Swedish club AIK is based in Solna Stockholm and is one of Scandinavias biggest football clubs. This week AIK released a public statement with regard to immediate changes that will effect how the future of child-youth football will be structured in AIK.
Below is am English translation of the statement: (Swedish version can be read here)
The debate around a healthy childhood and youth sport has been going on for some time and continues to engage many people with different backgrounds and objectives. Criticism (aimed at football clubs with academies) is often grounded in the children’s rights perspective with reference to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the documents by the National Governing Body for Sports (riksidrottsförbundet) and the Swedish FA (SvFF) book ‘Spela. Lek och Lär’ (Play the game, Play and Learn).
Based on this background, AIK appointed a working group as well as a reference group (including technical directors in Ice hockey and Floorball, Bayern Munich scout, researchers in child-youth sport and local politicians) to review the activities of children from eight to twelve years of age and the consequences it has for the rest of the club.
The purpose of this review was to determine if it is possible to organise the AIK youth football in a way that is even more consistent with the above mentioned governing documents and implement them in child and youth sport in a better way than how it is done today. The purpose is that these ideals should exist in harmony with our mission the education and development of tomorrow’s players and leaders for our own representation teams (Senior teams both men and women).
The club’s definitive goals, and specifically with this project are as follows:
-We want all children in AIK to feel good.
– Increase the development and promotion of players to our own senior teams as well as increase the number of players in the U16-U19 and F16-F19.
-We also want to follow the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and relevant control documents in Swedish child-youth sport. In other words, encouraging children and young people in AIK to develop an interest in sports in general and in particular, and to keep them playing football in AIK for as long as possible and to continue playing sport as much as possible through life.
Vision: To be the leading club in Scandinavia no matter how you measure it .(Player development, participation, leader development and coach development)
Based on this review (conducted in 2016 and early 2017) a decision was made for a change of focus on the activities in child-youth football 8-12 years in AIK. The club will delay its academy selection until the age of 13. There will be no selection process in this age group. Instead training groups will be formed with increased support from AIK through a deliberate investment in resources to support the coaches working within this age group.