ming the merciless wrote: One of Argyles problems is selling the dream to potential recruits and their parents. What recent success can they point to that will help parents choose us over Exeter who have done very well.
Another thing that has put youngsters off is our reputation in the city for treating the kids badly. My son was at the academy and left because he hated the way the coaches talked to him. It seemed that they didn't want the boys enjoying their football. Why?
Some of these old meat head pros will tell you that the harsh treatment they received when they emerged didn't do them any harm. I say that they made it despite being treated that way, not because of it. How many truly gifted players had to go on the scrap heap for them to get their chances in football. I Kevin Hodges case, he was such a gifted player he was always going to make it. But he may think enduring harsh treatment as a lad helped him on his way. I think they do it to try and instill resilience. But the truth is that people vote with their feet. When they can be at marine academy or Exeter City or even at home on the x box and the lads doing those things are loving it, why would you do something that isn't enjoyable. As a kid you wouldn't unless you pushed into it by someone who knows best.
Watching talented players fall by the wayside and seeing a tough as nails, resilient players that have very little talent staying on is utterly heartbreaking, and not what I want for my club. But it's pretty well where we are. I met a steady stream of parents who's sons had been invited but the parents said no way because of Plymouth had a bad name in the area. I remember chatting with one parent of a lad on a six week trial. The lad looked the business on the pitch but the parent said as far as he was concerned it wasn't his son on trial it was the club. Again this was because he'd heard so much bad stuff. He took his lad out after about two weeks in. That was our loss. So few make from any academy. Why not let them enjoy the journey. We have never nurtured talent. We take gifted players and try to break them then say they weren't up to it. I doubt my lad was ever going to make it. He had some serious talent but the bar is so high its very hard to make it.
Totally with you Ming and this is the experience that so many youngsters have gone through, not just at Argyle, but for years throughout the football industry, which is brutal and exploitative of kids pursueing their dream.
To be fair that is partly why the EPPP and Category system exists. To qualify for Category 1 status clubs have to provide not just top quality football coaches, but full time psychologists, quality education and teachers. Argyle can't hope to compete with these stringent regulations and standards when our very survival as a football club has been paramount in the last few years.
I can only speak from our experinence at Brighton, but the kids are made aware regularly, as they move on up through the years, that only one in twenty of them is ever likely to play professional or even semi professional football.
The academy employ two full time female pschologists just to cover the different age groups up to the u18s. The coaches aren't just from fooball backgrounds but they alao employ fully trained sports scientists. The emphasis is not just what the kids can do with their feet but focusing their minds on and off the pitch and do as much as they possibly can to prepare for a life in or outside of the football industry.
This is why I think Argyle have to think through a radical youth policy and as to how they can survive in a fast changing industry with limited resources.