COVID-19 a major setback for youth football – Speid

May 21, 2020

Cavalier technical director, Rudolph Speid, says the coronavirus pandemic is a major setback for local youth football development. According to Speid this setback will occur mainly among 'elite' youth players looking to gain scholarships, make national teams, or earn professional contracts.

While he does not think the global health crisis would be as severe on the development of grass roots players, he believes the absence of training and competitions for almost a full year will be a serious hindrance in the growth of young aspiring players.

"The purists say it takes 10,000 hours of practice, over a 12-year period to become a specialist in anything," he noted. "A lot of people believe that to become the real deal, you start young and become competent at a young age. So what this (pandemic) has done is really set back preparation time. Players will not be as advanced as they should be if they should lose a year. Losing a year will have a lot more impact on a young player because young players improve at a faster rate than old players," he commented.

Earn professional contracts

He said at the grass roots level players are not competing against the world. "It's the elite players who are competing against the world. Elite players who are looking to go into national teams, get scholarships or earn professional contracts are competing with athletes from all over the world. So the elites who are competing against the rest of the world, we will have to find a way to help them catch up," he said.

With the schoolboy football season more likely to be impacted as well, Speid anticipates that clubs will have to play a greater role accommodating the training of players this year.

"The school system usually helps us between September and December but that might not be there, so clubs will have to take up the slack. We always incorporate the school structure in whatever we are doing, but without that there, it will come back to the clubs," he reasoned.

"It's a real significant setback, so (after COVID-19) we will have to put in more (training) sessions or get into more competitions locally and abroad," Speid said. Cavalier has been one of the most successful clubs in youth football locally over the last decade. The club has helped transition its youth players into their senior team more than any other club. Recently, they were ranked ninth internationally by CITES (International Centre for Sports Studies) football observatory for using players under 21 for 58.1 per cent of team minutes over this season.

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