The power of the talent category. A social-relational perspective on the identification and selection of young football players

Christian Meedom Wrang*, Luc Martin, Niels Nygaard Rossing, Sine Agergaard


Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapport/konference proceedingKonferenceabstrakt i proceedingForskningpeer review


Objectives: Football associations in a number of western nations, including Denmark and Germany, are initiating nationwide programs to identify and select talented football boys already at the age of 10-12. The aim of this article is to explore how boys this age experience such early talent identification and selection processes. Methods: Using an ethnographic approach, the first author conducted 1.5 years of fieldwork in a Danish suburban football club from which several boys were selected and even more boys not-selected to an extracurricular nation-wide program. In the club, the first author observed and participated in weekly training practices of all U10/11 boys and also conducted six focus-group interviews with 19 of the boys. Findings and Discussion: The material was analyzed with Richard Jenkins’ perspectives on social identity, and specifically his distinction between external categorization and internal identification. Observations from weekly training practices displayed that level of skills and talent made up a very predominant category through which the coaches grouped the boys, despite the boys tried to relate in a variety of ways e.g. as school mates and friends. Notwithstanding, in the focus group interviews talent and skills also constituted the main reference for the boys’ internal identification of themselves and their peers. Conclusion: The analysis shows that the football system contributes to reduce the variety of grouping options among young boys. If individual boys succeed in negotiating their identities they do so in pointing to specificities in skills and talent that they are the sole owners of.
TitelInternational Society of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise : 1st ECR and Student Conference
Publikationsdato9 apr. 2021
StatusUdgivet - 9 apr. 2021
BegivenhedInternational Society of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise: 1st ECR and Student Conference - Anglia Ruskin University, School of Psychology and Sport Science, Cambridge, Storbritannien
Varighed: 6 apr. 20219 apr. 2021


KonferenceInternational Society of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise
LokationAnglia Ruskin University, School of Psychology and Sport Science