Updated: Sep 21, 2018
“Without training, they lacked knowledge. Without knowledge, they lacked confidence. Without confidence, they lacked victory.” – Julius Cesar
The quote from the great Roman leader sums up, quite perfectly I think, the development of young players in our country at the moment. In this the first of our sites blog posts I hope to set a landscape for which all later posts will stand against.
We hope to have some amazing contributors on this site, the focus of which is to inform and guide development aspects.
There are many questions that are often not asked by players and parents simply because most don’t know to ask. They blindly walk into the confusing and bewildering maze that is football seeking advice from which ever self seeking individual that offers them the best “pipe dream” but never getting or creating the perspective that is unique to each individual’s path.
But enough scary monsters…Let me get back to our ancient Commanders quote and its application to modern football.
There are two basic structures in youth football, “non-elite” and “elite”. While we view elite as the pathway to professional football (by in large it is) there is still a small group, in South Africa not that small, that come through the ranks of the non-elite.
The non-elite football structure has its advantages like later specialization and more rounded individuals as a result. It of course also has its challenges, challenges that I firmly believe in large part are down to perception rather than reality.
The take away I would like you all to have from this piece is focused on the Elite structure. The two extreme models of “elite” are pure development, where training method is everything, and recruitment, where finding talent and short term yard sticking drive success.
In the former resources are focused towards the hiring and education of coaches before that of recruiting. Squads are kept small and hyper competitive, with player assessments happening frequently.
The other extreme side of the coin is that of the “Collection” model. This is where recruiting is the most important objective, where squads are large and the structure may even have numerous teams in each age group. Player turnover is often high and coaching very generic and curriculum based.
To me neither of these are ideal, as in case one often the clear pathway and exposure is missed and in the later despite high exposure and perceived success player never reach their full potential. The ultimate goal is somewhere between the two extremes.
Often players and their parents are lured in to believing a structure is elite because it has the title “Academy” attached to it. They need to be more discerning about where there child goes to reach their “victory”.
While I’m on that, parents (the custodians for the child’s pathway) need to be more pragmatic about how they guide their children. Too often I see them being lead down the extreme pathway of absolute sacrifice at a young age.
It is like a gardener having a blank packet of seeds and assuming they are going to be those of a prize winning orchid. He gives the plant everything it needs to be the best orchid it can be, only to find later on that the seeds are in fact daisy seeds and he has been stunting its growth.
A child’s “victory” in every single case should be to see them become as complete and competent a human as possible to and become rounded adults capable of good rational decisions and executions and then owning those independently. In short to maximize and own the God given talent they have.
All of this and more will be covered in later blogs, where we can dive into greater depth. For now the best question any parent can ask is Why? Why should we play there? Why do they do that? Why do they ask that? Why don’t they do that? Then be rational about it, take the parent blinkers off and ensure the “Victory” I one.
Till next time,