I was just reading this article on ESPN and I feel that following AJAX's and La Masia's Academy system and implenting the 4-3-3 formation starting from the grassroots and up is the best way to get to the world cup one day.
The USA has the IMG Soccer Academy that is home to US Soccer's full-time residency program. What students do there is they take an accelerated academic program in the morning, and sport training for the rest of the day. This system has produced good players like Landon Donovan, and Eddie Johnson (formerly of Fulham). What I understood from the article on Ajax was essentially that they kinda do the same thing but they have different philosophies with regards to the actual athletic straining.
In the case of the Philippines... to be frank, I don't think this will succeed if we do this right now. For something like this to work, we need to have an established professional league. Nobody in their right mind will send their children to train for a job that is not available in the Philippines. The UFL, while gaining popularity, might not be enough. In the case of the US, MLS was established almost a decade before the academy was formed.
I agree with cowscrubber by disagreeing with the premise that football academies are the way forward. More often than not these are money making schemes. The way to the World Cup will be paved by a strong national professional league which will be based on a strong and comprehensive grassroots program.
The US U-17 residency program has been around since the 1990's about the same time MLS started. It was a short term solution to the need at that time for the best athletes in that age group to have professional training in an academy setting. It did produce a lot of good players like Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley who went to have successful professional careers. However it was insufficient to cover the large population base the US has since only a small group was included. What they needed to implement was what the French mandated. The French Federation mandated that each club in their top leagues establish professional academies that will train youngsters from their locality from a very young age all the way up to the first team. Those who showed promise from these academies were given special training in regional academies under the French Federation who would then send them to play in various age group tournaments. This enabled the French to catch up with the other traditional European powers, culminating in the European Championship and the World Cup.
This is a very expensive but proven process that might not be feasible in the Philippines at the moment. Professional Academies run by clubs are indeed the way to go, as the clubs will be motivated to produce the best players which they can then sell at inflated prices abroad. However the cost of setting this up is quite prohibitive.
In the meantime I would recommend that clubs in the UFL start forming age group level teams and reserve teams at the amateur level which they can train and nurture in the hope of someday seeing them make the first team. From what I understand the Dilliman team in the 2nd division has plans of setting up something like this. Reserve teams should also be formed and play after the first team or the day after, allowing the unused players the day before to get playing time as well as develop prospects in the system that are close to making the first team. Since most teams are based in Metro Manila, this should not be too expensive travel wise and can still be arranged.
What I'm afraid of, cjeagle, is that these academies become pure money making machines if what I've observed in Thailand is true. Big name Thai academies like the Arsenal Soccer School, the Chang-Everton Football Academy, and Inter Campus Thai (Inter Milan's academy) share one thing in common: expensive enrollment and monthly fees.
It's big, big business.
I talked to the director of the Inter Campus Thai a few years back (after his team beat my boys team 1-0 at the Rajamangala Stadium... if it was any consolation my boys did beat another school 14-0 in the same day) and he said that the chances of their academy producing players good enough for club football in the local leagues would be roughly two in a hundred. Two in a hundred! That's sad.
You might have bigger chances of scouting and producing players in the barrios with a good grassroots program.
----------UFL Academies/Celebrity Academies
Let's say Kaya FC and Global FC open academies. Who would be their target group? The upper middle class, of course. This is where the money is. These are the parents who would pay to have Little Junior trained by a club boasting a Younghusband or a Moy.
-----------ALTRUISM I guess I'm just being a romantic here but I wish clubs were more altruistic by ADOPTING LOCAL SCHOOLS, especially overcrowded & poor government schools. These adopted schools then become the clubs' academies. Varsity players for these local schools get quality training and if they're good enough might even be offered a contract. For real.
I feel this is morally better than running exclusive & expensive academies because: 1. You have a bigger player pool so the chances of spotting a talented child is higher 2. Kids from difficult backgrounds will see football as a step to a better life and will are willing to work harder (while Little Junior has the option of becoming an accountant or opening a Starbucks franchise should his dreams of pro football hits a snag) 3. We become selfless, loving individuals.
We don't need a Younghusband Football Academy or a Chieffy Caligdong School of Footballing Arts for the Relatively Wealthy. Oh yes, they would raise the profile of football in the country but in it's heart of hearts academies such as these are just another means of earning a little extra.
Football academies are like iPads... they're nice to have and look pretty but do you really, really need one?
I think you have a misunderstanding about how Professional Academies work in Europe and South America, as opposed to this schools for profit you find in the rest of the world. Those schools for profit abound here in the US as well and is the reason why soccer just like in Manila, is mostly a rich man's sport here with the players predominantly coming from a middle class primarily Caucasian background. Their parents can afford to send them to the best schools to learn from the best coaches and can afford the expenses that come from joining a traveling team where the best competition lies and therefore scouted by the various national teams. In the past Latino kids whose parents cannot afford this expenses and who happen to be smaller and less physical than their white counterparts tend to get overlooked.
With the advent of MLS, the emphasis was on getting the best players but initially because of the single entity nature of the league and their limited funding, they were not able to set up professional academies that could reach this underprivileged kids. They still to this day don't have the funding or the setup similar to what European clubs have. They have however instituted developmental academies where they can help provide coaching, help with the expenses and send the best players to this elite level national tournaments where they can flourish and develop. Products of this developmental academies include our players Neil Ignacio(Galaxy Academy) and OJ Porteria(DC United Academy). This players however remain amateur athletes that still require a certain amount of funding from their parents and most of them end up playing in the NCAA college level and are not in most cases, tied down contractually to the clubs they are affiliated with.
On the other hand, professional academies in Europe and South America, especially with the big clubs are fully funded by and sponsored by the clubs themselves, with players signing contracts and receiving compensation after being chosen good enough to join their academies. Their main goal is to produce good enough players to join their first team as well as sell them at inflated prices, to compensate for the costs of producing these players. Because their motivation is to produce the best players, they only choose the best candidates regardless of race, or economic background. That is one of the reasons why both this continents produce the best teams and players. Once at the academy itself, this players have to prove themselves everyday at every level, or are washed out and discarded just like the Younghusbands and some of our other European based players were eventually. Competition is fierce and only the best survive. The unfortunate byproduct of this unlike in the US, is that most of these discarded players do not have the education, to cope with a life outside of football, since that was never a priority.
As for the ratio that you mention, it is not uncommon to see that in most academies regardless of origin. You can read more of this in the grassroots forum, second page, where I posted this article,
on how a Ajax Academy star is made. They start with thousands of candidates, of which only a very few make it to the first team. Some of them, like our very own Paul Mulders who is an Ajax Academy product, end up in another club, and in the lower leagues. Nevertheless, the few that succeed tend to be very good indeed and are often sold by Ajax after playing for a few years in their first team, to the highest bidder, which helps pay for all the developmental costs of training all this players. As quoted by an English coach in that article I mentioned, “All modern ideas on how to develop youngsters begin with Ajax,” Huw Jennings, an architect of the English youth-development system, told me. “They are the founding fathers.” It is also the basis from which FC Barcelona has developed their currently renowned system.
Overall, the best football players tend to get produced following the European and South American concept of development using professional academies but do not always provide the safety net that the college system provides for most players here in the US. However, regardless of origin, grassroots development is essential in producing a sufficient quantity of elite players that will make up our national league and eventually the national team. Whether or not this is done in a academy setting, what is most important is that our players get the proper coaching to develop them properly.
Please. I have a very good understanding of how club academies are run.
You misunderstood me. I said my fear is that these soccer academies BECOME money making machines. Why? Because there is a strong temptation to make a profit from all the hype and I feel for the underprivileged, hence the rant.
So pardon my rant but I'll make my thoughts clear: Are academies good? Yes, they are. Are they the way to the World Cup as this thread proposes? Definitely not.
Well the academies worked in Europe. Certainly in the case of France, the change in their system produced the required results and helped them win the World Cup. Is it the only way? Probably not. We must find a way that is feasible and effective for our situation at this point in time. We are at a different level of development from other countries so our objectives and methods should reflect that.
Actually I just got back from Midnight Mass and checked the computer before going to sleep. Merry Christmas buddy.
What I've proposed in my rant is that football academies, instead of receiving payment in exchange of coaching, should align themselves with local government or private schools and provide coaching. These schools will then make up the academy of that particular club. (So the Kaya FC Academy is in reality the "Baranggay Sinayawan High School varsity team.")
This is exactly what Crystal Palace Football Club is doing through their "Schools Partnership Programme" by linking up with the Whitgift School.
I agree with buddha's point that the way traditional football academies are organised is not very good for the average "masang pinoy" who will probably not want to pay high fees. Their children might not even push through with playing professionally.
I think an advantage to the US sports system is that their feeder teams are not academy-based, but school-based so no additional fees are needed. In the case of the NFL and NBA, all of the new players are from college teams, and sometimes from high school teams.
However, associating the club academy with schools has problems in the Philippine context. The Philippine education system is unreliable. Because of the sheer number of uneducated and drop-outs, not to mention the severe lack of funding, a lot of potential talent from the education sector is untappable. Look at the locally-trained Azkals regulars like Araneta, Caligdong, Sacapano, and Gener. No offence to them, but no big-name college recruited them. They were recruited by Armed Forces teams.
So if you think about it, both the club academies and school-club collaborations are not completely ideal for our situation. They should either do something to lower the fees involved in club academies, or improve Philippine education. I think the former would be more feasible. hehe...
Actually the best US soccer players at the primary or secondary school level did not develop through their public school system. They were trained by private schools or extra scholastic made for profit soccer academies which require a certain level of investment from their parents. This are the ones that can afford the enormous travel expenses in a very big country like the US, that will expose these players to high level elite tournaments. In the past, underprivileged kids tend to get overlooked and are not given the time of day because of their parent's inability to cover expenses. That is why a lot of these kids(of Mexican origin) who are small but skilled players, are recruited by the Mexican leagues instead. Soccer in the US is by and large is still a rich man's sport, although the MLS and the USSF has been making more of an effort to reach some of this talented underprivileged kids and signing them at a very young age.
The European clubs do a better job of being egalitarian in their choice of candidates, signing players without regards to race or economic background, because they can afford to do so. It is all about money folks. Professional clubs exists to make a profit and the best way for them to do so is to create the best players. Like any other business, they realize that this requires a certain amount of investment so they develop this players from a very young age hoping that one of them turns into a gold mine. To illustrate my point please read the Ajax article above.
As for some of our national team players, weren't some of them recruited initially by colleges and universities like they do today. Ian Araneta for instance was a member of the 2001 UST Varsity UAAP champion squad. There is a reason why many schools recruit players from the Western Visayas. They are given scholarships by this schools because that is where our best players in general come from. In a lot of cases in the past before the advent of the UFL, they only then join the Armed Forces after college or in lieu of college, in order to continue their professional football careers because there was no other option. Now that a professional league is slowly coming into existence, they can now choose other avenues to continue as professional football players.
One of the deficiencies I have noted and which Coach Weiss has commented in the past is the lack of a scouting system in the Philippines. There is no organized effort to look for talented players especially at the younger age groups over there so most of these players who otherwise could be developed to become better players if chosen early enough are lost to football. I think this is one of the main areas that the PFF need to address in their development of an efficient and organized grassroots development program.
I recommend just like in other countries that they form a cadre of knowledgeable volunteers at the regional or local level who can act as scouts who can then recommend kids who will then be evaluated by the PFF or professional scouts who can then invite the best players for additional training for possible inclusion in the various age related national teams or in the future professional academies.
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