Elite Youth Players Perceptions of English Professional Soccer Club’s Talent Identification Camp Participation
Keywords:talent identification, youth soccer, soccer camps, professional academies
The purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of elite youth soccer player’s participation in talent identification camps associated with professional soccer academies in England. Participants were five American youth soccer players aged between 10 and 14 years old located in the Northeastern United States. Qualitative data were collected through individual semi-structured interviews. Analytic induction techniques were used to analyze the data, and NVivo 11 Pro software was employed to manage and code the data. The data suggested that there were four major themes that participants perceived as an advantage in their development as soccer players. Those themes were: (a) individual improvements, (b) challenging coaches, (c) higher quality players, and (d) the professional player experience. In contrast, participants felt that the disadvantages of participating in these camps were related to logistical issues. Players aired their frustrations at some of the logistical components of the camps including national camp temperatures, too much free time, and poor food options in England. From a player development perspective, it appears that there are many advantages to participating in talent identification soccer camps, especially the national and international level camps. However, logistically camp organizers may wish to consider weather, scheduling, and food options when planning future camps.
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