Developing Talented Soccer Players: An Analysis of Socio-Spatial Factors as Possible Key Constraints

Resumen:
Most studies on the identification and development of soccer talent have been one-dimensional in nature. Although some multi-dimensional analyses have been conducted, few research studies have assessed in any depth the socio-spatial factors influencing talent development. The aim of this particular study was to analyse variations in the international representation of clubs (n = 821) and countries (n = 59) in the development of players who took part in the 2014 FIFA Soccer World Cup. Clubs and countries were ranked and divided into quartiles according to the number of players developed between the ages of 15 and 21 (clubs and countries that developed players for at least three years between these ages) and the number of official league matches played by these players up to the age of 23. Significant variations were observed between clubs in terms of the number of developed players who took part in the World Cup and the number of official league matches played by these players up to the age of 23 (p<.05), and also between countries (p<.05). The findings reveal the need to carry out more in-depth studies into the type of training and competition engaged in by elite players in the period of development between the ages of 15 and 21. It may be the case that these factors are potentially decisive socio-spatial constraints in the development of soccer talent.

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