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How well do you know your team?

Posted by CAFS on October 11, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Hi all,

Its been over a year since my last blog, 13 months to be exact! This time i want to talk about how closely grass roots coaches, thats me and you, look at their teams and assess the talent of our players. Are we mistaking age within our group for talent?


The topic we are talking about is Birth Bias. Lets look at Wayne Rooney, Englands shining light, child prodigy, youngest goal scorer in history (before James Milner beat this for leeds)! Wayne Rooney was born October 24th 1985. What does this matter i hear you say. This means that Mr Rooney could potentially be upto 10 months older than others in his age group. This not only means that he may have been physically 10 months more developed, which as we all know can be huge at younger ages, but he would also be 10 months more socially and psychologically developed.


What relevance does this have to football? Well this may mean that when his coach at under 8's was looking at his team of players he see's Wayne turning 8 in October and another player not turning 8 until August of the following year. Who would you pick first? The big, strong, quick, leader Mr Rooney or 'James' who is slightly smaller, slightly weaker and also, of course, has been practicing football for 10 months less than Wayne.


This then means that Mr Rooney gets more match time, has more challenges and gets more practice. This is the start of the cycle. Waynestarts to strive ahead of James through the extra 10 mins a week for his grass roots team, 15 games a season, 150 mins more a year. Then along comes our Everton scout that has heard of Waynes fantastic form and superior talent to the rest of his team, remember this scout has not seen  the back ground,  the training sessions where Wayne is given the responsabilities by the coach over others, the extra match time he has had over the season, doesnt know that James is 10 months younger than Wayne and is just going purely on what he see's.


Wayne then enters Evertons Academy and is exposed to coaching from minimum UEFA 'B' Licenced Coaches, playing against better players with harder challenges and goes from strength to strength before 'that goal' against Arsenal at Goodison on October 19th, 5 days before his 17th Birthday!


So lets look back, where is James? and why didn't he get the same opportunity to practice as Wayne? How good could James have been had he been given an equal opportunity to practice, not only in training but also in match situations?


Missed opportunity?


Just look at these players names and birthdays!

Paul Scholes - November 16th
Ryan Giggs - November 29th
Tony Adams - October 10th
David Seaman - September 19th
Bobby Charlton - October 11th
Andy Cole - October 15th
Michael Owen - December 14th
Gary Lineker - November 30th
Gary Cahill - December 19th
Ashley Cole - December 20th
Danny Welbeck - November 26th
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - August 15th (played down a year at Southamptons Academy, making him the oldest in his group)


The list goes on. Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Michael Owen, 3 of Englands greatest ever strikers all born in October, November and December respectively!


Obviously this is not the case with every player and not the only reason for these players metioric rises to stardom and the top of the game, as discussed in a previous blog here, but did it help? I would be pretty confident in saying it did.


So next time you pick a team try and have a look at the ages of your players? Are you, without even knowing it, mistaking age for talent? picking the older players as it will help you win the game? and potentially missing an opportunity to develop a child?


Can we have equal playing time policies written into our coaches code of conducts at our grass roots clubs?


Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom with your thoughts about this issue or just to let me know what you think of the blog!


Thank you for your time and I hope this blog has been thought provoking and may allow you to develop even more young talented people through football.


See you all soon.....


Steve :-)


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