As a part of my research topic for my ethnography project, Ihave 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 aprofessional club.
The setting that Ihave chosen to be a part of during this project is AFC Dunstable situated inLuton, this is a semi professional football club that aims to help and developyoung talent into sustainable and dependable first team players for the future.This club also has a big reputation in persuading talented players who havejust been released from a professional set up and have made the personal decisionto quit football completely. This is the reason as to why I believe thisparticular setting would make the most sense to be a part of in terms of the researchtopic that I have selected as it is very relevant to my research topic.
I alsobelieve it would be very interesting to see how the coaching staff of the club behaveand conduct themselves during training sessions, match preparations. I alsothink that it will be interesting to witness what training methods and tacticsthe coaches will implement, to help make the training sessions beneficial forthe team and also to have fun so that players don’t lose interest altogetherwhich could lead to some starting to misbehave on the training pitch andeffectively ruin a session. I would be studying this topic by observing eachtraining session and match day for the week that I am there by taking downimportant notes of player’s behaviours on the pitch compared to how they behaveoff the pitch, and how focused and concentrated are the players during training. The dates that I had arranged to be a part of this settingwere from the 10th-15th December 2017.
It was agreedbetween me and the other coaches in the team that I would be able to sit downnear the stands and observe the training sessions whilst taking some detailednotes. On the first day in my new setting I was greeted by the club manager andthe assistant manager, they briefly went through what the days ahead wouldconsist of, how well the club are doing in the leagues that they’re competing inand how they can improve to gain promotion for the next season. The times inwhich the training sessions were taking place were at 8-10:30pm at the club’s trainingground Monday to Friday. Before the first training session of the week began Iwas asked to introduce myself to the team which consisted of 22 players andexplain why I would be observing their sessions and matches for the week. Theareas that I would like to probe in this research project would be looking atthe player’s behaviours on the pitch. That alone can help signify how happy aplayer is at the club. An example of this would-be body language when a playeris without the ball, if he’s doing things such as closing down opponents andfighting for the team offensively and defensively it shows that a player isvery committed to helping the team achieve its goals and objectives.
Thetraining sessions started promptly at 20:10 and it started with pulse raiseractivities such as running laps around the whole pitch, this then escalated tosport related warm ups; this included things like passing the ball to otherteammates and turning with the ball, this would help the players start gettingused to the ball early in the session. The focus of the training sessions weremostly defensive drills and work outs as the managers informed me that the teamhad been conceding too many goals in matches in the past few weeks. Since ithad been raining heavily throughout the day, the surface was extremely slipperywhich meant that the ball was skidding through the surface and that players whoweren’t wearing the correct boots were not able to perform to the best of theirabilities as they kept slipping, sliding and making crucial mistakes that oftenresulted into goals to the opposite team.
The defensive drills lasted onaverage 65minutes as the coaches kept adding different variations to the drillto really test the defensive players in the team. The methodology used in this project is an ethnographicapproach and this will suit my focus really well as it means I can really studythe culture of the participants and the game whilst I’m in the field. It alsomeans that the most common ethnographic approach is participant observationwhich I will be predominately using. I will also be interviewing players thathave come back to the sport after initially deciding to quit, I’ll beinterviewing the players using a semi structured questionnaire that I preparedbeforehand. The way that I went about collecting information for this study waswaiting for the session to finish and whilst everyone was doing their warm downI’d approach a few players to check their availability to see if they were ableto participate in my questionnaire.
The difficulties and limitations In facedwhilst trying to collect data was that on the third day in my setting I didn’tbring my notebook and pen so for that day I had to base my information oneverything that I remembered, this is a problem because this means for this dayI wouldn’t be able to go into as much depth and detail as I would like. Anotherproblem I faced was getting players to participate in the questionnaire. Thiswas because I had mainly chosen to ask the players to participate in thequestionnaire right after a gruelling training session. On the fourth day Ichanged my approach and tactics and asked the players before they got changedand as a result of this I received a more positive reaction. After receiving a lot of requests to do this interview, Idecided to include the interview of Jack, the club captain. Jack had just beenreleased from Luton Town Fc and this club is the first club he’s played forsince returning to play football. In terms of my research topic and the focusthat I had selected to go through during this project, Jack was the perfectcandidate to ask as to why he decided to give up on football after his firstrejection and what made him want to come back.
I arranged to meet him at the club’s pub afterthe training session that he had participated in. I done a I could in makinghim comfortable during the whole interview by offering him a drink before westarted. With this interview I wanted to probe and develop my researchquestions which were what makes some young footballers quit after one rejection?what are the barriers and difficulties in trying to develop as a footballer ina professional academy? And Do youth managers make football fun at academylevel or is it all about developing players to win? Before I interviewedplayers 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 notmentally strong enough to become a footballer. Jack had very different viewscompared to mine and he brought the focus on the interview down to beingbombarded with pressure as a young footballer in an academy because there areso many talented players all aiming to achieve the same thing which arescholarships. I learnt through Jack’s interview that there are about 16 playersin an age group but only 6 scholarships are available to the footballers. Jackalso has the opinion that youth managers release too many players from variousage groups and that your place in an academy is 100% down to how well youperform compared to other players in the same age group. In conclusion throughout the duration of the week that Ihave been in the setting I have learned a lot especially about the youthfootball culture in England. The main reasons as to why I went into the settingwas to find out why youth players with a lot of talent decides to quit playingfootball altogether when a career could still be made out of it.
and it alsogave me an insight into how much pressure that a youth team player in aprofessional academy goes through on a day to day basis. Another reason as towhy young players decide to turn away from sport professionally or full time isbecause they’re not able to make the right sacrifices such as not going outpartying in a club on a Saturday night, being disciplined with their diet wasalso a factor some players didn’t want to have to face. This was the mostpopular opinion across