One of the great things about working at Scout7 is that you are in the privileged position of being able to get a glimpse, through our data and video, of the stars of tomorrow as they make their way through the youth ranks.
We often talk about scouting and player monitoring occurring over an extended period of time. A player may be identified by a scouting department when they are in their mid-teens, but the process of monitoring, assessing and reviewing them may run for several years before a final decision on them is made.
Part of our job is to ensure that a club can facilitate this process through their Scout7 platforms, so their scouts can objectively monitor their prospects on a week-to-week basis and evaluate their performance against different teams, as well as when they play in different environments.
So alongside our coverage of domestic youth leagues in several European countries, one of our key objectives, from a content perspective, is to provide our clubs with the most comprehensive source for youth tournament football anywhere in the world.
During the last twelve months, we have entered fixtures, squads, line-ups and in a number of cases, full match video, for over 150 youth tournaments played around the world, from U16 level up to U21, featuring both club and international teams.
So why is tournament football so important to us? Well there are a number of different reasons. Firstly, from a scouting perspective, it gives scouts an opportunity to watch players they may already be monitoring in a different environment. They may be playing for their national team instead of their club side, or they may be playing against a club from overseas and facing opponents who approach the game differently to what they are used to domestically.
If the tournament is abroad, they also have to acclimatise to staying away from home, which can be a challenge in itself, which is even before you take into account that they will be playing several games in quick succession, with limited recovery time, something which they may not be used to with their domestic games programme.
So as you can see, there is potentially a huge amount you can learn over just a few days to further build up your knowledge of a player you already know. This is allied to the fact that you can also watch a decent number of players ‘live’ for the very first time, as several foreign teams will fly in specifically to play in a tournament. Not every team has the luxury of having scouts on the ground in several different countries, so this provides an opportunity to see players in the flesh who you may have only previously seen on video.
We have looked back into our archive, and it is fascinating to see how many players we have recorded as playing in a youth competition who have gone on to firmly establish themselves at first team level. Here are a few examples:
|Bellinzona||U18||2009||Tottenham Hotspur||Harry Kane, Ryan Mason, Steven Caulker|
|Al Kass Cup||U17||2012||Barcelona||Munir El Haddadi, Sandro Ramírez|
|Spax Cup||U19||2013||FC Schalke 04||Max Meyer|
|Veria||U19||2014||Germany||Timo Baumgartl, Gianluca Gaudino|
In the cases of Harry Kane and Ryan Mason, nearly five years elapsed before they played regularly for their parent club after being part of a team at Bellinzona that beat the likes of Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon at U18 level, which highlights the long-term aspect of monitoring player development from a scouting perspective.
Of course there are also huge benefits for the players themselves taking part in tournaments too. If they are going to go on to play for their clubs in confederation tournaments, such as the Champions League, or even represent their countries at major youth or senior international tournaments, having tournament experience at a young age can only be beneficial to them and their personal development.
This is why we place such emphasis on tournaments, both in terms of our coverage and also in the work we do with a number of our key industry partners, who include a number of major tournaments around Europe.
Two of our partner tournaments are taking place during the next seven days and given the quality of the competing teams, we are very excited at the prospect of supporting both.
The first event is the U19 Spax Cup, which is one of many club tournaments taking place in Germany over the Bank Holiday weekend. As well as featuring three elite domestic teams, Borussia Dortmund, Hamburger SV and Hannover 96, they will also be playing host to Southampton, who will be bringing this season’s U18 intake from their renowned youth Academy and the Dutch side Feyenoord, whose squad includes fifteen youth internationals from the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and Panama.
Completing the line-up are two Brazilian teams, Atletico Mineiro and Fluminense, who both also played in the Terborg Tournament last week. Both made quite an impression in that tournament too, with Minerio finishing third and Fluminense going on to lift the trophy after beating Tottenham 1-0 in the final.
The victorious Fluminense side from the 2015 Terborg Tournament
During the Spax Cup we will not only be publishing line-ups from every game, but will also be filming every game in HD, which will be streamed live on the tournament website. These games will then be available to watch again through our applications post match, with extended highlights from each day also being available in our brand new Highlights.tv platform, which is accessible through Scout7.tv.
Then next Wednesday, we will start our coverage of the 2015 Toulon Tournament, which features ten national teams: China, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, England, France, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Qatar and the USA.
Although traditionally an U20 tournament, this year’s competition has been organised to assist a number of the participating nations with their preparations for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, which means that players born in 1993 or after will be eligible to take part.
Toulon is one of a number of elite competitions we cover which incorporates match events integrated into the video from every game, supplied by our partners OptaPro. This means that scouts can filter and search for key actions, by player or team, across all the matches being played.
Squads are being announced as we speak, which are all being published in the Intelligent Sports Framework and ProScout7, so if scouts want to log-in and do any pre-tournament research on the players selected, they now have the opportunity to do so.
Later on this summer we will also be supporting a number of other competitions, which include the Tournoi U21 pre-season tournament in July, which takes place in Ploufragan, France, and features elite club teams from that country, as well as Belgium and England. We will also be supporting the FIFPro tournament for disengaged players, which has been expanded this year to mark FIFPro’s 50th anniversary.
By putting tournaments right at the heart of our content operation, we hope that we can provide another dimension to a club’s strategy, to help them be as well informed as possible when they undertake player research. We also want to make it as easy as possible for scouts to submit their reports when they have attended tournaments, which is why we make every effort to publish line-ups where possible and by providing video, they can look back at games they have attended to re-affirm their conclusions.
We are always striving to extend our tournament coverage too, so if you are planning to attend any international or club competition this summer, from U16 upwards, please let me know and we will look at getting it covered! I can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.