The problem with English Football is ...

With the England versus Bulgaria match tonight, and the possibility of more bad headlines for English football should England fail to win the game, it was slightly shocking to recently find out that the way players are selected as youths to be coached at local academies is not what you would expect.

A friend of mine has a close friend whose son recently got in to the under 10s academy at an established Premier League club in the north of England. This sounds as if it is some great achievement, and of course, he must be proud. However, the methods used to select him really do leave a big question mark about the way footballers are developed in this country.

Apparently, the guys sone was barely watched when he turned up to the evaluations. Instead, the football club spent most of their times measuring his height, his feet, and asking questions about how tall his parents are. He later found out that players are filtered out as young as 8 years old if they believe they will be shorter than 5 ft 10 inches, and if they are likely to have big feet, which is considered a hindrance to footballers.

In short, they were more concerned about the physical build of the player than they were about the mental attributes or skills the player has.

Doesn't it tell you everything you need to know about English football that skill is not considered the first and most important reason for choosing a player who could be developed in to a professional footballer.


Anonymous said...

have a look at all the players that have lifted the world cup as captains in recent years...


all 5'9" or below

Kevin C said...


My girlfriend's Dad works for Manchester university and one of his PhD students worked at Manchester United for a while, so I've been privvy to a couple of conversations about this.

You're correct, kids are filtered out for size reasons. This is because the statistical chance of you making it as a professional footballer is overwhelmingly weighted towards taller young adults. Clearly this isn't 100% foolproof, but if you're running an academy you can't take on every kid in the hope that they might blossom eventually. It's a numbers game, and clubs are looking to minimise wastage.

There is a secondary issue, which perhaps you could highlight to your friends and their son? Research suggests that a child needs 10,000 hours of match practise - no matter what sport that is - before they will have the instinctive reaction and physical strength to withstand the world of professional sports. Yet many clubs' academies actually prohibit the children from practising outside of training or from playing for their school Think about it - 10,000 hours is 3 hours a week from the age of 8 to 18, yet many children are told only to play one game a week for their academy and abstain at all other times.


UKIP Aberdeen said...

Glad you are not looking at the problems with Scottish football, Bah humbug when will we get decent players. Too much foreigners in our leagues

simple fact.