Navigate your way to any football club or federation website in New Zealand and you cannot help but come across something pertaining to the latest and greatest player “pathway”.
Whether it be the “TDP”, “academy +”, “player pathway” or any other iteration thereof marketed to catch the eye of the unsuspecting parent or player, all these offerings assert the same thing. That the only way to reach footballing glory and success is via said “pathway”. Fall off the pathway to your peril. Once off the conveyor belt, the production line of success, you are on a one-way road to oblivion. Stay on the pathway however, and your chances of “making it” are increased exponentially.
Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth. A one size fits all, linear A to B approach to the development of our young players is disingenuous and misleading at best. When it comes to young player development and longevity, the only “path” I want to see them stay on is the footpath. It is time therefore for a different, alternative approach, a new language when discussing the development of our young players.
At Top Flight Football Academy we view each player through the lens of their own individual and unique journey. Each player that joins our growing family brings with them their own unique set of circumstances, backgrounds, values and constraints. To assert that this kaleidoscope of potential must all squeeze into the same development pipeline, following the same linear steps along the yellow brick road to success is simply not credible, nor possible.
Instead, we will continue to celebrate, support, and encourage the individual journeys of each of our young players as they navigate the social, cultural, physical, and psychological constraints that define their own unique experience. We will continue to remind them that the real joy in life, and football, is to be found in the journey, not the destination. Because, at the end of the day, we all arrive, in our own time, on our own terms, at our station of choice.
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