Q: What are the main characteristics you look at when selecting a young player?
A: During the selection process we first look at 3 main characteristics:
1. technical ability
2. strength and physical build,
3. and good motor skills.
Then we look at a fourth and in a way the most important component, which is personality.
Q: What do you mean by personality?
A: Even at the youth level within a professional club, there are lots of expectations, and young players face a lot of pressures. At even playing ability, we choose those with strong personality traits like leadership and self-confidence, which we think, will allow them to deal with pressure situations as they present themselves.
Q: Does this process apply for all the players?
A: Yes, it applies for any player that comes to our teams. Another important factor that has to be considered is puberty. If we have two players with the same technical ability, but one has gone through puberty, then maybe we have to look more at the other player, because he might have more of an improvement after he goes through puberty.
Q: Wouldn't you rather have a 13-yr. old player who is big and strong on your team, rather then one the same age, which is as good but smaller?
A: The answer is yes, if we wanted to win now. But our objective in our youth system is not to win now, but to develop players for tomorrow. That is why we look at the total player development in a futuristic prospective.
Q: From the physical side, what is your approach?
A: Let s take for example a player that come to us at the pulcini category (9-10). The first two years we work on general coordination (running, walking, jumping, and climbing), and we use soccer as a tool to complement our work. The whole idea is to give the players a variety of motor experiences that would teach him about his body and how to deal with situations as they present themselves. In the 3 rd year, we start to work on soccer specific coordination activities, for example: jumping to head a ball, running backwards, and changing direction.
Q: Are you doing all this with or without the ball?
A: At the pulcini s (u11) level it is important that all these activities are done in the form of games or competitions, and that the ball is used most of the time. Therefore we look at coordination games rather than coordination exercises. As they get older, a formal exercise regiment is introduced in order to get them used to training