The very very very low odds of making it big in soccer

Now that the fall soccer season is over it’s time for some of us ‘crazy’ soccer parents to take a step back and reflect.

Here’s a simple fact: no youngsters you know in youth soccer nor anyone you have ever watched or shared a tournament with all these years will make it to the top. This is a statistical certainty.

Here’s a full list of Arsenal youth academy youngsters over the last 15+ years and where they ended up:

Too much data for me to summarize here. You might want to take a few moments to browse around on that site.

Very sobering I think. Arsenal’s youth academy is highly rated, even amongst the elite clubs in the world.

Also keep in mind that very few of the Barca La Masia youth academy youngsters make it big in the end.

For some of you this is probably obvious already and you’re encouraging your son or daughter to participate in youth soccer for the right reasons.

But there are too many delusional parents out there that are behaving in ways that simply doesn’t make sense.

If you think you might be one of them please take a moment to take a deep breath and reflect on what truly is important for your son or daughter learning and playing this beautiful game.

We can debate what is considered ‘making it to the top’ of course. For example, it might be getting a soccer college scholarship which is quite a bit removed from the elite pro clubs, of course. But even soccer scholarships are not easy.

Keep a healthy perspective and make sure you focus on what’s truly important. Enjoy your time together with your children and make sure they enjoy the beautiful game…for a lifetime.

Author: James

Lifelong player and student of the beautiful game in Germany, England, and USA. Volunteer futsal coach and USSF referee.

One thought on “The very very very low odds of making it big in soccer”

  1. Ill summarize the Arsenal stats:
    2013: 3 players with a total of 6 appearances
    2012: 1 player with 9 appearances
    2011: 1 player with 29 appearances, 1 player with 19
    2010: 1 player with 2 appearances
    2009: 1 player with 14, 5 others with a total of 8 appearances
    2008: 1 with 155, 1 with 16
    2007: 7 players with a total of 30 appearances
    2006: 1 with 178, 1 with 181, 6 others with a total of 61 appearances
    2005: 1 with 3
    2004: 1 with 157, 4 others with a total of 10
    2003: 1 with 144, 1 with 303, 1 with 12
    2002: 1 with 23
    2001: 1 with 68, 1 with 12
    2000: 1 with 9

    So over 14 years, there were 13 players with 10 or more appearances. Or 1 a year on average. Not great odds to be sure…


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