Reviews in Professional Football

News by Nick Veenbrink

The Review is one of two main parts from the Quality & Performance Program. Goal of the Review is to focus specifically on development and improvement of the talent academy.

Throughout the past six months Reviews took place at the Dutch professional football clubs VVV-Venlo, FC Volendam, NAC Breda, Fortuna Sittard and FC Utrecht; one by one successful and inspiring sessions.

The Review is meant to offer clubs a moment of self-reflection and take a step back from today’s thinking. In most cases the Review is spread out over a course of two days in which a variety of topics are discussed. “The program for the Review is carefully put together in close cooperation with the club. From there, we take care of bringing in the right kind of expertise that fits with the topics to be discussed. The club receives feedback and is given advise in relation to their long-term goals, while attention is also paid to the club’s current context. This provides them with a clear understanding of how to move forward”, says Nick Veenbrink, a NMC Bright consultant.

To provide you with a better understanding of how a Review is organised we’ll take a closer look at the recent session at NAC Breda. A couple of months prior to a Review session we’ll visit the club to decide upon the topics to be discussed and which external team of experts to bring in.

In the case of NAC Breda, the external Review commission consisted of Teun Jacobs (Manager Football Development, Royal Netherlands Football Association), Max Huiberts (Technical Director, AZ), Koen Daerden (Technical Director Academy, KRC Genk) and Nick Veenbrink (NMC Bright). NAC Breda, the internal review commission, was represented by Eric Hellemons (Head of Academy) and Tim Gilissen (Academy Manager). Throughout the course of the two-day program a variety of other NAC Breda employees were asked to join, including youth coaches, head of scouting or board members.

The experts seemed to be impressed by the amount of progress that has been made by NAC Breda. “Over the past four years I have seen a substantial growth of the NAC Academy. I think NAC Breda is ready to take the next step. Essential, however, is that from a management level, based on NAC Breda’s own DNA, continuity is given with regards to developing youth players. The eventual goal is the constant delivery of first team players”, as mentioned by Royal Netherlands Football Association’s Manager of Football Development, Teun Jacobs.

The Review is successful when the outcomes of this session can be translated into concrete ideas and improvement plans for the club’s future goals. “We received great feedback and have been given some important tools that empower us to further improve our academy”, says Tim Gilissen, Academy Manager at NAC Breda. “Now it is up to us to take it to the next level. We strive to build a new trainings ground, keep ahold of our talents and develop an even better program which helps us to create value in our first team by having players who went through our own academy”.


Picture: Peter Diepstraten