The Collective Unconscious and the Theory of the Archetypes in an English Football Academy

Zuch, Nicholas Alan (2018) The Collective Unconscious and the Theory of the Archetypes in an English Football Academy. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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In 2011, the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) would aim to improve talent development (TD) in English football academies on a national scale (Premier League, 2011). Nevertheless, many criticisms of TD practices in football are, seemingly, directed towards English clubs, especially regarding a potential neglect/misunderstanding of psychosocial development (Gledhill et al., 2017). Therefore, a new concept for comprehending these phenomena could be beneficial. This study aimed to: 1) reframe talent development and performance in English football academies using Jung’s (2014a) theory of a collective unconscious and Moore and Gillette’s (2013) archetypal concepts and 2) identify theoretical and practical implications of these concepts in TD in English football. This project adopted an interpretivist approach to qualitative inquiry to gather detail-rich data surrounding the lived experience of individuals in an English football academy. A three-stage case study was devised to achieve this. First, a theory-driven exploratory case study (n=6) examined publicly accessible data on professional football players to equip the researcher with context-specific information. Next, eight participant observation sessions were conducted with the under 9 and under 10 age groups (four per age group) of a category three English football academy in the North West of England (n=38). Theory-based sampling was used to select four participants (two per age group) for further investigation. Then, two semi-structured interviews with two academy staff members from this academy were used to supplement the data set. Braun and Clarke’s (2006) process for thematic analysis was applied throughout all three stages. Data analysis lead to the co-creation of three behavioural themes potentially indicative of archetypal access: 1) response to stress/pressure 2) response to trauma/failure and 3) response to challenge. Additionally, data surrounding the dynamics of interpersonal exchanges between players and their internal environments could potentially be used to influence archetypal manifestation. This study tentatively concludes that a Jungian approach to TD in English football could be a useful tool for enhancing the delivery of a holistic ecological approach to TD that effectively manipulates the tenets of the internal and external environments for optimal individual player development. A series of recommendations, intending to assist talent practitioners of this academy and guide academics to potential avenues for further research, are presented.

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