Youth system

Youth system is a sporting terminology used to refer to a youth investment program within a particular team or league, which develops and nurtures young (often local) talent, with the vision of using them in the first team if they show enough promise, and to fill up squads numbers in some teams with small budgets. In contrast to most sports in the United States where the collegiate system is responsible for developing young sports people, most football clubs take responsibility for developing their own players of the future.

Youth academies

Most youth systems attached exclusively to one club are often called youth academies. In a youth academy a club will sign multiple players at a very young age and teach them vital skills required to play at that club's standard. [ [ BBC Sport Academy | Football | Features | Does United's future still lie in youth? ] ]

Some of the larger clubs in Europe such as Manchester United, AFC Ajax, Sporting, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich are regarded as having some of the finest youth academies in the world and often produce many quality talents from their academies. Other clubs such as West Ham United, while not as financially successful as others, has a world class academy known as The Academy of Football and has produced many talents that have gone on to play with larger clubs in England. [ [ West Ham in the nation's debt for grooming England talent - Football News - Telegraph ] ]

Another example is lower league clubs who have produced higher quality players through the academy and sold them to keep the club running. The main prime example of this is Crewe Alexandra F.C. who under Dario Gradi and his staff nurtured players into higher quality players such as David Platt and Dean Ashton and sold them when the time was right.

An alternative name for a Youth Academy is "Centre of Excellence". In English football these terms have distinct meanings and are licensed and regulated by The Football Association and The Football League. [cite web|url=|title=Programme for Excellence|date=2003-11-06|publisher=The FA|accessdate=2008-06-20]

Youth leagues

While similar to youth academies, youth leagues are built into a club competition rather than an individual club. However, the teams that play in these youth leagues are generally attached to a larger senior club. The purpose of these leagues is to give young players experience in proper competition against other players that they will most likely end up playing with or against. The English Premier League is known for having a large youth league attached to its senior clubs. In the forthcoming season the A-League in Australia will begin its own youth league. [ [,22049,22668500-5001023,00.html Football Federation looks at national youth league | The Daily Telegraph ] ]

Youth leagues aren't just exclusive to association football though. The Australian Football League (AFL) has a youth league established underneath its senior league with no attachment to any senior club. The players that play in this competition are then chosen to play for senior clubs through the AFL Draft. The National Football League (NFL) have a similar system involving their college football competitions.

Drafting system

In a draft, young players are selected by the governing body of a sport and are then chosen by the clubs (or franchises) within the senior league based on either natural talent or what that club needs (be it position fillers, height, speed etc.) The AFL, NFL, NHL, MLB, among others are well renowned for their extraordinary records with young players in drafts.


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