As I am there by taking down important

As a part of my research topic for my ethnography project, I
have decided to have a look at the reasons as to why young footballers aged 16+
drop out of the sport completely after being rejected/released by a
professional club.  The setting that I
have chosen to be a part of during this project is AFC Dunstable situated in
Luton, this is a semi professional football club that aims to help and develop
young talent into sustainable and dependable first team players for the future.
This club also has a big reputation in persuading talented players who have
just been released from a professional set up and have made the personal decision
to quit football completely. This is the reason as to why I believe this
particular setting would make the most sense to be a part of in terms of the research
topic that I have selected as it is very relevant to my research topic. I also
believe it would be very interesting to see how the coaching staff of the club behave
and conduct themselves during training sessions, match preparations. I also
think that it will be interesting to witness what training methods and tactics
the coaches will implement, to help make the training sessions beneficial for
the team and also to have fun so that players don’t lose interest altogether
which could lead to some starting to misbehave on the training pitch and
effectively ruin a session. I would be studying this topic by observing each
training session and match day for the week that I am there by taking down
important notes of player’s behaviours on the pitch compared to how they behave
off the pitch, and how focused and concentrated are the players during training.

 

The dates that I had arranged to be a part of this setting
were from the 10th-15th December 2017. It was agreed
between me and the other coaches in the team that I would be able to sit down
near the stands and observe the training sessions whilst taking some detailed
notes. On the first day in my new setting I was greeted by the club manager and
the assistant manager, they briefly went through what the days ahead would
consist of, how well the club are doing in the leagues that they’re competing in
and how they can improve to gain promotion for the next season. The times in
which the training sessions were taking place were at 8-10:30pm at the club’s training
ground Monday to Friday. Before the first training session of the week began I
was asked to introduce myself to the team which consisted of 22 players and
explain why I would be observing their sessions and matches for the week. The
areas that I would like to probe in this research project would be looking at
the player’s behaviours on the pitch. That alone can help signify how happy a
player is at the club. An example of this would-be body language when a player
is without the ball, if he’s doing things such as closing down opponents and
fighting for the team offensively and defensively it shows that a player is
very committed to helping the team achieve its goals and objectives. The
training sessions started promptly at 20:10 and it started with pulse raiser
activities such as running laps around the whole pitch, this then escalated to
sport related warm ups; this included things like passing the ball to other
teammates and turning with the ball, this would help the players start getting
used to the ball early in the session. The focus of the training sessions were
mostly defensive drills and work outs as the managers informed me that the team
had been conceding too many goals in matches in the past few weeks. Since it
had been raining heavily throughout the day, the surface was extremely slippery
which meant that the ball was skidding through the surface and that players who
weren’t wearing the correct boots were not able to perform to the best of their
abilities as they kept slipping, sliding and making crucial mistakes that often
resulted into goals to the opposite team. The defensive drills lasted on
average 65minutes as the coaches kept adding different variations to the drill
to really test the defensive players in the team.

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The methodology used in this project is an ethnographic
approach and this will suit my focus really well as it means I can really study
the culture of the participants and the game whilst I’m in the field. It also
means that the most common ethnographic approach is participant observation
which I will be predominately using. I will also be interviewing players that
have come back to the sport after initially deciding to quit, I’ll be
interviewing the players using a semi structured questionnaire that I prepared
beforehand. The way that I went about collecting information for this study was
waiting for the session to finish and whilst everyone was doing their warm down
I’d approach a few players to check their availability to see if they were able
to participate in my questionnaire. The difficulties and limitations In faced
whilst trying to collect data was that on the third day in my setting I didn’t
bring my notebook and pen so for that day I had to base my information on
everything that I remembered, this is a problem because this means for this day
I wouldn’t be able to go into as much depth and detail as I would like. Another
problem I faced was getting players to participate in the questionnaire. This
was because I had mainly chosen to ask the players to participate in the
questionnaire right after a gruelling training session. On the fourth day I
changed my approach and tactics and asked the players before they got changed
and as a result of this I received a more positive reaction.

 

After receiving a lot of requests to do this interview, I
decided to include the interview of Jack, the club captain. Jack had just been
released from Luton Town Fc and this club is the first club he’s played for
since returning to play football. In terms of my research topic and the focus
that I had selected to go through during this project, Jack was the perfect
candidate to ask as to why he decided to give up on football after his first
rejection and what made him want to come back.  I arranged to meet him at the club’s pub after
the training session that he had participated in. I done a I could in making
him comfortable during the whole interview by offering him a drink before we
started. With this interview I wanted to probe and develop my research
questions which were what makes some young footballers quit after one rejection?
what are the barriers and difficulties in trying to develop as a footballer in
a professional academy? And Do youth managers make football fun at academy
level or is it all about developing players to win? Before I interviewed
players such as Jack I had my own personal opinions on these questions; for instance,
I believed that the players that quit after getting a rejection were not
mentally strong enough to become a footballer. Jack had very different views
compared to mine and he brought the focus on the interview down to being
bombarded with pressure as a young footballer in an academy because there are
so many talented players all aiming to achieve the same thing which are
scholarships. I learnt through Jack’s interview that there are about 16 players
in an age group but only 6 scholarships are available to the footballers. Jack
also has the opinion that youth managers release too many players from various
age groups and that your place in an academy is 100% down to how well you
perform compared to other players in the same age group.

 

In conclusion throughout the duration of the week that I
have been in the setting I have learned a lot especially about the youth
football culture in England. The main reasons as to why I went into the setting
was to find out why youth players with a lot of talent decides to quit playing
football altogether when a career could still be made out of it. and it also
gave me an insight into how much pressure that a youth team player in a
professional academy goes through on a day to day basis. Another reason as to
why young players decide to turn away from sport professionally or full time is
because they’re not able to make the right sacrifices such as not going out
partying in a club on a Saturday night, being disciplined with their diet was
also a factor some players didn’t want to have to face. This was the most
popular opinion across