Talent and responsibility: is there a Sachin Tendulkar in your youth team?

Posted by Rowland Jack on 11 octobre 2013

The announcement by Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar that he will retire next month after a remarkable 24 years playing at international level is a reminder of the responsibility that governing bodies and sports clubs bear for nurturing young talent.

Tendulkar was a child prodigy who smashed records at school and became the third youngest in the history of the game to play test cricket. In short, his talent was so outrageous that it stood out for all to see.

It’s not always so simple. There are numerous examples of footballers discarded early because they were too small or didn’t fit in in some way who went on to be successful at other clubs. Across all sport, the transition from dominant junior to successful senior is unpredictable.

As talent-spotting is so uncertain, young athletes are sometimes treated like a commodity to be exploited: an endless production line of boys and girls to be pushed hard, tested and quickly discarded if they don’t make the grade.

In fact, clubs and governing bodies increase their chances of producing a star if they have good procedures in place:

- High standards of coaching

- Responsible adults to take care of minors who may spend a lot of time away from their families

- Proper medical oversight to prevent injuries

- Guidance to keep young athletes away from typical risks which could affect any teenager, but also those specific to sport such as doping and match-fixing

- Equitable selection processes and criteria

Every coach has known young athletes with considerable talent who did not progress for one reason or another. It’s inevitable that some will drop out along the way but here is a thought which could or should keep sports administrators awake at night:

If the next Sachin Tendulkar turns up to play in the youth team, would he or she have the right support to achieve their potential?

Imagine if a talent like that is lost because of poor coaching, bullying or an avoidable injury. An opportunity to transform the club or governing body would be missed, and also the recognition that comes from nurturing a superstar.

I can’t think of a better motivation for good management in a sports organisation.

Talent and responsibility: is there a Sachin Tendulkar in your youth team?

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