It is NOT possible to FULFILL players’ performance potential if they are not exposed from the age of 14-15 to PROFESSIONAL MENTALITY (COMPETITIVE CLUB PSYCHOLOGY, STYLE INFLUENCE AND PERFORMANCE MONITORING);
6. The best talented players are recruited by clubs at the age of 7-8 or even earlier;
7. It is a clear indication that ‘INDEPENDENT’ academies can only have a very limited role in basic/recreational development of children up to the age of 8-10 (Take note KZN academy!)
These realities and factors must be considered and apply UNCONDITIONALLY if there is any attempt to maximize SA talent.