Back nearly three years ago a post here WHERE THE FA HAVE TO GO TO RESUSCITATE ENGLISH FOOTBALL – BUT WILL IT HAPPEN THIS TIME? July 20, 2016 by dadman007, included a paragraph referencing the English league club academy system
We need a CEO charged with the responsibility of growing football from ground level roots up, and that means the FA & their underlings the League Authorities using the massive millions coming into the game to provide local facilities for young kids (like the Germans do) and abandoning current the ridiculous league club academy system that totally embroils young children from seven and ‘coaches’ them incessantly before it throws them on the scrapheap at sixteen (and no doubt teaches them on the way how to cheat like the professionals – and spit like a trouper, as well?). All the big money is currently channelled into paying obscene millions to players (most of them foreigners who don’t even pay much tax) and their bloodsucking agents, but certainly not into local football.
Well as was expected, the FA’s overpaid executives have simply sat on their hands, ignored the pitfalls and areas for improvement, and let their debilitating academy system carry-on regardless without change, oblivious to the damage being caused to the beguiled young boys and teenagers involved, eh?
You see, the English football academy system is a crock of shit that sucks-in and enslaves aspiring football players as young kids, and in one of the greatest confidence tricks of the century offers them untold fame and fortune, just for joining [and signing on when age 9], but actually the price is unknowingly for the unaffordable cost of an extortionate amount of their time and energy, a dedicated and massive commitment to a single sport, and ultimately an often unrecoverable loss of self-confidence and self-worth.
When a kid is “scouted” at primary school age, the parents and their son are over the moon, as the lad will benefit greatly from serious football involvement and free training with elite coaching in a fantastic environment, which all sounds too good to be true – unfortunately it bloody well is.
Even after a relatively short period, many of those will be ditched in an uncaring manner, leaving them in tears, confused as to why the dream of being a star has suddenly evaporated and then they suffer the nightmare stigma of being labelled a failure at early such an age too. A large number of boys though will survive in the academy development squad, some for years from infancy, only to reach an even greater level of personal destruction when crushingly tossed aside when they reach the crucial age of 16, when the cut is made for those who will be selected to join the scholarship programme
[NOTE: THERE ARE CURRENTLY SOME 12,500 PLAYERS IN THE ENGLISH ACADEMY SYSTEM – nearly all being set up to fail]
There is sufficient evidence that those who involuntarily leave the academy system because they are thrown on the scrapheap as ‘just not good enough’ casualties, are hugely damaged by the experience. They suddenly face the cold, harsh reality of the real world where football has a pretty minor role to play in life, and it is unsurprising that most children find themselves up the creak without a paddle and can’t hack it, is it? The fact is that suddenly ‘being released’ can cause clinical levels of psychological distress afterwards when boys suffer a distressing loss of self-confidence. At the bottom end, some have so lost their way that they drift-off into crime and end up in prison
Some gratuitous advice is offered here to parents of any happy sporty young kid, and that IS to ignore whatever football ability you imagine your kid has or someone has told you he has, and just let him play football and enjoy the game and forget the tempting dream that you might hold or are being fed – it aint going to happen is it? No, the statistical likelihood of a kid making it is infinitesimally small and it isn’t worth the gamble of your considerable money, time, effort, and most certainly NOT your child’s future [only 1 in 200 age 9 academy players become a footballer or make a living from the game].
Oh yes SOME few will make it and do sign as professionals, but only a quarter of them are still in the game by the time they are 21 – THAT’S WHAT ONE WOULD CALL A BLOODY SHORT CAREER, wouldn’t one? Is that what you really want for your kid, eh?
The base problem is that while football is no different from other sports which equally have a massive dropout in mid-teens when other interests take over, the pressurising academy system both ignores that and moreover gives boys totally false hopes by irresponsibly building-up their expectations that they’re going to be star footballers
Of course, the Football Association and Football League adamantly defend the professionalism of their youth processes, coaching and facilities, but that’s all codswallop, as research in a matter of major concern, has found that even boys who make it into the top elite scholarship programme at 16, results in five out of six not playing professional football at 21, eh?
When the high-pressure environment of the academy football bubble, as it normally does, ceases to be just a hobby or simply a sport, it can easily decline into being an obsession for a youngster, which can sometimes develop into an anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder, or when it completely dominates growing up and whereby the other educational or development needs of different, essential life skills inevitably get sidelined, and where all ambition is substituted by football, football, football, it becomes a critical problem, doesn’t it?
Moreover, despite the fact that there are well-intentioned, hardworking coaches and welfare officers in some English football academies, in reality the system generally pays scant attention to its statutory safeguarding obligations for children there, which now seems to be restricted to ‘belatedly’ keeping young players safer from sexual assault, while completely ignoring the elephant in the room of the mental, psychological and emotional impacts on young people resulting from being in the current highly developed, ambitious, commercialised, academy system, which undoubtable is a form of abuse, isn’t it?. This abject failure to protect children ought to be properly dealt with by dealt with by the authorities, don’t you think? [The Courts issued a salutary warning about the potential dangers of English football’s youth development system, when dealing with a causal consequential mental health difficulties case]
[Under the Children Act 1989, the police, working with other agencies (such as the Local Authority children’s social care services, health and education services), are responsible for making enquiries to safeguard the welfare of any child within their area who is suffering (or likely to suffer) significant harm]
It is not just boys getting ‘released’ that causes problems though, as major difficulties persist there throughout the time a lad is in an academy, and indeed the whole family suffers years of ordeal. It is a fantasy, mad, unreal, world that the most caring of parents get sucked into, so not only does that increase pressure on the child to constantly meet the challenge of being under the constant scrutiny of performance and conduct, but severe anxiety is generated throughout the family unit because of a probability of rejection. All that comes on top of the fact that supporting an academy player requires many sacrifices which can often devastate normal family life
Indeed, it is the parents and their family who have to bear the brunt of the demands of the system, with their lives dominated by travelling long distances, as they have to transport their boy everywhere demanded by the academy, which will include travel time of up to a 1 hour to and from the academy for intensive, perhaps four‑times‑a‑week training from the age of eight, plus a weekend match which can be hundreds of miles away and require an overnight hotel stay – that kind of commitment requires families incurring substantial cost as well as often meaning a parent taking time off work as well. Inevitably, where there are other children in the family, they will suffer by priority attention going elsewhere, won’t they?
Parents who do have a child in a football academy need to be fully aware of the problems that it can cause and deal with the issues in a preventative manner. That would include ensuring that their son keeps his feet firmly on the ground, enjoys the special experience of being in the academy environment, but understand that football is not a way of life, that it is unlikely to be his career, and that it has to be ‘counter-balanced’ by other more important and significant interests, such as education
It is a glaring fact that football training takes-up a massive chunk of school related time, particularly with the result at Secondary school that fewer GCSEs are taken or done well in, and then further studies are restricted, given the amount of training the 16-18-year-olds do, to the extent that very few will take or gain A-levels, let alone going on to higher education. That kind of study drop-off further sabotages their chances of finding real career opportunities in professions like solicitors, accountants, physiotherapists, IT, tradesman, or even sports science careers.
However, if priority is switched by parents from football to school, it becomes more likely that an academy will release the boy as they tend to operate a harsh ‘total commitment’ policy, and that makes it even more essential that parents have understood the pressure on a child who is too young to know how to handle it, and have pre-prepared their son for life outside the academy, doesn’t it?
You just need to know that Premier League clubs prefer to transfer-in, to play, put on the bench, or even as well sit in the stands, predominately expensive foreign players (some ¾ are non-English), so those talented home-grown players who actually ‘make it’, still can NOT get in the team – so don’t progress unless they go abroad, and joining a German team is becoming more common for young players in the English game [like ex-Manchester City 19 year old Jadon Sancho (4 full England caps) and ex- West Ham (debut at age 16) 20 year old Reece Oxford (5 England U20 caps), or ex- Everton (scored on his debut against Man C) 21 year old Ademola Lookman (11 England U21 caps)]
[Why do the League Clubs do it all wrong with these kid academies? Well, it is simply a massive sort of sub-trial in a massive numbers game where clubs want to keep ALL their options open on ANY young footballer that has demonstrated some talent but that is not yet fully developed, so they destroy their futures by giving them hope and hanging onto them until the boys have to be paid, don’t they?]