As a country we can learn a thing or two from Southampton Football Club about a proper attitude to our young people.
It is common for a Premier League football club to field a side largely comprising foreign players. It has not been unknown for a starting lineup to include no indigenous players at all.
But, as reported by the Daily Telegraph, at least one club – Southampton, currently enjoying a good first half of the season – takes a different approach.
Southampton’s managers travelled the globe to study best practice elsewhere. They were particularly impressed with the La Masia academy at Barcelona, probably the best club side in the world at the moment.
In setting up its own similar organisation the club chairman Nicola Cortese said, “We would want to see a starting XI in the Premier League that is fed from our youth development”.
Manager Mauricio Pochettino, himself from Argentina, added that English players are technically good, brave and daring and just need to be able to show that on the field.
The club is investing £30 million in its training ground including facilities for under 8s. There is a commitment to its youth team players that if they perform well enough there is an expectation of progression to the first team, and they are encouraged to attend first team training sessions.
More mature players from other clubs and divisions have also benefited from Southampton’s approach and developed sufficiently well to end up playing international football for the club. ■