Recently Swedish national newspaper Dagens Nyheter published a series of articles on the development of football at grassroots level in Sweden.
“It is impossible to predict who will become an elite footballer” says Thomas Westerberg who has written the highly recommended book “Talangutveckling eller Spelarutveckling”(Talent development or Player development).Players such as Henrik Larsson,Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Johan Mjällby were never selected for the Swedish Football Associations elite youth training camps for 15 year olds .They werent even selected for their district representation team.
“The elite selection process is not a good indicator as to who can become a fulltime professional footballer”says Westerberg.One reason being the influence of both physical and mental development.” Far too often talent is mixed up with early physical development,kids that develop earlier naturally perform better than those who develop later.This is all of little consequence and meaning in releation to who will be performing best as an adult.
Today Westerberg is the development officer at Swedish Premier League club IFK Norköpping where he works against the early elite selection process.Westerbergs aim is to create a safe and positive enviroment that will stimulate many to play football,focus on performance instead of results and let players develop at their own pace.
” I believe that everyone can find their own football path.It is important that the young player realises that it is never over or too late.Players develop at different tempos and they should never be stressed” says Thomas Westerberg.