The influence of date and place of birth on youth player selection to a National Football Association elite development programme

Laura Finnegan, David Richardson, Martin Littlewood, Jean McArdle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aim: This study sought to examine whether the place and date of birth of elite youth Irish footballers influences their selection onto the Football Association of Ireland's primary development pathway; 12 regional centres of excellences called the “Emerging Talent Programme” (ETP). The proposed hypothesis was that players born earlier in the year would be over-represented compared to those born later in their age band. A secondary hypothesis was that access to the ETP would be independent of place of birth. Methods: The dates and place of birth of all elite youth footballers (n = 1936) selected onto the ETP since its inception were examined. χ2 tests were used to establish if the dates of birth differed from the expected population distribution. Odds ratios were used to identify spatial variation in relation to place of birth and talent production. Results: The results showed that admission to the ETP is not independent of quarter of birth (P.05, χ2 = 256.817, w =.388). Place of birth analysis showed an unequal geographical distribution of players gaining selection onto the ETP. Selection onto the ETP was not independent of place of birth (P <.05, χ2 = 149.457, w =.278). Footballers developed in counties that had an ETP centre were almost 50% more likely to gain selection than those without a centre (OR 1.455, 95% CI 1.314 -1.612). Conclusion: The current programme demonstrates inequitable distribution of opportunities to access elite development pathways due to biases related to date and place of birth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-39
Number of pages10
JournalScience and Medicine in Football
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 02 Jan 2017

Keywords

  • football
  • place of birth
  • relative age effect
  • talent development
  • Talent identification

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