The dream for many young players and their parents is to join a professional football academy where they are surrounded by expert staff, practicing at the finest training facilities and competing against the best teams in the region.
But, while some players have the chance of integrating professional academies from a young age, the reality for many talented players is that they must continue their football development in teams playing in the amateur divisions. Certainly, there is no doubt that amateur clubs play an essential role in the football pyramid, working with passionate and experienced coaches and providing opportunities for the majority of young players to develop as footballers and as individuals.
However, it is undeniable that the difference in financial resources, the lower level of competition and visibility offered at amateur clubs compared to professional academies is a frustration for many players and parents.
As a result, players and parents look for new opportunities for the best chances of reaching a professional football career. But, finding new opportunities is not always straightforward and can leave many feeling discouraged.
In this article, we explore some possible options for players and parents looking to find scouting other opportunities to help them in their football development.
1. LOCAL DETECTION DAYS
Because of the large number of players developing in amateur football clubs and the numerous talents that go under the radar of Pro teams, several professional academies have started organising “Detection Days” every year in partnership with local amateur football clubs.
The “Detection Days” offer players a day of training under the supervision of professional academy coaches with the goal of finding talented players to go on trial at the academies. For players not yet training at the highest level, these events can be good opportunities to be seen by professional academy coaches and possibly catch the eye of the clubs.
2. INTEGRATING REGIONAL TEAMS
The Football Federations have also set-up regional teams with the aim of offering talented players competing in amateur divisions the opportunity to train and play matches with the best players from their region. Players are sometimes selected by regional scouts watching matches of the amateur divisions. However, the Football Federations also organise their own talent days. The dates of these talent days can be found on their website, like for example, on the website of Voetbal Vlaanderen and the ACFF.
3. PRIVATE ACADEMIES
Because of the limited resources at local amateur clubs, several ex-professional players and experienced football coaches have started opening private football academies. Firstly, to give talented players additional personalised training to supplement their club trainings and to work on specific areas of their game.
Secondly, to provide talented players additional support and opportunities to test themselves against better opposition. As a result, some private academies organise friendly matches against professional academies for their players to play against the best players of their age group and gain visibility.
4. FOOTBALL TRIAL COMPANIES & AGENCIES
There are also Football Trial companies specialised in the organisation of one-day football trial events. These companies invite professional football scouts from their network to their events so that players of various ages can show their talent.
Football trials usually involve a training session and a match to observe the players in different contexts and deliver an evaluation report to each player to share what aspects players need to work on. And at the end of the events, players that were noticed by scouts are invited to trials at professional football academies.
Football agencies can be another option to explore because these companies have a network of contacts in professional football clubs. And while agencies might not be able to guarantee trials at clubs, if they are respectable and trustworthy organisations, they can be able to provide information on opportunities and genuine advice for your situation.
However, whether we are talking about Football Trials companies or football agencies, it is always critical to be cautious and to do your own research on these companies beforehand to make sure that they are organisations that you can trust.
5. INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCES
International football camps abroad are another valuable option that players and parents should seriously consider. These experiences at professional football clubs can take the form of single-day clinics or week-long camps at the clubs’ official training centres.
While, these events are not free and are not promoted as scouting events (sometimes this is not permitted due to football regulations), they are useful opportunities for talented players to train in inspiring and state-of-the-art facilities under the supervision of professional football coaches.
Through these football camps, players experience top-quality training and are given feedback on their performance to identify areas to work on. Specifically, players are able to train with coaches that are used to developing players of the highest level and most importantly, gain experience training at a higher-level with international players. At the end of the event, these experiences are also a great opportunity for players and parents to receive advice for their particular situation and guidance on what steps to take next.
Thanks for reading!
We hope this article gave you a better idea of some options for players to train at a higher-level and keep developing their football. At Oxasport, we help football players and coaches improve their skills through experiences and educational resources. Check out our Football Education Programs for football players and coaches to discover experiences develop your skills at the best Clubs in the world.