Youth football can be a boon for any community, it can involve the young players, their siblings and their parents. It can help a community to bond with another local town or village and above all it is a healthy pastime for the kids.
However, although it is every kids dream to play for a big professional team do these large sporting businesses simply treat our kids as a commodity? Are the kids not better staying with their friends and local teams until they understand the situation a little better?
The key to the situation seems to be the care the youngsters have when they move to join the youth academy of a large club.
Youth Academies have been with us for many decades now, and they are a way for big clubs to filter out local talent and to groom them to want to play for their club and not go elsewhere. There are many positives in these sporting academies, many ensure that the children receive a proper academic education as well as a sporting one. Therefore, developing their minds as well as their bodies. However, the ultimate aim is to produce professional footballers. It is not just the skill levels and physical attributes that need developing it is also a certain mindset that every professional needs to have to succeed. Professional football can be brutal, not just physically but also in the mind, as the pressure to do well is immense.
The Five C’s
Many football academies say they base their sporting education on the five C’s, concentration, confidence, communication, control, and commitment. And no doubt these are worthy traits, but they are also very powerful and domineering processes and have to be tempered with other qualities that make a more rounded individual.
Big clubs recruit top coaches to staff their academies, many are ex-physical education teachers who have undertaken their coaching badges. These professionals know how to teach both academically and the skills on a soccer field. In other words they are ideal role models for the youngsters to follow. However, it is further up the tree that the real pressure comes. When the academy coaches are asked to recommend players to sign for the club, or when some of the youngsters are released for not fitting the bill.
Obviously if a young player is taken from the academy and rises higher up in the club then this can be the road to fame and fortune. But it is the rejected youngsters that the real problem arises, how they mentally cope with the rejection and how they settle back into a normal school life. Some professional clubs are aware of this situation, and have proper systems in place to re-assimilate youngsters back into their communities. The danger is the smaller clubs who cannot afford such systems, and simply discard the youngster to a scrap heap of failed footballers.
Perhaps the solution lies with the parents, it is up to them to properly vet any football club that comes knocking for their son’s signature. Joining a properly run football academy can be a very exciting and rewarding experience, a little bit of extra thought should go into the decision making beforehand though.