Actors, interactions, ties, and networks: the ‘doing’ of talent identification and development work in elite youth football academies

Ryan Thomas*, Edward Hall, Lee J. Nelson, Paul Potrac

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) has transformed the ways in which young players are recruited, coached, supported and evaluated. To date, our scientific understanding of talent identification and development processes has been largely informed by (post)positivist studies addressing the physiological, psychological and biomechanical features of elite youth performance. In this paper, Crossley’s relational theorising is presented as a heuristic device that could allow us to systematically recognise the interdependencies, ties, dialectics, and co-constituted interactions that comprise talent identification and development activities in professional football. We argue that his thesis enables us to better understand both a) the configuration and meaning making of those that comprise these relational networks, and b) the enabling and constraining features of (inter)action for these interconnected actors. For us, such knowledge can ultimately support the generation of accounts of talent identification and development that better reflect their inherently social, interactive and practical complexity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)420-431
Number of pages12
JournalSoccer and Society
Volume23
Issue number4-5
Early online date3 Apr 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Apr 2022

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