Looking back at the 2017 Q&P Symposium

News by Wouter Kuperus

All amateur football clubs that took part in the Q&P program throughout the 2016-2017 season were invited to the annual symposium, which was held on Friday the 6th of October 2017. The symposium was held at the Royal Dutch Football Association’s (KNVB) Campus. A large majority of clubs that took part in the Q&P program attended the symposium and were eager to discuss and exchange best practices with regards to the improvement of their youth academies.

Just like previous years, the KNVB and NMC Bright organised this year’s symposium with keeping the sole purpose of exchanging knowledge in mind. After a brief opening, a first presentation was given by Caspar Dekker, Head Academy at FC Groningen, about the club’s vision on their academy. FC Groningen has a system in place that focuses on three main aspects; developing as a person, living like an athlete and perform like a pro.

Talent factory
Subsequently there were four workshops in which AVV Zeeburgia, FC ‘s-Gravenzande, SV Orion and FC Utrecht delivered a variety of (interactive) presentations and cases. Zeeburgia’s president, Marianne van Leeuwen, talked about the occasionally bumpy road the club’s been on since her appointment and where this road took them. Her most important message: ‘make it absolutely clear who you are as a club and what it is you want to do for your members. Also make it perfectly clear who you do not want to be. This helps when there are difficult choices to be made’. This is how Zeeburgia has been able to profile themselves as a true talent development factory which has proven to be a very successful strategy for them.

There are few clubs who have been able to professionalise as fast as FC ’s-Gravenzande over the past years. With the appointment of a fulltime technical director, commercial manager and club manager the club has shown impressive progress. Technical director Ron van Meerten, talked about the organization behind, and the identity of his club. Representatives from other clubs were impressed by how the club operates on a daily basis.

Learning principles youth players
SV Orion made great progress in the way they deal with youth players. The club highlighted an exercise that was created by board member Quincy Elvira and Head Academy Maarten van Helvoirt in cooperation with the technical commission. The exercise focused on highlighting the different types of learning principles employed by coaches when dealing with players. What do we expect from coaches in talking to youth players? Which pedagogical and didactical principles do we want them to use?

For the first time, one of the workshops during this year’s Q&P symposium was held by a paid/professional football club. Although Paul Voois, Assistant Head Academy at FC Utrecht, has plenty of experience in amateur football. He combines his function at FC Utrecht with being employed as Head Academy at amateur football club HC&FC Victoria 1893. His workshop was predominantly focused around the younger age categories. How do you educate children within this age category? How do you organize a progress interview for an 8-year-old? The clubs present at the symposium used this workshop as a basis for discussion, the exchange of knowledge and how to translate these outcomes to their own youth academy. A very interesting topic for a lot of clubs…

Academy Certificate
All clubs that were present at this year’s symposium took part in the Q&P program which means they got awarded an academy certificate/status. An academy certificate can be awarded by taking part in the Q&P Program that was created by the KNVB in cooperation with NMC Bright. Over 85 amateur football clubs and all Dutch professional football clubs participated in the program since it started.

All guests present at the symposium were very satisfied. Football clubs, the KNVB and NMC Bright consider the get-together and exchange of knowledge between football clubs to be very important. The goal is to structurally improve and develop youth academies throughout the country. This can be realised by thoroughly analysing the club’s academy and highlighting chances for development/improvement. The assessment is executed by specialist youth coordinators and experts from both within, as well as outside the field of football. The ultimate goal of the program is to help clubs develop a sound program, which then develops the entire football landscape.