Factors affecting the identification of talented junior-elite footballers: a case study

Reeves, Matthew orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-3903-2910, Roberts, Simon J, McRobert, Allistair P and Littlewood, Martin (2018) Factors affecting the identification of talented junior-elite footballers: a case study. Soccer & Society, 19 (8). pp. 1106-1121. ISSN 1466-0970

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1080/14660970.2018.1432383


The purpose of this study was to identify and examine factors associated with the identification of talented junior-elite footballers. Three data collection methods were employed: (1) document analysis (4 documents), (2) overt observation (~105 h) and (3) 12 semi-structured one-to-one interviews with staff responsible for player recruitment (M = 70 min). Data were analysed using a constant comparative approach, which allowed flexibility and reflexivity throughout the data collection period. Two core themes concerning the identification of talented players at this academy emerged: "structural issues", which were further categorised as: (1) financial; (2) educational; (3) philosophical or cultural; (4) competition amongst clubs; and (5) hours in practice; and "Current performance and potential talent" which covered issues around growth, maturation and development and psycho-social attributes. The paper concludes by suggesting that clubs should be more proactive in understanding the structural issues that affect talent identification processes, and better educating and supporting staff responsible for recruitment activity.

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