ECA News

Today sees the launch of the 12 Quality Areas Youth Football Report, ECA’s essential guide for the development of youth academies.

The report was produced in conjunction with LTT Sports, and it is hoped that the research will enable those working in youth football to have a better understanding of the factors that have a significant impact on the quality of individual youth academies.

The 12 Quality Areas report – initially released last week at our Youth Football Knowledge Exchange session in Bilbao – follows up on the original ECA publication from 2017, in which the 12 Quality Areas concept was first introduced.

The latest report provides a detailed explanation of the different pillars and their impact on the youth development process. It goes much further than its predecessor, though, by including not only an enhanced overview of the 12 Quality Areas and each of their sub-components, but by also demonstrating how they interrelate with academy working processes, and by evaluating their relative significance via quantitative statistical methods.

Ultimately, this latest report reveals which working processes academies are using, and which ones, in particular, are being used at leading clubs.

In order to capture useful snapshots and best practices, the youth report team conducted over 40 hours-worth of semi-structured interviews with 18 academy representatives around Europe. The team also conducted a survey, which focused on various academy-level working processes, and which centred around a number of process groups, spanning the entire youth development pathway. More than 352 academy leaders across 72 countries responded.

Recognising indicators of development of successful youth academies is a step ahead of the current approach.

“The pandemic has affected the football world heavily and many academies have had to be flexible to deal with ever-changing circumstances,” explains Edwin van der Sar, Chairman of the ECA Youth Working Group, ECA Vice Chairman and CEO AFC Ajax.

“This only strengthens our belief about the important role the ECA Youth Working Group has to play. We firmly believe that youth academies can strengthen both themselves and each other through constant cooperation and the sharing of knowledge, including the release of this report.

“Projects such as this help ECA members to navigate global developments, gain further industry knowledge, and learn from best practice plans. This plays a crucial role in our aim to bring talent development at all clubs to the highest level, and inspire youth around the world with the game we love to play.”

ECA Football Development Analyst, Pouya Yaghoubinia, the Administration's lead for this project explained: “ECA members who attended our Youth Football Knowledge Exchange session in Bilbao were really interested to read what we had done, particularly to find out not only the best working practices in Europe, but also the working processes that make academies successful in terms of talent development."

“Now, our report is available to anyone who would like to read it. It will be distributed to our member clubs, national associations and other stakeholders, and will be available again at our General Assembly in Vienna later this month.

“There is a lot of statistical data for those working in youth academies to digest. Ultimately, we hope that by revealing the correlation and interdependencies between the 12 Quality Areas, as well as the most used working processes by those deemed to be among ‘the most successful’ academies, we can inspire all those working in youth football.”

The ECA 12 Quality Areas report can be downloaded here.