You may have heard about football youth academies in passing, but have you ever stopped to think about what they are? Are they just glorified football training programmes for kids to do during the summer holidays, or are they something more?
Youth academies are more than just a fun football activity for kids; they’re how English football clubs find their next best player. For teams in The Premiership, nurturing the best homegrown player from their youth academy could be the key to their continued success. And as you know, football betting is more exciting when players perform well on the pitch.
Let’s look at how youth academies help clubs and players succeed in football.
A youth academy’s purpose is self-explanatory: it’s where young boys (and girls, depending on the club) receive comprehensive training when playing football. Instead of joining a local football club, participants commit to playing and training for that particular academy.
Football clubs send scouts across the country to invite who they believe are promising young players. If everything goes well between the scout and the talent’s parents, the child plays for a year or so for the academy, depending on their age. Whether they get invited back or not depends on several factors, including the child’s performance during his time at the academy.
Youth academies aren’t limited to Premier League clubs; lower-tier clubs also scout young players for themselves. After all, successful academy players mean better players or more money for the club.
Parents wanting to send their children to a youth academy can’t just approach a club and hope they recruit their child. Instead, they must let their children play locally first, either with a nearby grassroots club or in school, and let the scouts find them. The child must be at least nine years old to be eligible; this is the minimum age for youth academy participation.
When a scout is interested, they will approach the parent to start the recruitment process. They’ll discuss the commitment required from both the child and the parents and what they can expect from the club in return.
Once in the academy, the child is expected to play exclusively for that club’s academy and no one else. They will be given direction on developing and improving their skills, along with instructions on improving their general performance. On the other hand, parents receive nutrition and mental preparation instructions.
Depending on how the child performs during their time at the academy, they will either be invited back for the next year or be released. It’s important to note that most academy students get released at some point or another due to competition.
The most valuable thing children gain from joining a youth academy is playing and developing their skills in a closely controlled environment. Surrounded by professionals, they’ll get directions on improving their agility, footwork, ball control, etc. Kids also get the chance to make new friends and work with each other as a team.
When not playing in the academy, they’ll be given some ‘homework’ to continue their progress, such as ball exercises or activities to improve their other muscles. They’ll also learn self-discipline to focus on their craft instead of resorting to other laidback activities.
Only a tiny percentage of academy students become professional footballers, meaning they are the best.
The child must demonstrate continued improvement and remarkable talent to reach this level. It’s one thing to improve the basics based on direction, but it’s another to show natural talent and improve it every year. If the club feels the child is better than the current academy recruits, they’ll be invited back for next year’s academy.
If the child gets invited back for long enough and they reach 18, they can become a professional player. They will either sign a contract with their academy club or another club will recruit them.
The main downside to youth academies is the intense competition. Academy scouts never stop recruiting in their intense search for the next football star. That means current academy students must never stop proving to the club that they deserve their spot. Unfortunately for them, most academies release students as they find more kids to recruit.