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‘Good Lads’ BSBC welcomes Dr Schlomit Guy for its second public seminar of 2016/17

Birkbeck welcomed Dr Schlomit Guy, author of ‘Good Lads Play Football: A Year Visit At The Chelsea And Arsenal Academies’, on the 17th October for the second seminar in the Birkbeck Sport Business Centre’s public seminar series. The Israeli sports researcher drew on her recent work to discuss with the audience of students, industry professionals and academics the important and, sometimes closed, role of youth academies in producing the next generation of footballers.

Having made regular weekly visits to the Arsenal and Chelsea youth academies during the 2007/2008 season, Dr Guy provided insight not only into the process of turning raw talent into professional players, but crucially, of making well-rounded and functioning young men. With access to two of the most esteemed clubs in the world, Dr Guy’s work revealed a holistic and comprehensive education designed to produce both superstars and ‘good lads’.

A major component of any young footballer’s life is undoubtedly their parents or guardians. Whilst those familiar with Saturday little league football may be familiar with a chorus of vocal parents issuing instructions, criticisms and incitements from the touchline, this level of interaction is not one promoted by youth academies. Dr Guy revealed that the chief consideration for any youth academy setup is a clear and fair way to navigate the competing demands of clubs, parents and players. Indeed, codes of conduct are as much for parents as for players and have been diligently constructed to make sure that parental passion doesn’t curb footballing potential.

The Chelsea academy has its core tenets inscribed in stone monolith at its academy, encouraging young footballers to display “Excellence, Pride, Style, Integrity, Unity and Leadership”. Dr Guy discussed with the audience how important these tenets are in grounding players in a culture of respect – one that not only makes them well-rounded individuals but establishes key traits necessary to teamwork and being part of a club.

With a diverse audience that included academics, students, ex-footballers, coaches and industry professionals, Dr Guy’s insights fostered a debate around youth competition, training models and the need to encourage respect among all athletes.

The next Birkbeck Sport Business Centre public seminar will be ‘Time To Stop Playing Games With Industrial Policy? What Government And Business Might Learn From Team GB’ on the 31st October.

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