For many years, there has been a Swedish national football team for boys 15 years old. Discussions have been ongoing whether the existence of such a team functions as a catalyst for talent development or not. Research conducted previously shows that talents selected for elite camps and national youth teams in football most often are born during the first half of the year. One contributing cause for this is physical maturity; this phenomenon is known as Relative Age Effect (RAE). The present study examines the relationship between birth date and selection to the Swedish under 15 boys’ national team. It also investigates whether selection at such a young age contributes to a sustained career at the international level. The study is based on the under 15 national teams that has been issued during the period 2000–2010. All original squads (first selection) have been followed up through the youth national teams (U16, U17, U18, U19), to the U21-national team. A total of 266 players were part of the under 15 boys national teams during these years. Results show that 74% were born in the first half of the year and 26% in the second half of the year, indicating that RAE is, in fact, a factor that affects selection to the under 15 boys national teams in Sweden. 46 of the 266 players represented Sweden in both an under 15 national team and a U-21 national team during these ten years.
FILIP ANDERSSON is 32 years old and lives in Kalmar, Sweden. He has a Bachelors degree in Sport Science, specializing in sport management and coaching, from Linnaeus University in Växjö, Sweden. He is currently studying for a Masters degree in Sports Science with focus on football talent identification and selection.