Dept. of Sport Sciences, Malmö University
The purpose of this discussion-oriented article is to identify and compare how Swedish football at the national and district level, respectively, relates to the Relative Age Effect (RAE) in their choices for talent development.
Interviews were conducted with Swedish Football Association’s (SFA) former director of player education, Thomas Lyth, and the three district associations Skåne, Småland and Gothenburg.
There is criticism of the youngest youth national teams from the three heavy football districts. The criticisms have different nuances, but they all agree that at least the U15 national team is too early. This is in light of the RAE and the difficulty of predicting which young players have the greatest chance of reaching elite level in adulthood.
The study also shows that there is disagreement between SFA’s view of how talent development look like in Sweden and how the districts perceive it. SFA, through director of player education Thomas Lyth, claims that in most districts (Skåne is an exception) there is too little educational thinking and too much selection. The Gothenburg and Småland football associations do not agree at all, but claim that it is they who are forced to take a 16-man group to the elite camp and that the message from SFA is to only watch the 60-group (players of interest for the national team). However, they want to be wider and choose to educate more players.
PETER SUNDSTRÖM has a master’s degree in Sport Science at Malmö University. His essays have focused on talent development, selection and professionalization.
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