inside age ncy.re ut e rs.co m http://insideagency.reuters.

co m/2013/03/fo r-o ur-custo mers-reuters-examines-the-wo rld-o f-so ccer-academies-thro ugho uteuro pe/

For our customers: Reuters examines the world of soccer academies throughout Europe
T he world of soccer academies is perplexing, occasionally uplif ting but also disconcerting, with widely dif f ering approaches to recruitment, education and welf are and hugely contrasting levels of success across Europe’s major leagues. 28 Mar 2013Reuters Agency Reuters reporters have produced a series of in-depth multimedia stories, features and interviews to be issued over the next two days which examine the differing approaches and trends among countries and clubs and address some of the issues and concerns around soccer academies. T his extensive package, which includes video, pictures, and graphics, will have country-by-country overviews of how the academy system works in the major leagues of England, Italy, Germany, France, Spain and the Netherlands as well as in-depth interviews with some of the leading f igures involved in the development of youth f ootball. T he success or otherwise of the academy system and the challenge of addressing welf are and education issues in an environment where there is such an overwhelming pressure to succeed on the pitch are also addressed in a series of illuminating pieces. On March 28 we shall move the following: SOCCER-ACADEMIES/ENGLAND SOCCER-ACADEMIES/ENGLAND-EDUCAT ION SOCCER-ACADEMIES/ENGLAND-BURNOUT (INT ERVIEW) SOCCER-ACADEMIES/ENGLAND-MANCIT Y (INT ERVIEW) SOCCER-ACADEMIES/SPAIN SOCCER-ACADEMIES/SPAIN-BARCELONA (INT ERVIEW) SOCCER-ACADEMIES/GERMANY-FA (INT ERVIEW) SOCCER-ACADEMIES/SWISS (INT ERVIEW) SOCCER-ACADEMIES/STAT IST ICS On March 29 we shall move the following: SOCCER-ACADEMIES/GERMANY SOCCER-ACADEMIES/ITALY

SOCCER-ACADEMIES/ITALY-MILAN (INT ERVIEW) SOCCER-ACADEMIES/FRANCE SOCCER-ACADEMIES/FRANCE-INF (INT ERVIEW) SOCCER-ACADEMIES/FRANCE-T OULOUSE SOCCER-ACADEMIES/NET HERLANDS SOCCER-ACADEMIES/NET HERLANDS-FEYENOORD (INT ERVIEW) SOCCER-ACADEMIES/SWEDEN (INT ERVIEW) Keywords: SOCCER ACADEMIES/ Learn more about the world of soccer academies throughout Europe: Comparing like with like is not always easy as what qualif ies as an “academy” or youth player in one country dif f ers f rom the criteria of another while some clubs are reluctant to release f igures of their success rate, or otherwise. However, many aspects are universal as thousands of children, of ten starting f rom as young as seven, are plucked f rom their local clubs and pumped through the system, all dreaming that they will make it as prof essional players. Almost none of them will. Some will survive cull af ter cull as they grow up and a tiny percentage, probably less than one in 1,000 taking into account all age groups, will make it to the club’s prof essional ranks. Even among that minute sub-group only a f ew will go on to become f irst-team regulars. Some of the biggest and richest clubs in the game such as 2012 European champions Chelsea and half of Italy’s Serie A seem incapable of , or unwilling to promote their best youth players, despite theoretically having the pick of the nation. Others, like Barcelona, seem to be able to identif y, nurture and keep the cream of their nation’s youth while others such as Ajax Amsterdam have turned player development into a virtual industry, training up then trading young players like commodities f or the long-term good of the club. Spanish clubs currently have around 25 percent of their players as products of their academies and when Barcelona played Levante last year there was a point in the match when all 11 of their team had come through the Barcelona academy. In Italy the f igure is less than eight percent and only now are the biggest Italian clubs getting their acts together. Manchester United have an impressive production line, last year boasting 12 squad players as academy products, while Chelsea have f ailed to achieve their own modest target of getting one academy player into the f irst team every 18 months.Others pref er to ignore the talent on their doorstep and let other smaller clubs do the initial scouting bef ore quite legally “poaching” the best prospects bef ore they reach 16. Clubs can import f oreign youngsters, put them in their academies f or three years and then declare them as “home grown” to satisf y local and UEFA regulations. Financial f air play rules and tightening budgets also have an impact as clubs are f orced to curtail transf er expenditure and look within. Manchester City, a club with seemingly endless resources, have invested a reported 100 million pounds ($152 million) in their new academy knowing that the days of just buying up the world’s best players are numbered. For more than a decade all clubs in Germany’s top-two divisions have had to run a regulated academy in order to be granted a licence to compete. Combined with a structured model to identif y talent f rom kindergarten level, that has helped produce a surge in home-grown talent making it through all the way to the national team. In France, the model includes a central academy run by the f ederation that works with the cream of the crop – and ensures that all its scholars also have a rounded education, spending f our times as long studying than developing their f ootball skills.

Regardless of the success or f ailure in getting players through to the pro ranks, and even with the most thoughtf ul pastoral care and education provision, things can be incredibly dif f icult once the youngsters are into the system. Of ten backed by star-struck parents with dollar signs spinning in f ront of their eyes, no amount of warnings about the f ailure rate and the need f or education and planning f or an alternative career is likely to deter the young players f rom investing their energies into the single-minded pursuit of their one goal. Some clubs take an enlightened approach, working hard on education and welf are and trying to prepare the vast numbers of “rejects” f or what they consider to be lif e on the scrap heap while most of their peers have barely lef t school. It does not stop there either as even those who do get a taste of the prof essional game, and spent most of their lif e entirely f ocused on achieving that target, struggle to adapt to normal lif e if their careers become measured in months rather than decades. A British charity f or ex-f ootballers, Xpro, says that there are over 130 f ormer prof essionals serving time in British jails and most alarmingly 124 of them are under 25.

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

INTERVIEW-Soccer-German youth setup has made quantum leap - FA
Thu, Mar 28 2013

By Christine Soukenka BERLIN, March 28 (Reuters) - Germany's youth programme has made huge advances and is supplying the national team and Bundesliga clubs with a steady stream of top players, according to Football Association (DFB) sports director Robin Dutt. Dozens of talented players have emerged in recent years and the likes of Thomas Mueller, Manuel Neuer, Mesut Ozil and Mario Goetze have made the gradual transition from youth-team footballers to leading internationals. "Borussia Dortmund are a great example with Goetze, Marco Reus and Sven Bender. We have many young players coming out of the academies and I think German football has made a quantum leap," Dutt told Reuters Television in an interview. Mediocre performances by the national team at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 led to the overhauling of the youth system by the triple world and European champions. "There is superb work being done now in the academies, some very skilful and tactical training," said Dutt. "It started in 1998 with the first talent development programme and in 2002 came the first youth academies. You could not yet see the fruits of that labour at Euro 2004, that is why we were knocked out early in Portugal, but after that it has been only up." FIRST TIME At Euro 2012 Germany had nine players under 23 compared to one - Sebastian Deisler - in the same competition 12 years earlier. "The fruits could be seen at the 2006 World Cup for the first time and in recent years at club level too. There are more and more younger players emerging," Dutt said. Germany have reached the semi-finals in the two major competitions every time since 2006 and at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa they fielded their youngest tournament team in 76 years. This season three Bundesliga teams progressed beyond the Champions League group stages, with Dortmund and Bayern Munich getting to the quarter-finals. Bayern have twice reached the Champions League final in the past three seasons, relying on a core of their own players with Mueller, Toni Kroos, Holger Badstuber, Diego Contento, Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Under rules established more than a decade ago all clubs in the top two divisions must have regularly-rated youth academies in order to be granted a licence to compete. Similar conditions do not exist in other countries, said the German Soccer League (DFL). As part of the licensing programme for the 2011-12 season, the clubs in the top two tiers pumped more than 100 million euros ($129.97 million) into their academies, taking the overall tally since 2001 to more than 713 million euros of direct youth investment. ACADEMIES DOMINATE The youth systems of the clubs have helped increase the amount of home-grown players and the most recent DFL statistics for the 2010-11 season show 275 out of 525 in the Bundesliga - a staggering 50-plus percent - emerged from the academies. This has also fed into the national teams with every Germany Under-21 footballer in the 2009-10 season having been a product of the academies and 21 players out of 24 in the Under-20 team. Apart from the professional clubs, there is also a systematic development programme led by the DFB. A four-tier model starts at kindergarten and includes local club level and school development all the way to talent and elite programmes at DFB bases around the country. The idea is no outstanding player at any level will go undiscovered. "We have a very wide net in Germany. We have state federations, we have DFB bases, we have youth academies with their
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CH1BH20130328 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

elite schools, we have the youth national teams," said Dutt. "It is practically impossible for a talent to slip through the cracks. "It is also good to have a second level. Not everyone can play in the Under-16, Under-17 national teams...(Germany international) Andre Schuerrle first emerged in the Under-19s for example. "Goetze has been there from the Under-15s so we have a lot of catch basins providing different ways of becoming an international." ($1 = 0.7694 euros) (Writing by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CH1BH20130328

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

INTERVIEW-Soccer-Swiss boss says teenagers get their kicks abroad
Thu, Mar 28 2013

By Brian Homewood March 28 (Reuters) - Swiss champions FC Basel, renowned for their youth development programme, face a constant battle to stop teenage players moving to English, Spanish and Italian clubs. President Bernhard Heusler told Reuters in an interview that parents often do not listen to the club when warned against taking their sons elsewhere. "We get enormous pressure from outside, including English clubs," said Heusler before adding Basel were powerless to stop their youngsters leaving before the age of 16. "We cannot bind them until they reach 16 so foreign clubs just take them," he said. "There are some specific rules but you can easily circumvent them and before they reach 16 there is a huge fight for these players from English, Italian and Spanish clubs," explained Heusler. "We try to explain to a father why his son should stay but often these extremely talented guys are second generation immigrants, maybe the financial circumstances of their families are not the best and they get offers from big clubs in England who promise everything." Heusler said it nearly always ended in tears when a player left at a young age. "Of those who have left us at 14, 15 or 16, none of them have been successful...I think maybe one is the third goalkeeper at West Ham United or Arsenal," he added. "There are many who left too early. We just had a player from our squad go to Manchester City - all of the coaches on our staff said he would not even make it with Basel yet he is going to City and he is 15 or 16." Basel last year sold two of their brightest home-grown players to Bundesliga clubs with Xherdan Shaqiri joining Bayern Munich and fellow midfielder Granit Xhaka moving to Borussia Moenchengladbach. The Swiss champions try to fill one-third of their squad with youth products. "Either we develop them from 10 or 11 or our scouts in Switzerland find them at the age of 14 or 15 and try to integrate them," said Heusler. "The ones who have been successful are the ones who stayed in the country like Xhaka and Shaqiri." NOT THINKING Heusler said the players who stayed with the club were encouraged to learn other professions in case they failed to make the grade in football. "We are putting a lot of emphasis on education and interestingly we are fighting against parents and agents for these guys to get the time and opportunity to do the education we offer," he said. "But we realise we are swimming against the tide. One mistake that is often made is these guys are put into the hands of people who try to influence them not to think too much and delegate their thinking to another person," explained Heusler. "We prefer them to learn to think for themselves, to take charge of their lives, to learn how to fill out a tax return, but often this is all taken away." Heusler said he was baffled by some of the things he had seen. "We just had a 13-year-old player from South America," said Basel's president. "He had one week's training with an Under14 team here. "From us he went to Germany. Our coach said the player was okay but he was not exceptional. "Imagine it. Now he will go around Europe and maybe at 16 he will be the victim of all this, he will have failed and he will have to go back to his family," said Heusler. "It's a lack of responsibility, there is just greed to make money. By the time they are 18 or 19 they realise they have failed and they are broken." (Editing by Tony Jimenez)
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CH2S620130328 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-Ajax have Europe's most prolific academy - survey
Thu, Mar 28 2013

By Brian Homewood BERNE, March 28 (Reuters) - Ajax Amsterdam have the most prolific academy in Europe for producing young talent while Slovakian clubs lead the way in terms of fielding home-grown players, according to a report from a Swiss-based institute. The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) conducted a survey of Europe's most competitive 31 leagues last year and found 69 players who had been coached at the Dutch club. Four-times European champions Ajax were followed by Partizan Belgrade, Hajduk Split and Barcelona with Sporting Lisbon and MTK Budapest level in fifth place. CIES considered a "club-trained player" to be someone who had spent at least three seasons with a team between the ages of 15 and 21. In Ajax's case it included Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg SV), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Urby Emanuelson (Fulham), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur), Gregory van der Wiel (Paris St Germain) and Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma). Swede Zlatan Ibrahimovic, South African Steven Pienaar and Uruguay's Luis Suarez also played for the Dutch side early in their careers but did not qualify as club-trained players under the report's criteria. POOREST LEAGUES Clubs in the poorest leagues generally fielded the highest proportion of footballers from their own academies, with an average figure of around 27 percent. These leagues included Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belarus and Finland. "For teams whose championships are of limited financial means, the setting up of a sporting and economic model based on the value-added development of young talents depends strongly on their ability to coach them," said the report. The figure dropped to only 17.2 percent for the big five leagues of England, France, Italy, Germany and Spain and was even lower at 15.2 percent in the next richest group including Portugal, Scotland, Netherlands, Turkey, Greece and Russia. The percentage varied substantially between leagues of a similar level. Among the poorer leagues Slovakia boasted an average of 40 percent of players at clubs where they had been coached but this dropped to 11 percent in Cyprus. The report said for many clubs it was simply impossible to hang on to their own players for long. "For a majority the only viable goal is to coach and add value to young players and transfer them to wealthier clubs," it explained. "Many teams with limited resources are in a chronic situation of financial and managerial instability that goes against the setting up of long-term coaching policies and giving young talent their chance. "This instability is reinforced by intermediaries with increasing influence whose personal gain is the sale and purchase of players and who rely on the networks associated with coaches and heads of clubs," the report added. (Editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CJDHG20130328 1/1

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-Barcelona and Ajax models rescue Toulouse
Fri, Mar 29 2013

By Jean Décotte TOULOUSE, France, March 29 (Reuters) - Twelve years after they went bankrupt, Toulouse have become one of the most consistent clubs in Ligue 1 thanks to an academy based on the successful Barcelona and Ajax Amsterdam models. The club were relegated to the third tier of French soccer in 2001 as a result of their financial problems and were forced to pin their hopes on their youngsters. Success came almost instantly as they needed only two seasons to climb back up to the top flight where they have remained ever since. "The club bounced back thanks to the academy," first team coach Alain Casanova told Reuters. The key has been instilling a Barcelona-style system whereby all the teams throughout the club play the same way to make it easier for players to slot into the first team when their time comes. "We have tried to implement an overall project based on a specific play scheme, as great clubs like Barcelona or Ajax have done," Casanova, who has managed the first team since 2008 and been the driving force behind the academy ideas, said. "The idea is to have all the teams playing the same way and emphasise the collective work." The club's financial situation has improved but they still rely heavily on home-grown players. Eight of the 11 starters fielded in a league game against Lorient in early December came from the academy, including France internationals Moussa Sissoko and Etienne Capoue. SHARP PASSING Although Toulouse are not often praised for their style of play, which is based more on physical strength than technical skills and passing, Casanova would like to introduce more of the latter. "I have tried to implement an overall project from the football school, with the little kids, to the professional squad," he said. "I want the first team to produce a collective play, based on possession, sharp passing, and the whole plan is based on that. "When the players you raise have learnt the same play, you save a lot time. They don't need time to adapt to the first team play. And we also bring five to 10 teenagers from the academy each time the pro squad train to get them used to this." Toulouse's academy, eighth in the French Federation rankings, has 65 players aged from 15 to 18, plus the pre-academy ones and the 120 boys from the football school aged between 7 and 12. The academy has an annual budget of 2 to 3 million euros ($2.57-$3.86 million) and in the past five seasons three academy graduates have made it to the first team, according to its director, Remy Loret. "I'm particularly proud of the fact that it has started and it's working," Casanova said. "Whether I'll be here for a long time or not, I think this plan has put the club on track. It's like Ajax or Barcelona: people will come and go but the philosophy and the method will last." ($1 = 0.7777 euros) (Reporting by Jean Decotte; Writing by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Sonia Oxley) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL5N0CI1RH20130329

1/1

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-Botafogo look to revive neglected junior ranks
Fri, Mar 29 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 29 (Reuters) - Unlike teams such as Santos, Sao Paulo and Internacional, years have passed since a young player came out of Botafogo's youth scheme to reach the Brazil side or fame abroad. Yet, every week about 100 Brazilian boys knock on the doors of the club from Rio, the majority from the poorest neighbourhoods, looking for a place in the academy of the club that boast former Netherlands midfielder Clarence Seedorf as their top player. "Our players are already born with that technique and that dream of becoming footballers. We have hundreds of players coming in all the time for trials, between 100 and 150 players turn up for trials every week," academy coordinator Ney Junior told Reuters. In the 1950s and 1960s, Botafogo were a top Brazilian team with Pele's Santos. Two outstanding players who emerged at the club went on to win the World Cup twice with Brazil in 1958 and 1962 - Garrincha and Nilton Santos. But since the 1970s generation of world champions Jairzinho and Paulo Cesar Lima, who also came through Botafogo's junior ranks, the team stopped producing their own talent and this was reflected in a drop in the club's standing on the national scene. In contrast, Flamengo, Internacional, Sao Paulo and more recently Santos invested in their academies and became purveyors of the biggest names in Brazilian football right up to the emergence of Neymar at Santos. SOUTH AMERICAN TREND Given the poor financial state of most of Brazil's clubs, who have accumulated years of debts, academies have become a key source of income for the teams who sell off young talent as soon as there is an offer from abroad, not just from rich western European clubs but also eastern Europe and Asia. This trend, which has grown over the last decade as club costs have soared throughout South America, has also taken root in Argentina where teams have tended to sell teenage players well before most have developed their talent enough to succeed abroad. "We lose our players very early on. When talking about Brazil's national team, the player leaves the country at 16, 17, 18, so we lose a player, an athlete, who doesn't develop a relationship with his own country and the national team, and then he rarely comes back to play any games because his club becomes a priority," Junior said. Obliged by market conditions and poor results to search again for young talent, Botafogo's plan has begun to bear fruit. The Botafogo team who this month won the regional Guanabara Cup, led by Seedorf, included three players from the club's juniors in the final against Vasco da Gama. Central defender Doria, 18, stood out and media reports say he is a target for Italy's Juventus. Doria, who entered the Botafogo academy at 14, is though a rare success story among the hundreds of boys who try their luck at the club every week. Among the few who make it, even getting to the professional first team is a struggle that demands staying power amid poor quality training facilities, lodgings and family money problems. "The thing (that hurts us) is the infrastructure and the family support which is not adequate. Also when it comes to nutrition and to general knowledge, (our) kids are much less well rounded than (young Europeans). In those things we also lag behind," said Junior. (Reporting by Brazil TV, writing by Pedro Fonseca/Rex Gowar, editing by Mark Meadows) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CJPM820130329 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-German youth work, a success story for club and country
Fri, Mar 29 2013

By Karolos Grohmann BERLIN, March 29 (Reuters) - The fact German footballers, traditionally renowned for their efficiency and discipline, earned international praise for their skilful attacking performances at the 2010 World Cup should have been a give-away. Three German teams advancing beyond the Champions League group stage this season then provided further confirmation the country was cashing in on more than 10 years of meticulous and significant investment in youth academies. It all started with mediocre results at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. With international dominance having defined Germany's role in world soccer for almost 50 years, it was time for a fresh look at the grassroots level. "A series of measures have paid off and have been implemented since about 2000," Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said recently. "Finally attention was paid to youth work and promoting talent. German football became fresher, younger, more dynamic and technically better." Bierhoff was referring to a solid and well-funded youth system that has gradually allowed Bundesliga clubs to tap into a rich source of talent. From the German Football League (DFL), which is in charge of the top two divisions, to the national football association (DFB), the clubs and the individual federal states, soccer chiefs created a web of youth development. Particular attention was paid to the very young with the DFB setting up mobile coaching units, travelling across the country to visit schools and clubs and advising locally on training methods. "Our area is every single club in Germany. Every professional player once started their career at a small club," said the DFB's Christine Lehmann on a recent coaching trip for the Berlin soccer federation. "This is where the football foundations are laid, that is where the basis is." STRICT RULES Since a new licensing process was put in place in 2002 that forced all clubs in the top two divisions to set up and operate their own academies, more than 700 million euros ($900.12 million) has been pumped into youth work. Apart from developing world-class players like Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller, Mario Goetze and Marco Reus, the programme has gradually fed Bundesliga clubs with more than half of their squad members. "Of the 525 Bundesliga players in season 2010-11, 275 were trained in the youth academies," DFL sports media director Eckart Gutschmidt told Reuters. The figures are a far cry from six years ago when that figure was less than 100 players in the top two divisions. "For the 2011-12 season alone licensed clubs invested more than 100 million euros for the first time," Gutschmidt said. The solid financial foundations of the majority of the top clubs - a result of other strict local ownership and financial rules made the implementation of the youth plan easier than it would have been in other major European countries. Curiously enough Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who needs one more international goal to match the country's all-time top scorer Gerd Mueller (68), is often used as an example of what was going wrong 15 years ago. Klose's senior international career started in 2001, having had no previous experience with his country's youth teams. His is an example of what should not happen again in the future. THROUGH THE CRACKS The talents of Klose, second on the list of appearances for Germany with 126 caps, went undetected for years. "I do not think a career like his is possible any more," Bierhoff said at Euro 2012. With the various levels of youth work, the national federation wants to make sure it identifies and locates talent even if it
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CI2FJ20130329 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

slips through the net at one layer. "We have a wide net in Germany. We have state federations, we have DFB bases, we have youth performance centres with its elite schools and we also have the various junior national teams," DFB sports director Robin Dutt told Reuters. "It is virtually impossible for a talent to slip through the cracks." Germany fielded their youngest World Cup team for 76 years in 2010 en route to third place in the competition, 19 of the 23man squad having gone through the academy system. The Germans also reached the last four at Euro 2012 having made it to the final four years earlier. At club level the investment in youth has contributed to a Bundesliga boom, with bigger names attracted to the league, broadcasting rights sales on the rise and average attendances the best in the world with more than 42,000 per game. HOME-GROWN TALENT German teams have also made their presence felt more in Europe with Bayern Munich reaching the Champions League final twice in the last three years. Bayern and Borussia Dortmund are also through to the last eight this season, both teams relying heavily on home-grown talent. In Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm, Bayern's youth work has paid off handsomely. Germany have also exported talent in recent seasons with Ozil and Sami Khedira, both youth products, joining Real Madrid and Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski signing for Arsenal. "I think the main reason was the obligation of Bundesliga clubs to have a youth academy and the good work being done there," Dutt said. "There are more and more younger players coming through...this is a quantum leap for Germany." The missing piece in the jigsaw is the international trophy that has eluded the triple world and European champions since 1996. Next year's World Cup in Brazil could not be a more fitting time for Germany's skilful youth to end the victory drought. ($1 = 0.7777 euros) (Editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CI2FJ20130329

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-Italy lags behind Europe in academy stakes
Fri, Mar 29 2013

By Terry Daley ROME, March 29 (Reuters) - Italy's biggest clubs are playing catch-up with the rest of Europe as they look to save money by developing their own young talent but the move is hurting some of the other Serie A outfits who boast successful academies. Until very recently, the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan would reinforce their squads by bringing in big names ready to compete at the highest level but the difficult economic climate is forcing them to focus their resources in-house. "The current economic situation combined with new UEFA (financial fair play) regulations has forced Europe's big clubs to invest heavily in youth development," Mauro Bianchessi, AC Milan's head of youth scouting, told Reuters. According to the CIES (International Centre for Sports Studies) Football Observatory's 2013 Demographic Study, Italy has the lowest percentage of players who spent three years at the club they are at now between the ages of 15 and 21. The figure for Italy is 7.8 percent, which falls well below the average for the other four top European leagues (England, Spain, Germany and France) of 17.2 percent. AS Roma's Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi are among the rare examples of players who have stayed at the clubs whose academies they came through but there could soon be more if the big clubs continue their drive towards homegrown talent. This bigger focus by Italy's top clubs on youth development though is, according to Bianchessi, having a negative effect on smaller clubs like Atalanta, who traditionally have had a strong academy and who regularly bring players into their first team. "I worked at Atalanta for 15 years, and have been at Milan since 2006. Back then there was a different economic situation and different aims for the first teams," Bianchessi said. "To win the league or Champions League players were needed who were ready, and therefore not young unless they were phenomenal. "A club like Atalanta, which didn't have these aims, had the opportunity to develop players, put them in the first team and then sell them. And with that money they managed to keep the club going." Atalanta are based in Bergamo in Lombardy, on the doorstep of Milan and Inter, but nonetheless consistently produce footballers capable of playing in the top division. They have eight academy products in their first team squad, and according to the CIES study are Italy's number one club for youth development and eighth in the world. "Smaller clubs like Atalanta are in great difficulty now, as we are a very strong local competitor, and a much bigger club. Over the last few years Inter, Milan and Juventus have been investing heavily in their youth systems," Bianchessi said. ECONOMIC REASONS The Italian footballers' union AIC has been conducting its own study into the future facing Italy's young players, and early figures for the 2009-10 season suggest there is a serious problem with youth development. Of the 1215 players playing in Serie A and B clubs' Primavera sides (oldest youth team age group, aged 15 to 20) that season, only 5 percent now play in Serie A and 11 percent in Serie B. What will be even more shocking to some is that 58 percent do not play professional football at all in Italy. The numbers do not specify those who have moved abroad or are still in their youth set-ups but 22 percent of all Primavera players from that season who are today registered as professional footballers are without a team to play for. Of those who do play professionally in Italy, 58 percent are either on loan to or part-owned by other clubs, 67 percent of them to clubs in the Lega Pro First and Second Divisions (third and fourth tier). According to the AIC, this is because Lega Pro clubs receive financial support from the Italian Football Federation for each player under the age of 22 they field. First Division clubs must field at least two and Second Division clubs three. The AIC report says many clubs at this level exploit this rule "not to invest in promising young players, but only and
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CB25E20130329 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

exclusively for economic reasons". It adds that 54 percent of the footballers playing at Primavera level in 2009/2010 have now left that set-up for good. Of those, 73 percent no longer play professional soccer, and only 9 percent play in Serie A or B. "The (indirect and not wanted) effect of this rule ... is to encourage a 'throwaway' use of players under the age of 22," the report says. "Boys that, in a given year, enable teams to obtain federal contributions, the following year are forced to stop playing professionally, not because they are no longer good enough but because they are no longer under 22." (Editing by Sonia Oxley) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CB25E20130329

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

INTERVIEW-Soccer-Milan academy aims for one De Sciglio a year
Fri, Mar 29 2013

By Terry Daley MILAN, March 29 (Reuters) - AC Milan defender Mattia De Sciglio is the academy success story the club would like to repeat every year as it seeks a better return on its investment in nurturing the next generation of Serie A players. The 20-year-old right back started in the Milan youth system at the age of 10 in 2002 and made his first team debut in 2011, eventually becoming a key player who has tasted Champions League action and been called up by Italy. Academy graduates are a valuable asset to clubs with Milan's head of youth scouting, Mauro Bianchessi, estimating in an interview with Reuters that the academy pays for itself if every three years a player is brought into the first team. As the economic climate bites, Milan want to do better than that and their objective is to get one player each season from the Primavera (oldest youth team age group ranging from 15 to 20) into the first team. "To give you a example, De Sciglio now isn't worth anything less than 10 million euros ($12.96 million), and Alberto Paloschi, another Milan product, was recently part-sold to Chievo (Verona) for around 4 million euros," Bianchessi said. "Next year Bryan Cristante, who is the youngest Milan player to ever debut in the Champions League (third youngest overall), will be in the first team squad at 17 years old. He is an asset and as such is worth money to the club." Milan's academy has 10 categories which begins with training for children as young as 8 years old and finishes with the Primavera. The club tries to help them get used to a potential future life as a footballer by taking them to tournaments around Europe to play against the continent's other top sides. "The development of a player can't only be sporting, but also cultural," Bianchessi said. "We want to develop footballers, obviously, as that's our job, but we also want to develop them into men with a certain cultural outlook." There is also an emphasis on a scientific approach to players' physical development, involving the club's MilanLab research centre. Over the last six years MilanLab has measured players' performances for a variety of physical activities, and grouped the results into player position, actual age and biological age. The biological age is taken from ultrasound analysis of players' bone structure and varies widely among adolescent boys. "That way we can see how players are performing against those at a similar level of physical development, as well as allowing us to compare performance with players from the first team for each position," MilanLab physical trainer Domenico Gualtieri said. "If the club has a player that it considers talented but is physically behind, we look to spend a bit more of our resources on their training." HIGH TARGETS The desire for more academy successes comes amid sobering statistics that show that even reaching the first team is still no guarantee of huge dividends for the club. Of the 21 academy players to make first-team debuts since the 2009-10 season, nine have played for Milan in the league or Europe, although only two of those more than once - De Sciglio and Alexander Merkel, who signed for Udinese in January. Ten of them are currently on loan with Serie B (second tier) and Lega Pro (third and fourth tier) clubs. It does not mean they will not make it with Milan but it shows that cases like that of De Sciglio are rare. "Everyone has their own path at the end of the day, you have to give them time, and there isn't one single path to first team football that works for everyone," Filippo Galli, head of the youth set-up and who played for Milan from 1983 to 1996, said. "For one player it might be best to let them go and play for a year in the Lega Pro, while for another it's better that they stay here and train with the first team, even if they're not going to play.
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CB25O20130329 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

"However at a club like Milan, where the targets and ambitions are very high, it is very rare that a player comes straight up from the youth team to the first team. De Sciglio is the exception that proves the rule." ($1 = 0.7717 euros) (Editing by Sonia Oxley) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CB25O20130329

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-French academy traditions count now more than ever
Fri, Mar 29 2013

By Gregory Blachier PARIS, March 29 (Reuters) - The leading French clubs have relied on their youth academies for decades and in these troubled economic times that policy is more important now than ever. New young faces have surfaced almost every week this season in Ligue 1, among them 16-year-old forward Neal Maupay at Nice and 17-year-old striker Corentin Jean at Troyes. Olympique Lyon, who had to curtail a lavish transfer policy after losing 28 million euros ($36.39 million) last season, ended a Europa League group stage game at Sparta Prague this term with nine players in the side from their academy. The oldest of 33 licensed school of excellence facilities were created in the early 1970s by Nantes and St Etienne. "There is less and less money for transfers these days," Olympique Marseille president Vincent Labrune told reporters recently. "We therefore have to put more resources into our academies to reach a target of 25 percent home-grown professionals." The task is harder for Marseille who are not used to counting on their developing prospects in Ligue 1 having previously groomed the likes of Samir Nasri and Mathieu Flamini only to see them join English team Arsenal early in their careers. Sochaux, who have spent more time (65 years) in the top division than any other club, launched their school of excellence in 1974 and were ranked first in the French Football Federation's (FFF) list of academies last year. "The club could not live without the academy. This is what makes us breathe," director Jean-Luc Ruty told Reuters. Sochaux dedicate 10 percent of their annual budget of 33 million euros to the school of excellence and it paid dividends in February when they beat Paris St Germain in the league with eight home-grown players among the 14 involved. "In the past three years we have sold Marvin Martin (to Lille) and Mevlut Erding (to PSG) for a total of 19 million euros," Ruty said. GOOD EXAMPLE Lille, who have 20 scouts and four video specialists searching Europe for players, are another good example of the way a well-run academy can function. French internationals Mathieu Debuchy and Yohan Cabaye (both Newcastle United) and Belgium's Eden Hazard (Chelsea) came through the ranks at Lille, winning the league title in 2011 before moving to English teams. The success of the academy network has kept France on the radar even when their clubs have had poor campaigns in Europe. This season 24 former youth-team players from Stade Rennes have taken part in the Champions League, according to a CIES (International Centre for Sports Studies) Football Observatory study. Only Barcelona (38), Olympique Lyon (31) and Real Madrid (29) did better. One of the reasons the academy system flourishes throughout France is because of a well-organised structure laid down by the FFF and the League. The clubs must have played in the top two leagues for three successive years in order to get a licensed academy and must also meet high-standards for accommodation, staff and playing conditions. In addition, they cannot have more than 80 players on their books aged from 15 to 18 at any one time or sign more than eight "no request agreements" a year, the deals they offer an Under-15 to make sure he does not join a different team. Rennes, who topped the FFF academy rankings from 2005-11 and recently groomed players like Lyon playmaker Yoann Gourcuff, Queens Park Rangers defender Stephane Mbia and Rubin Kazan midfielder Yann M'Vila, are another good example of how the system works. They target teenagers within a 300-km radius thanks to close partnerships with amateur sides. YOUNG TALENT
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL5N0CH2MP20130329 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

Sochaux and Lille work the same way, the former operating alongside 40 clubs within a 50-km radius in order not to miss a young talent. Rennes never have more than three dozen youngsters aged between 15 and 18 at any one time and make a strong effort to educate them. "There are 11 classrooms and 26 teachers for the academic studies which account for 75 percent of their time. In 2012 all the candidates passed their final high-school exam," director Patrick Rampillon said. "We don't regard a kid who has not turned professional as a failure. He can bounce back and make it somewhere else." Rennes share this philosophy with most of the French academies, knowing that only around 80 deals are offered each year to roughly 800 players in the same age range. "Our goal is to nurse players and men," said Patrick Battiston, director of the academy at Girondins Bordeaux. The issue became even more sensitive after the 2010 World Cup scandal when France players refused to train in protest at Nicolas Anelka's dismissal from the squad and there were other disciplinary problems. "The most difficult thing is to get used to the new generation. We used to spend 30 percent of our time educating them and 70 percent teaching football - now it's the opposite," said Lille academy director Jean-Michel Vandamme. ($1 = 0.7694 euros) (Editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL5N0CH2MP20130329

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

INTERVIEW-Soccer-French academies about education and mental power
Fri, Mar 29 2013

By Gregory Blachier PARIS, March 29 (Reuters) - Education and mental strength are the main development targets for young academy players because most will fail to make a living from soccer, according to French national institute (INF) director Gerard Precheur. With only around 10 percent of prospects eventually turning professional, the INF believe it is important to help the youngsters grow not just as footballers but as men as well. "Education is key because it helps the boys to feel good and deliver their full potential, athletic as well as intellectual," Precheur told Reuters in an interview. "You have to be honest with the boys and their parents - most of them won't be professional players." Precheur has had plenty of experience dealing with youngsters, having worked with players aged from 13 to 15 at the INF for a dozen years and been director since 2010. While most domestic clubs have had academies for decades, the INF is part of a national push by the French Football Federation (FFF) to coach the youth and it has led to the launch of 14 other similar regional structures. The INF, located at the national team's training camp at Clairefontaine 50-km south west of Paris, has a glittering array of former pupils like ex-French internationals Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka, and Paris St Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi. The institute has also been praised for its approach to general education. INF teenagers take two-year scholarships and spend six hours a day on general education and two more on homework while football takes up two and a half hours. OVERALL DEVELOPMENT Ball skills are fundamental when it comes to choosing 25 boys a year from the 2,000 candidates but the institute also looks for kids who are serious about their overall development. "I have insisted on mental strength...for years," said Precheur. "I also focus on their ability to analyse information on and off the pitch. "From the mental point of view we have many criteria. First we look at the school reports - we aren't overly interested in their results but more in their attitude, their behaviour. "A couple of supervisors watch them on the pitch, during training and matches in order to assess if they are involved in the team work, if they put heart into it," added Precheur. "Then we ask them to fill in a questionnaire and we set up interviews with me or a coach and a psychologist." Although the process has proved efficient, according to Precheur, it is clear the INF have had to continue progressing themselves to adapt to modern demands. "We have to spend more time and energy to educate the kids and we regret that," he said. "It's been harder and harder for us," he added while pointing out the need to teach the basics to some of the teenagers like waking up on time, meeting their daily schedule, respecting the people around them. "Some of them have not learned it at home. Sometimes you even have to start with the key words - hello, please, thank you. But you have to fight to go further than that." The national team have not given the best example to the kids in recent years. Some players refused to train at the 2010 World Cup when Nicolas Anelka was sent home by then-coach Raymond Domenech who also had other disciplinary problems to contend with in South Africa. "The boys and their families have changed because the whole of society has changed," said Precheur. "The other big issue is motivation and this is what worries me the most especially when we have to deal with the families. A lot of them just ask, 'How much money will we make from football?'.
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL6N0CEEZ520130329 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

"Unfortunately it's more difficult with the gifted boys because they have been used to having everything without making any effort," added Precheur. "They have been match-winners since they were six and have been given extra liberties. The professional clubs target them at the age of 11, 12. "When they arrive at the INF they have already had everything without fighting for it. You then have to work hard to make the kids understand that talent won't be enough to have a great career." (Editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL6N0CEEZ520130329

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

INTERVIEW-Soccer-Djordjic hails Bromma's Swedish academy
Fri, Mar 29 2013

By Philip O'Connor STOCKHOLM, March 29 (Reuters) - When Swedish midfielder Bojan Djordjic told his new Manchester United team mates in 1999 that he had left Europe's biggest club to move to Old Trafford, few of them had even heard of Brommapojkarna. However, boasting more than 270 youth teams and 4,000 players, the team from the Stockholm suburb of Bromma suggest they are exactly that. "What they specialise in is youth players," the 31-year-old Djordjic told Reuters at the top-flight club's Grimsta ground. "They know they don't have to bring them all the way through to their first team. "They have a choice, if they're good enough, to go somewhere else," said the much-travelled Swede who is now back playing at the club after spending 14 years abroad. Brommapojkarna, the translation is 'Bromma Boys', have long since been a production line for top footballers with the likes of Djordjic, Manchester City striker John Guidetti and Cagliari midfielder Albin Ekdal having gone through their academy. Djordjic left Sweden as a teenager to join the youth ranks at United and he said there were plenty of similarities between his first club and the triple European champions in the way they treated youngsters. "They (Brommapojkarna) are not typically a Swedish club," he explained. "They take a chance on very young players, they scout through the youth ranks all over Sweden. "They look at youth players at the age of 10, 11, 12 and see which ones have a chance of making it." Competitive football at the lower-age groups is frowned upon in Sweden although Djordjic believes that learning a winning mentality at a young age is vital if players are to succeed at the top level. "People say in Sweden, 'It's too early to push players', but if you combine learning to be part of a team with learning to win, then you have both elements," he said. GOOD PREPARATION Djordjic, who won the Young Player of the Year award at United in 2000, said his early days with Bromma were good preparation for his move to England. "United are one of the biggest clubs in the world - you have eyes on you much more even if you are playing at Under-17 or Under-19 level," he added. "There was pressure, fans were saying 'This one is up and coming', and when you get the tag of an 'up and coming star' at United all eyes are on you. If you fail people are going to be on your case but I enjoyed it," Djordjic said. "I trained with the first team at 17, 18. I got the respect of some of the biggest players in the world and I'm still in contact with them. "Maybe I didn't make it as a player there but as a human being I left a trace on one of the biggest clubs in the world," said Djordjic who barely played for United's first team before joining Rangers in 2005 following a series of loan moves. His career also took him to Serbia, Denmark, Hungary and Belgium as well as a spell at AIK Stockholm where he won the top-flight championship in 2009. Djordjic won league titles in three different countries and he hopes the experience he has gained on his travels can help his young team mates at Bromma. "I have to set an example in the dressing room and on the pitch and to get that winning mentality through," he said. "The best thing is when you talk to a young player for six months and then you see that he's trying to do what you tell him, instead of just waving you off. "I've seen the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Paul Scholes at United. If you've seen guys like that train and you don't learn something, you're stupid." Djordjic, who intends to coach at the club when his playing days are over, said Swedish football needed to concentrate on developing the technique of their youngsters in order to replace leading exports like Paris St Germain striker Zlatan
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL4N0AQ4SV20130329 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

Ibrahimovic. "Bromma are still the only club who teach the very young players how to receive and pass a ball," he explained. "If you don't learn by 17, 18, I cannot teach you - for me, you're already a player. "When Zlatan hangs his boots up there's going to be a massive hole for Swedish football to fill." (Editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL4N0AQ4SV20130329

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-German youth work, a success story for club and country
Fri, Mar 29 2013

By Karolos Grohmann BERLIN, March 29 (Reuters) - The fact German footballers, traditionally renowned for their efficiency and discipline, earned international praise for their skilful attacking performances at the 2010 World Cup should have been a give-away. Three German teams advancing beyond the Champions League group stage this season then provided further confirmation the country was cashing in on more than 10 years of meticulous and significant investment in youth academies. It all started with mediocre results at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. With international dominance having defined Germany's role in world soccer for almost 50 years, it was time for a fresh look at the grassroots level. "A series of measures have paid off and have been implemented since about 2000," Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said recently. "Finally attention was paid to youth work and promoting talent. German football became fresher, younger, more dynamic and technically better." Bierhoff was referring to a solid and well-funded youth system that has gradually allowed Bundesliga clubs to tap into a rich source of talent. From the German Football League (DFL), which is in charge of the top two divisions, to the national football association (DFB), the clubs and the individual federal states, soccer chiefs created a web of youth development. Particular attention was paid to the very young with the DFB setting up mobile coaching units, travelling across the country to visit schools and clubs and advising locally on training methods. "Our area is every single club in Germany. Every professional player once started their career at a small club," said the DFB's Christine Lehmann on a recent coaching trip for the Berlin soccer federation. "This is where the football foundations are laid, that is where the basis is." STRICT RULES Since a new licensing process was put in place in 2002 that forced all clubs in the top two divisions to set up and operate their own academies, more than 700 million euros ($900.12 million) has been pumped into youth work. Apart from developing world-class players like Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller, Mario Goetze and Marco Reus, the programme has gradually fed Bundesliga clubs with more than half of their squad members. "Of the 525 Bundesliga players in season 2010-11, 275 were trained in the youth academies," DFL sports media director Eckart Gutschmidt told Reuters. The figures are a far cry from six years ago when that figure was less than 100 players in the top two divisions. "For the 2011-12 season alone licensed clubs invested more than 100 million euros for the first time," Gutschmidt said. The solid financial foundations of the majority of the top clubs - a result of other strict local ownership and financial rules made the implementation of the youth plan easier than it would have been in other major European countries. Curiously enough Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who needs one more international goal to match the country's all-time top scorer Gerd Mueller (68), is often used as an example of what was going wrong 15 years ago. Klose's senior international career started in 2001, having had no previous experience with his country's youth teams. His is an example of what should not happen again in the future. THROUGH THE CRACKS The talents of Klose, second on the list of appearances for Germany with 126 caps, went undetected for years. "I do not think a career like his is possible any more," Bierhoff said at Euro 2012. With the various levels of youth work, the national federation wants to make sure it identifies and locates talent even if it
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CI2FJ20130329 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

slips through the net at one layer. "We have a wide net in Germany. We have state federations, we have DFB bases, we have youth performance centres with its elite schools and we also have the various junior national teams," DFB sports director Robin Dutt told Reuters. "It is virtually impossible for a talent to slip through the cracks." Germany fielded their youngest World Cup team for 76 years in 2010 en route to third place in the competition, 19 of the 23man squad having gone through the academy system. The Germans also reached the last four at Euro 2012 having made it to the final four years earlier. At club level the investment in youth has contributed to a Bundesliga boom, with bigger names attracted to the league, broadcasting rights sales on the rise and average attendances the best in the world with more than 42,000 per game. HOME-GROWN TALENT German teams have also made their presence felt more in Europe with Bayern Munich reaching the Champions League final twice in the last three years. Bayern and Borussia Dortmund are also through to the last eight this season, both teams relying heavily on home-grown talent. In Thomas Mueller, Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm, Bayern's youth work has paid off handsomely. Germany have also exported talent in recent seasons with Ozil and Sami Khedira, both youth products, joining Real Madrid and Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski signing for Arsenal. "I think the main reason was the obligation of Bundesliga clubs to have a youth academy and the good work being done there," Dutt said. "There are more and more younger players coming through...this is a quantum leap for Germany." The missing piece in the jigsaw is the international trophy that has eluded the triple world and European champions since 1996. Next year's World Cup in Brazil could not be a more fitting time for Germany's skilful youth to end the victory drought. ($1 = 0.7777 euros) (Editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CI2FJ20130329

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-Feyenoord rival Ajax in Dutch academy stakes
Fri, Mar 29 2013

By Theo Ruizenaar ROTTERDAM, March 29 (Reuters) - Ajax Amsterdam once set the gold standard for youth development but, now their methods have been copied around the world, the four-times European champions do not even lead the way in their own country. Arch-rivals Feyenoord are setting the pace these days and attracting the cream of fledgling Dutch talent, crucially keeping them in their own team. Forty-eight percent of Feyenoord's players this season are home-grown, the highest proportion in the league, while the figure at their rivals from Amsterdam is 34 percent. NAC Breda are second on the list with 38 percent but Heracles Almelo fare the worst with none of their 23 players having come through the academy. The International Centre for Sports Studies (CIES) conducted a survey of Europe's most competitive 31 leagues last year and found 69 players had been coached by Ajax, the highest amount across the continent, but most of the players have left the club. Ajax's most recent Champions League triumph, under coach Louis van Gaal in 1995, included seven youth products - an usually high proportion at the time. Since then the club have more often taken the buying option rather than allowing young players the chance to adjust to senior soccer, with many having to prove themselves elsewhere. "All modern ideas on how to develop youngsters begin with Ajax," said Huw Jennings, an architect of the English youthdevelopment system. "They are the founding fathers." The club put young players in a competitive cauldron, a culture of constant improvement where they either survive and advance or are discarded. It is not a child-friendly environment and sorts out the real prodigies from the merely gifted but in the first decade of the millennium only Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart really broke through from the Ajax academy. Some critics suggested their system had become too cold-blooded. "I feel like they've lost some of the spirit of the place and what made them great," said former U.S. youth coach John Hackworth. "These heroes they create now go on to stardom so quickly somewhere else." INDIVIDUAL TRAINING The diminishing returns from the Ajax youth department was one of the reasons Dutch great Johan Cruyff began his 'velvet' revolution in 2011, a philosophy that changed the club's academy. With Wim Jonk in charge of the youngsters, the club now focus on individual training. It will take years, though, to make up the lost ground and bring the club back to the top of European football which they dominated in the early 1970s. "Winning is just one aspect of the game. There is much more that needs to be improved," said Cruyff, who now coaches Catalonia. "When the youth teams focus on results it is the physically strong players who draw more attention but there is much more that needs attention. "You need to train individually with a coach who can make you better. That should be the objective." Ronald de Jong, an Ajax scout, explained the way he works at the club. "I never look for a result, for example which boy is scoring the most goals or even who is running the fastest," he told Michael Sokolove in the New York Times. "That may be because of their size and stage of development. "I want to notice how a boy runs. Is he on his forefeet, running lightly? Does he have creativity with the ball? Does he seem he is really loving the game?
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CD7S920130329 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

"I think these things are good at predicting how he'll be when he is older," added De Jong. Every top-flight Dutch club has its own youth programme but the youngsters always need someone willing to give their talents an opportunity in the first team. Leading coaches such as Bert van Marwijk, Martin Jol, Dick Advocaat and Steve McClaren have preferred experienced players. Marco van Basten, who began his glittering senior career at Ajax, splashed out 30 million euros ($38.85 million) on signings when he took over as coach in 2008. FINANCIAL DIFFICULTIES The Netherlands youth programme has been successful over the last decade, with the Under-21s winning the European Championship in 2006 and 2007 and the Under-17s landing back-to-back titles in the equivalent competition. Feyenoord have been forced by financial difficulties to focus on youngsters and this season they are battling for their first championship since 1999 with seven players aged between 18 and 23 having come through the academy. In the 1990s left back Giovanni van Bronckhorst broke through from the club's youth set-up before building an impressive international career. Netherlands striker Robin van Persie also came through Feyenoord's academy before moving on to Arsenal and then Manchester United. "We try to bring players into our youth department before they are 15 because then you can really teach them," said Stanley Brard, head of the club's youth academy. "We focus on players as individuals but besides that we try to create a core of six or seven players in each team who stay together throughout the youth programme." The main target is to deliver two players each season to Feyenoord's first team. Eighteen-year-old midfielder Tonny Vilhena has not just broken into the senior side, he has also been called up to the Netherlands squad. Two years ago three Under-21 internationals - Georginio Wijnaldum, Leroy Fer and Luc Castagnois - were sold by Feyenoord for a combined 14 million euros. ($1 = 0.7722 euros) (Editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CD7S920130329

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-Enlightened clubs prepare youngsters for rocky road ahead
Thu, Mar 28 2013

By Mike Collett LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - There is much more to becoming a top-class footballer these days than having the ability to dribble the ball like World Player of the Year Lionel Messi or score goals like Real Madrid's dynamic Cristiano Ronaldo. The best players also need mental toughness based on social skills that include self-awareness, the ability to understand team mates and a positive mental attitude honed by years of pastoral support provided by the clubs. Some of the more enlightened teams are increasingly turning to educational experts such as former head and deputy head teachers Steve Pisano and Kristian Sorensen who set up the LifeSkills Sports firm to aid the development of young players. Pisano, 56, had trials with lower-league English club Millwall as a youngster and later played in the United States while Sorensen, 38, turned out for various semi-professional sides. Both are still involved in coaching at minor-league and grassroots level, independent of their projects in the professional game. Now they are adapting their specialist skills honed in senior education to help clubs improve all aspects of the development of young players at their academies, giving them an added edge before they hopefully set out on long and successful professional careers. The players need all the help they can get to thrive in what is an increasingly competitive world and also need guidance in how to cope when their footballing days are over. Players' charity Xpro says that more than 130 former professionals are in British jails, 124 aged under-25, as they struggle to adapt to life having been feted and had everything done for them from an early age. FULHAM AND PALACE Two of the clubs LifeSkills Sports work with, Premier League Fulham and second tier Crystal Palace, have almost 400 boys between them on their junior books from Under-nines through to the Under-21 development squads. A fraction are likely to make it all the way to the top, though. "What we are offering the clubs is a detailed social and psychological profile of a young player's strengths and areas of development," Pisano told Reuters. "We also help the clubs see where they are succeeding in building up young players. Our data provides them with a total analysis of where their successes are. "The key things we provide are the mechanisms to promote a young player's self-confidence, to help boost their selfesteem and self-image and help strengthen their social skills so they can be the best player they can be," added Pisano. "You need confidence, a secure self-image and a positive mental attitude to be a top-class footballer and we help clubs help their players develop these skills." LifeSkills Sports have close links with an educational support company and survey the young players, providing hard data for the clubs who guide them along the rocky road from Under-nines to first-team level. "As we are based in London we focused on Fulham in the Premier League and Crystal Palace, who could be back in the Premier League next season, because of their values in developing youngsters," said Pisano. "Palace have got one of the best academy to first-team ratios in the country, they have a strong commitment to recruiting from the local community and a strong pastoral approach to their players. "Fulham are the absolute benchmark community club in the Premier League. They have a high ratio of academy players to development squad, if not first team as well," added Pisano. "Just talking to the staff in the academies you can tell they are seeking very high standards of performance from the players but they also have a very holistic view of how you bring on a player in terms of their all-round personal development. ASPIRING SPORTSMEN "At Palace and Fulham they spend a lot of time supporting the social and psychological aspects of a player," said Pisano.
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CA2RP20130328 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

"Our basic philosophy is to support the social and emotional skills that can not only help prepare aspiring elite sportsmen and women to achieve their best as players but we also want them to develop social skills that are transferable in any situation they are in. "These social skills involve understanding yourself and communicating with others and help the development of a player on the field. Can you communicate and work effectively with your team mates so you get the best out of them, for example?" LifeSkills Sports use a tool called FAST - Footballer Attitudes to Self and Team - which helps assess players across nine key areas including self-regard, preparation for learning, views of staff, feelings about the club and work ethic. "What this is really all about is teaching these youngsters how to be a footballer in the modern age," said Pisano. "It is not just about what they can do on the field. "The clubs spend a lot of time getting them to review and reflect on their own development. They want their young players to be equipped to learn. "Not every player is going to make it to the top but there are mechanisms in place to support those who don't and keep them in the game perhaps initially at a lower level," added Pisano. (Editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL3N0CA2RP20130328

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-Money no object as English elite chase new Wayne Rooney
Thu, Mar 28 2013

By Martyn Herman LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) - Whether by design, necessity, self-interest or because of all three, nurturing youngsters has become fashionable for England's elite with no expense spared in the hunt for the new Wayne Rooney or Steven Gerrard. The length and breadth of the country, scouts from top clubs are hoovering up promising footballers barely old enough to tie their bootlaces in a bid to unearth the 30 million pounds ($45.40 million) treasures of the future. Plucked from park pitches often as young as seven or eight and fed into the youth system, those who survive the annual culls are rewarded at 16 with two-year contracts in state-of-the-art academies where all their needs are met. Manchester City, arguably the world's richest club, have the financial muscle to buy any player but, with UEFA's financial fair play rules now kicking in, are also ploughing 100 million pounds into training facilities for their fledgling kids. The Premier League is pumping 350 million pounds into its Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) - a new blueprint for the academy system that has been around since 1998. The mission statement is to create "more and better home-grown players", like Manchester United striker Rooney, a product of Everton'youth system, and Liverpool midfielder Gerrard, using a network of 120 leading coaches working with 4,500 more at 96 professional clubs. Some top-flight teams, West Ham United and Aston Villa to name but two, argue they have been doing that for years already while Manchester United are still enjoying the last fruits of a golden youth team assembled before the Premier League changed the landscape forever. For others, spiralling transfer fees and a fresh directive from European soccer's ruling body UEFA whereby clubs must reduce their spending on player wages and transfer fees, means the spotlight is now on the newly-revamped academy system. "When you strip it down to its most fundamental, the EPPP is about creating an environment where a local boy, developed at his local club from eight or nine, can go on to pull on a first-team shirt of the club that he has grown up at," said the Premier League's director of youth Ged Roddy. At any given time 9,000 boys are in the academy system although only a tiny fraction will make it as pros. MOST FUNDING Academies are rated from one to four with those attaining Category One status receiving the most funding and, to the frustration of the clubs further down the pyramid, inevitably getting to cherry-pick the best players. Villa's new Category One status means they are obliged to spend a minimum of 1.5 million pounds on developing players with 775,000 pounds coming from the Premier League. A Category Four academy will only get 100,000 pounds. West Ham's school of excellence, which has also attained the top status, is overseen by Tony Carr who in more than 30 years with the club has launched the careers of numerous Premier League title winners, Champions League winners and England internationals. He said whatever the EPPP promises, the key to its success is home-grown players get a chance to play first-team football - something he fears could be undermined by scouting networks identifying players from France, Spain and beyond. Arsenal's Under-18 and Under-21 squads contain players born in Argentina, Macedonia, Switzerland, Spain and Germany and that is just among the defenders. "The most important thing of all is when they are 18 or 19 they have an opportunity to play and I think coming to a club like West Ham there is that opportunity," Carr told Reuters. "Maybe the bigger clubs are chasing bigger fish in terms of Champions League and Premier League titles so the younger boys coming through don't get an opportunity. "I would like to see the percentage of British players increasing in the Premier League because the knock-on effect is a
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL4N0BS6BW20130328 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

stronger national side." Carr, whose success stories include Chelsea's Frank Lampard, Manchester United duo Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick and Tottenham Hotspur's Jermain Defoe, said clubs can even fulfil their UEFA-enforced 'home-grown' quota with players from abroad. SYSTEM WEIGHTED "You can bring in a Spaniard at 15 and if he stays in the youth system for three years he is classed as home-grown," Carr said. "It's a bit of a cheat in that respect but we are not in that market." Critics say the system is too weighted in favour of the big clubs who can afford to set up Category One academies and therefore, under another rule change, can recruit nationally from the age of 12 compared to the '90-minute travelling time'. regulation the rest are bound by. A Category Four academy would still require 100,000 pounds of investment - a sum an increasing amount of lower division teams struggle to justify particularly in light of a change to the rules on compensation should a player get poached. Whereas previously a tribunal would fix a fee, smaller clubs now receive a small initial payment and only enjoy a significant windfall should the player become a Premier League regular - 150,000 pounds for every 10 games. "A brazen attempt by the Premier League's wealthy elite to cherry-pick the best youngsters from Football League clubs," was how Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parrish described the EPPP when it was launched. While it may have its critics, the Premier League is determined the EPPP will gradually raise the percentage of British-born players and improve the overall quality in the top tiers of English football. At the start of the season 62 percent of footballers listed in the Premier League squads were non-British whereas in Spain's La Liga the percentage of non-domestic players was less than 40. Villa are bucking the trend and their young first-team squad is bulging with players who have come through the academy such as Ciaran Clark, Barry Bannan and Marc Albrighton. The club's academy boss Bryan Jones believes the EPPP bodes well for the next generation. "The new system will create greater access to players and we will remain fully committed to creating the right environment in which they can strive to excel," he said. The process may be slow and City's football development executive Patrick Vieira offered words of caution. "Barcelona have been doing it for the last 35 years and we have just been doing it for a few years. We are a long, long way behind," said the former France midfielder. ($1 = 0.6608 British pounds) (Editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL4N0BS6BW20130328

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

INTERVIEW-Soccer-English academy youngsters at risk of burnout
Thu, Mar 28 2013

By Sonia Oxley LEEDS, England, March 28 (Reuters) - English academy players chasing a dream of turning professional are suffering burnout due to too many demands from coaches and parents and it is robbing elite clubs of bright prospects, a study has shown. Research by the University of Leeds published earlier this year found that up to a quarter of youngsters reported symptoms of burnout including emotional and physical exhaustion and becoming disaffected with the sport. "Regardless of how well you perform, these ... (parents, coaches, peers) are increasingly more demanding," said study author Andrew Hill, a lecturer in sports and exercise science at the university. "It's the kind of relentless pressure to accomplish increasingly difficult goals," he told Reuters. "You know how they say in football you are only ever as good as your last game, another way of thinking about that is that no game will ever be good enough. "If you score twice, you should have scored three times ... the goals are increased until inevitably you experience helplessness, hopelessness and failure." The study was based on information from 167 players from eight academies or centres of excellence attached to three unnamed Premier League teams, four second tier and one other Football League club. It found up to one in four experienced moderate symptoms of burnout while one percent suffered them frequently. Affected players can lose the desire to kick a ball, sometimes leading to them giving up football altogether. Asked if this meant talented players were failing to make it as professionals when they could have been 'the next big thing', Hill replied: "Without doubt. "Burnout has been described as a cost, it's considered to carry a cost both in terms of the welfare of the people who suffer it but also a cost in terms of the loss of talent. "These guys are in that system because they are very talented and because they are perceived to show early promise," added Hill. "People often associate burnout with people who put in the most efforts, the guys who are most invested in ... so presumably these are also the guys who over time are likely to accrue the technical and tactical skills to perform at the higher level. "Burnout is a pre-requisite to dropout." OUTSTANDING ATHLETES Whether the boys who drop out would really have made it as professionals is impossible to say, Bolton Wanderers academy coach and former top-flight goalkeeper Keith Branagan said. "I've certainly seen youngsters who look as if they are tired mentally and physically over the course of several years," he told Reuters. "I don't disagree that boys probably succumb to that pressure but I would find it hard to state that boy could have made it because part of being a footballer is toughness in your psychological profile. "Any boys who couldn't take whatever pressure there was might not have made it in the big, bad world of adult football anyway." In other words, burnout could just be a part of the selection process. "I dare say we'd all like to be racing drivers but we'll never get there because of how good the best are," Branagan said. "That's the nature of the business, the nature of the game. The best of the best really are outstanding athletes and outstanding sports people." Branagan said academies were increasingly making sure youngsters were not put under too much pressure and had realistic expectations since such a small percentage of them - perhaps only around two percent - might ever turn
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL4N0BS7QB20130328 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

professional. "In my 20 years of being involved around academies I have seen the opposite - I've seen some academy coaches piling the pressure on the boys, perhaps running the team as if they were a manager of a professional club," he explained. "But I think awareness throughout the country has improved year after year in academies. If anything academies work very hard to try to put the boys at ease, trying to take the pressure off them because the boys will put pressure on themselves anyway." Branagan said centres of excellence employed education and welfare officers, held parents evenings and tried to educate guardians on expectations while young footballers had access to top physios, sports scientists and psychologists. "It has come a long way since I started - when you had a trial and you were in the youth team or you weren't," he said. "Then you were just thrown in the deep end, it is much more structured now." (Editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL4N0BS7QB20130328

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

INTERVIEW-Soccer-Newly rich Man City focus on nurturing talent
Thu, Mar 28 2013

By Keith Weir MANCHESTER, England, March 28 (Reuters) - Having vaulted swiftly to the top of English soccer thanks to huge sums of cash from Abu Dhabi, Manchester City are now investing in youth development to try to maintain their elevated status. The Premier League champions are building a new football academy at a reported cost of more than 100 million pounds ($160 million) on land adjacent to their Etihad Stadium in the northern English city. Scheduled to open for the start of the 2014-15 season, it will allow City to train up to 400 young players alongside a squad of first team professionals assembled at great cost from around the globe. Classrooms and accommodation blocks will be built to educate and house some of the youngsters, while a 7,000-seater stadium will help them to get used to playing in front of crowds. City's rapid rise over the past five years has been funded by owner Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, part of Abu Dhabi's ruling family. They must now fall into line with new rules requiring clubs to move towards breakeven or face exclusion from European competition. However, spending on youth development is excluded from the calculations, making it a doubly valuable investment. Impressive though the City plans are, it will require a change in mindset as well as shiny new buildings to reverse English soccer's failure to produce enough top quality young players, says Patrick Vieira, the former French international who is City's football development executive. "With the number of people who play the game and the number of kids who love and play the game, I believe there is not enough talent compared to what football is about in this country," Vieira told Reuters in an interview. "It's just a disappointment because I have been here for years and I love this country, I love the passion from the fans and the people," added Vieira, who played for Arsenal for nine seasons. Vieira, 36, began his playing career in France and also played in Italy, giving him exposure to coaching methods across Europe. ENJOY YOURSELF He speaks of the need for patience with young players, saying an over-emphasis on results can stunt the development of talented teenagers. "It's not about winning or losing, it's about how you can improve, how you progress year after year," he said. Growing up in France, he said the emphasis was on encouraging budding professionals to develop awareness on the field, learning to look for the next pass and to make the right decisions when on the ball. "Just enjoy yourself, don't be afraid to play, don't be afraid to make a mistake because we all make mistakes," said Vieira, explaining what teenagers should be told. "What is important is to learn from the mistakes you are making." The English Premier League, the richest in the world, has recently changed its rules to allow the clubs with the top ranked academies to take players full time from the age of 12 and recruit from all over the country. "The big difference if you compare the English, the Spanish or the French or the Dutch kids, I think overseas the kids are spending more time on the training field than the English boy," Vieira said. "The rules changing I think has really improved the quality of the players and I think it's important as well that a club like City can get a young boy from London." The changes put more emphasis on clubs like City to ensure youngsters get a full education on and off the field. City have a partnership with a local fee-paying school that allows teenagers to combine education and training. "The education part of it is really quite important, as a football club we want these players to be a good human being, the person who can answer all the difficulties he will find in life," Vieira said. City realise they have some catching up to do compared with more established European powers when it comes to
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL6N0AK65Z20130328 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

nurturing their own talent. "Barcelona have been doing it for the last 35 years and we have just been doing it for a few years and we are a long, long way behind," Vieira said. "But in the next four to five years I hope that we will have young players who will come through the academy and play for the first team because we have some really good young players." ($1 = 0.6224 British pounds) (Editing by Sonia Oxley) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL6N0AK65Z20130328

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

Soccer-Spain lead way with academies despite economic woes
Thu, Mar 28 2013

By Iain Rogers MADRID, March 28 (Reuters) - Real Sociedad have been the surprise packages in La Liga this season and their surge to fourth place is all the more impressive given they have fielded 16 home-grown players. While Barcelona take the plaudits for the dazzling achievements of their academy graduates, clubs like San Sebastianbased Sociedad and Basque neighbours Athletic Bilbao are proof Spain is blessed with highly efficient talent factories. Bilbao, like Sociedad and Barcelona fiercely proud of their regional identity, only hire players of Basque origin. They have used 20 from their academy this term, according to a report by Barcelona-based Prime Time Sport. Sociedad are second on the list with 16 followed by Barca on 15. Those three clubs are top for the third season in a row. Among the 20 teams in the top flight only Granada have not used a home-grown player in the past two campaigns, with champions Real Madrid fielding seven this season and Atletico Madrid eight. In Europe's leading five leagues French side Olympique Lyon are the only other top club in double figures with 10. Sociedad's French coach Philippe Montanier believes one reason for the success of the Spanish academies is the emphasis on technical ability rather than physical strength. Some members of league leaders Barca's squad are prime examples of the trend with Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets underpinning the Catalan club's recent success and Spain's unprecedented haul of European Championship triumphs in 2008 and 2012 with a World Cup inbetween. "Spain has taken the opposite route to France, focusing on slighter players who are blessed with great intelligence on the pitch," Montanier told Eurosport. "The Spaniards and the Brazilians have fun practising their technique in enclosed spaces and they are constantly doing ball work. "In France the training is very demanding and rigorous and maybe when the kids get to 18 or 19 they have lost their love for football," added Montanier. ECONOMIC BENEFIT Promoting home-grown players to the first team not only helps strengthen the bond between club and fans, it can also have an economic benefit that is becoming increasingly important for Spain's cash-strapped clubs. The recession gripping the nation coupled with years of profligacy have left many in a parlous state with combined debts of more than 3.5 billion euros ($4.5 billion), according to a report by an accounting professor at the University of Barcelona. Rules being phased in by European soccer's governing body UEFA and the introduction of similar domestic regulations are designed to prevent clubs spending more than they earn and recent activity in the transfer market suggests they are starting to bite. La Liga clubs spent only 12.3 million euros in the January transfer window, according to Prime Time Sport. Adding the close-season market, outgoings from Spanish clubs fell by 62 percent compared with the previous season to 140 million euros, the lowest in five years. "Despite this decrease the Spanish league has not lost its competitiveness in the short-term thanks to football executives looking for less expensive options," said Esteve Calzada, founder of Prime Time Sport and a former general director of marketing at Barca. These included signing players on free transfers or loan deals but also relying more on the development programmes of the clubs, he added. The number of home-grown players used by La Liga clubs has increased from 137 in the 2010-11 season to 155 this term. Placido Rodriguez, a professor of economics at Oviedo University and a former chairman of Sporting Gijon, is sceptical that bringing youth team players through can help solve the financial difficulties of the clubs.
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL6N0CCFRY20130328 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

He said that beyond Barca, Bilbao and Sociedad, few sides promoted a significant number of academy graduates to their first team. "This is what everyone said back in 2000 when the economic difficulties began to emerge," Rodriguez told Reuters. "I think this is what will happen - many teams will take players on free transfers but generally there will be very few youth players making it into the first team except in cases like Bilbao." ELITE ACADEMY Angel Barajas, a professor of finance at the University of Vigo, said one unwelcome effect of the economic crisis could be clubs are forced to offload their best young talent to raise cash. "Unfortunately it seems to me the financial struggles of La Liga clubs don't necessarily have to translate into them relying more and more on academy graduates," he told Reuters. "What we are also seeing is the export of young players to foreign leagues." One club that sees a flourishing academy as a means of helping keep costs under control and staying in line with UEFA regulations are Malaga, bought by a member of the Qatar royal family in 2010. The Andalusian side, through to the last eight of the Champions League on their debut in the competition this season, hired the experienced Manuel Casanova from Espanyol two years ago to set up what he calls "an elite academy". "The objective is to create an academy like Barca and Bilbao," he told Reuters. "Other countries look at Spain as an example, a reference point." Asked how he spots promising players, Casanova identified something money cannot buy. "It's a secret," he added. "I go to the pitch and in 15 minutes I can say who the good ones are. "It's something you have or you don't - you won't find it in any book. Some people have a gift as opera singers and this is my gift." ($1 = 0.7722 euros) (Additional reporting by Mark Elkington, editing by Tony Jimenez) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL6N0CCFRY20130328

2/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

» Print

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

INTERVIEW-Soccer-Barca the benchmark for academy success
Thu, Mar 28 2013

By Iain Rogers BARCELONA, March 28 (Reuters) - At Levante's stadium in Valencia on an evening in late November last year, something unprecedented in Barcelona's recent history occurred that was a dazzling illustration of the success of their much-envied youth system. When Martin Montoya came on to replace injured Brazil full back Daniel Alves in the 13th minute, he joined 10 fellow graduates of Barca's academy including Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas, on the pitch. Fielding an entire team of youth players is something no other top club can come close to matching, certainly none that has enjoyed the kind of success Barca have in recent years, with four La Liga titles and two European crowns among a host of trophies garnered in the past five seasons. Former Barca player and coach Johan Cruyff is widely credited with laying the foundations for the academy's success in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Dutchman made it more structured and professional and insisted all the players, from the youngest through to those on the fringes of the first team, were imbued with the quick-passing, possession-based brand of football that has become the club's ethos and trademark. Guillermo Amor, a former Barca midfielder, has been part of the youth system, either as a recruit or manager, for around two thirds of his life. Now 45, he was a key member of Cruyff's "Dream Team" that won the club's first European title in 1992 and is their current director of youth development. Standing in the sunshine at Barca's training ground outside the Catalan capital, Amor reflects on the reasons why other clubs are so keen to copy the Barca model and explains what they look for in young players keen to sign up. "It all comes probably from the way the first team has performed," he told Reuters. "Above all it is about the way of playing, the style, the system and of course the results," he added. "Everyone sees it and if, on top of that, you see that there are so many youngsters from the academy then it's natural that you want to come here and see how it's done." Barca's playing style is about keeping possession and circulating the ball quickly and Amor said he and his colleagues look for kids who are addicted to playing and practising. Ball work is paramount and the youngsters will spend hour after hour in small clusters on the training ground pinging the ball around with first-time passes. Most of the recruits to the club's academy are from the city and the wider region of Catalonia, although the net is spread wider for the older categories when players can be from anywhere in the world. LONG-TERM PROJECT "I think when you take on a youngster it's because you notice something different," said Amor, who joined Barca as a 13year-old and played 550 times for the club. "You see a good footballer despite the young age because they are very small when they are seven or eight years old. "You get a sense that you will be able to work with them a while to hopefully achieve something. "We don't immediately think that a player is going to make it to the first team. It's a work of patience, a long-term project." Amor, who hails from Benidorm where he has a stadium named after him, is full of praise for Catalonia's soccer development system, which he says provides a large pool of youngsters for Barca's scouts to sift through. "It's a region in which football development, kids football, is very well run," he said. "There are a huge number of teams and there is a lot of dedication and a lot of work done with the youngsters." As well as moulding young players into potential professionals, Barca are keen to make sure their educational needs are
uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL6N0CAD5M20130328 1/2

11/20/13

Breaking News, Business News, Financial and Investing News & More | Reuters.co.uk

taken care of should they not be able to make a career in soccer. "We always say that the person comes first and then the footballer, our main concern is always the person," Amor said. "We are just as concerned that a player develops as a person as a player. I think that is fundamental." As to whether Barca's youth system will continue to churn out players of the calibre of Messi, Iniesta and Fabregas, Amor said there was no specific annual target for the number of academy graduates debuting in the first team. "There will be years when circumstance dictates that one makes it, other years when there are four or five or maybe one year there won't be any," he said. "We work to create very good players, very good squads and very good teams." Judging by some of the recent results of the junior teams, the academy is in good shape. On one weekend this month, all but one of their 17 youth teams won, scoring 136 goals between them including a thumping 21-0 success for a girls' side. (Editing by Sonia Oxley) © Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only.

uk.reuters.com/assets/print?aid=UKL6N0CAD5M20130328

2/2

blo gs.re ut e rs.co m

http://blo gs.reuters.co m/so ccer/2009/04/08/macheda-highlights-serie-as-impatience-with-yo uth/

Reuters Soccer Blog
Serie A clubs are understandably upset about English sides scooping up youngsters such as Federico Macheda f rom their academies. Lazio President Claudio Lotito cried f oul af ter the 17-year-old, a product of the Rome club’s youth system, scored a stunning winner f or Manchester United against Aston Villa in his Premier League debut on Sunday. He has a point. Af ter doing the hard part of nurturing the players’ talents, wealthier f oreign sides can step in and enjoy the benef its. It’s not the best way to encourage clubs to invest in their academies and FIFA and UEFA are looking at tightening the rules on the transf er of under-18s. But Lotito’s annoyance is only justif ied to a certain degree as, if Macheda had stayed at Lazio, it seems unlikely that he would have got the chance United boss Alex Ferguson gave him to hit the headlines at such a tender age. “I doubt an Italian team would have made the move Ferguson did,” respected Italian sports writer Italo Cucci told Rai television. Indeed, while Serie A clubs are good at producing young players, they are f requently criticised in Italy f or not giving them the chance to shine. Italy striker Giuseppe Rossi, another player snapped up as a teen by United, was unable to f ind a Serie A side even af ter an impressive loan stint at Parma in 2007 and his skills are now on show in Spain at Villarreal. It’s also worth remembering that Patrick Vieira and T hierry Henry both joined Arsenal in the 1990s af ter f ailing to f ind space early in their careers at AC Milan and Juventus respectively. T he highly charged atmosphere of Serie A pressures coaches into pref erring tried-and-tested options rather than risking players who inevitably make mistakes out of inexperience. “T he English def initely have more courage in giving youngsters a chance abroad,” f ormer Juve and Chelsea striker Gianluca Vialli told Sky. “T he dif f erence there is that when they have an of f match, they still let them play the next game.” T hat said, Ferguson seemed to have acquired some of his Italian colleagues’ caution on Tuesday, with Macheda warming the bench in a disappointing 2-2 home draw with Porto in their Champions League quarterf inal f irst leg.

re ut e rs.co m

http://www.reuters.co m/article/2012/06/30/us-so ccer-euro -spain-delbo sque-idUSBRE85T09F20120630

Spain success down to youth academies: Del Bosque
By Iain Ro gers

KIEV Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:08am EDT Spain's coach Vicente del Bosque (C) talks to his players bef ore the f irst half of extra time during their Euro 2012 semi-f inal soccer match against Portugal at the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, June 27, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Juan Medina (Reuters) - T he success of the Spanish national team is mainly down to the ef f iciency of its clubs' soccer academies and the high quality of coaching staf f , coach Vicente del Bosque said. A day bef ore the world and European champions bid to def end their continental title against Italy, Spain coach Del Bosque said the Iberian nation was experiencing "an incredible era" and was ready to become a leader in European f ootball. "(Our success) is not a coincidence and has its f oundations in many things, in the structure of our f ootball, in the academies, and in better coaches," he was quoted as saying on the Spanish soccer f ederation's website (www.rf ef .es). "T he (Spanish) clubs are devoting themselves to training youngsters, some kids leave f or f oreign teams at a very young age," he added. "Bef ore we would travel abroad to look at the academies in France, Russia, Germany. "Now many of these countries come to see what we are doing in Spain." Spain's probable starting lineup f or Sunday's f inal in Kiev will include six players who are products of Barcelona's youth school, f ive of whom still play f or the Catalan club and one, Jordi Alba, who is poised to return there f rom Valencia. Del Bosque said Spain had f inally worked out how to convert the dominance of clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid in European competition over the years into success at the international level. "We have put a certain complex regarding Europe behind us and right now we are at the same level as any country in our vicinity," he said. "We are among a group of candidates to lead European f ootball." (Editing by Justin Palmer)

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful