Thinking outside the box – VfL Rheinhausen

How grassroots sport is sacrificed on the altar of talent development

In every sport imaginable, people travel from country to country to look for talent. In football, where at the end of a sporting education there beckons a professional life that is highly respected by the public and highly profitable for the individual, the whole thing is increasingly being driven ad absurdum. Children are being lured away from their home clubs at an ever younger age, they are challenged and encouraged, but if necessary they are quickly passed on or simply exchanged and dropped. The consequence of this personal failure, usually very early in childhood or adolescence, often leads to children withdrawing from football in particular and, if in doubt, from sport in general.

– The short-term team success is above the long-term development of individual players. The proportion of newly signed foreign players is steadily increasing. And football takes precedence over school education.

Michael Franke wrote a very interesting column on these events in the Hard Court Heroes section. The author takes up a study by the sports scientist Prof. Arne Güllich from the TU Kaiserslautern, who is very active in the field of children and youth sports promotion, and derives some core statements for the national soccer youth from it.

Here are some of the statements:

  • Scouting children under the age of 14 makes little or no sense.
  • An increase in training units in children and early adolescence leads at best to short-term increases in performance, but in the long term the chances of being successful decrease drastically. The reasons for this are injuries, too one-sided training (no other sport, no other interests, too little school effort), physical and psychological long-term effects.
  • Child-friendly sports promotion is good mass sports training in the usual social environment (home club) with low to at most moderate intensity.

Anyone who would like to take a look at Prof. Güllich’s study. can download it here.

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