Creating a level playing field for every youth footballer
For the past two years, I’ve read, conversed, and thought about the current state of football and how technology and innovation are implemented in our beloved game. For some time I have been thinking to share my thoughts and opinions on these matters through a column. After FIFA released a new study on the global talent development ecosystem I realized this was a perfect starting point. Starting today with.
Creating a level playing field for every youth footballer
‘Every youth player should have the chance to be scouted, identified and developed regardless of where they are from, when they were born or their social or economic background.’ It’s one of the many recommendations for clubs, academies, and federations in a well-documented FIFA study that took over 14-months to be created and was conducted among 205 Member Associations (MAs).
It’s great to see that the supreme authority in football is prioritizing youth football and is trying to improve talent development via clear call to actions, mainly because the mission the FIFA takes up here is the same as the one I chose to embrace in 2018. As a football father, I ended up in the development process of my son and noticed that it was far from perfect—from the total lack of objective data in the entire decision-making process to suboptimal training conditions.
This epiphany triggered me to combine football and technology, two of my passions, into a solution to help youth players worldwide. Thus, JOGO was born, a data-driven platform to track, analyze, and improve players with the help of a mobile phone—making the whole development process of a player more visible and creating a training tool so every kid in the world can work on their skills.
Access to football
The FIFA report emphasizes that many talented players remain undiscovered due to several factors, including the lack of planning, quality of education, infrastructure, and financial resources to train youngsters. The biggest bottleneck in the whole development process is that numerous kids don’t even have access to football. So a lot of potential talent is already wasted before it has even been identified.
That’s also why Arsène Wenger, FIFA’s current Chief of Global Football Development, stresses the importance of having access to football for every kid with dreams. He sees this as a significant aspect of identifying talent. The latter is the first phase of a talent’s pathway, which is followed by the training of talent, the playing opportunities, and last but not least, the transition of talent—from youth to senior level.
And that’s why Wenger is called Le Professeur because he is spot on here. To identify someone as a talent, one should, first of all, have an actual shot of kick-starting his or her football dream. When you give everyone a fair chance to play, you can see who plays well and who doesn’t, especially if you have data to support the identification process objectively. Otherwise, the claims will be once again based on subjectivity and, therefore, not necessarily flawless. I see enough young footballers that play for a professional club who shouldn’t be there and vice versa.
I want to bring football (back) to the kid with dreams. Then I’m not just talking about the talents at pro clubs but also the youngsters that play for their local amateur club or simply on the streets. Our beautiful game shouldn’t be exclusive but accessible for every youth player worldwide. Regardless of their background or even if they have what it takes (time will tell).
With JOGO, we aim to create a level playing field for all young footballers by giving them access to a free mobile app to train, develop themselves, and provide visibility to their talent. Our new project JOGO World fits in seamlessly in this mission. It gives youth players a chance to sign-up for the national JOGO team of their respective country and train under a coach selected by us. But more about that soon.
Data and technology are key
All in all, I’m thrilled to see that FIFA is trying to lift youth development to the next level, but even more so that they see an important role there for data and technology. The report emphasizes the importance of technology to support the collection of data to support the identification process of talent objectively, but also to empower and monitor the development of individuals more effectively. ‘Data contributes significantly to informed decisions that are both effective and resourceful. MAs need to recognize the importance of data in the growth and development of the modern game’ states one of the key recommendations in the 170-page study.
It shows that the football community sees data and technology – finally! – as key in optimizing youth development. Of course, data usage is often linked to scouting purposes and financial gain, but you can do so much more with it. For example, you can easily use it to empower the development process — by giving youth players as well as trainers and clubs more insights to work with. More clubs and academies become aware of that, but mainly in the top segment of the football pyramid. So there is still a world to gain to ensure that objective data supports development processes on all levels.
In that respect, JOGO could be quite an asset to FIFA’s mission to strengthen the development process with the help of technology. The data-driven platform is, after all, accessible for everyone involved. Besides, it’s a good training tool for youth players but also a way for trainers and clubs to track, analyze, and improve their youngsters objectively. Wherever, whenever, because learning never stops.
Now is the time to move on and invest in youth development, the heart and soul of football culture worldwide. So let’s give every player a chance and make history together!
As the founder and CEO of JOGO and with the help of my talented team, I want to revolutionize youth football and talent development via top-notch technology.
Feel free to reach out for any question, discussion, or collaboration.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org