Welcome. At time of writing we have just suffered another atrocity here in the UK with the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester my thoughts and condolences to all involved and I pray that sooner rather than later that the true people of this earth can overcome these lunatics through love and peace. That football can remain a key element in bringing people together in sport and competition and friendship around the world. I have had the privilege of meeting and forming friendships with people from many nations, cultures and all religions which would never have happened if not for football.
My key topic for this column is AGENTS and I do not mean 007 or MI5, but agents in the game particularly those that are trying to or have infiltrated the women’s and girls game and non-league football. Bear in mind that asides from the odd handful of teams there is a historical reality of lack of funding and loss making situations. Very few clubs are sustainable at best and having net losses at the season end is normal.
Yet here we have the chancers, somewhat unscrupulous characters latching on to young players and filling their heads with dreams of stardom and basically taking a controlling interest in their career and lives. Do not misunderstand me I have friends who act as advisors and representatives, but they are genuine folk, trying to help players identify the right choice. Whilst not trying to take money from the player’s pocket.
Also have the brains to recognise where the player can develop by actually playing as a starting player not bouncing up and down on the bench getting splinters in your backside. I know it has been spoken about a million times in the men’s game, but it is even more important in the women’s game. Be at a club where you know you have a high percentage of starts and playing time and coached to a good level.
Young players and their parents have to take more responsibility and not rely on external influences to make decisions for them. Play where your heart is / or could be if you establish yourself in the squad. develop as a player and a person then maybe one of the big clubs will want you on board for the right reasons.
A friend tells me this is happening in men’s non-league football also, Well I would not entertain anyone who tells me to:” Speak to my agent “at that level, meaning under the conference. Again, I stress I have very good friends in the game acting as agents etc, but they are not there to exploit the youngsters.
I am actually quite distraught at all of the above, it is a combination of naivety, exploitation and pure lack of developmental understanding for the sake of a bit of pocket change or materialistic things which can only be short term.
The actual passion and love of the game has become secondary for these youngsters and they are being manipulated and brainwashed with false hope and promises. At least in the pro men’s game it is widely understood that a miniscule number of players can make it to a high earning level.
The thing that was always refreshing about girls playing was that they were doing it because they loved playing football first and foremost, as many of us did when we were kids. Now we have created a small group of players that are earning a reasonable salary and fully deserved, but the imbalance caused is affecting everything underneath. Thus, the vultures are circling ready to pounce on the scraps for anything they can get at the expense of the player’s best interests as an actual player not a commodity.
All I would ask is remember reality, if you are acting as a representative understand that and where you are in the scheme of things and do what you do because you actually care about your client not about making a tenner. Respect the clubs and the coaches that are trying to do their best and survive in a difficult climate but can give the players a platform to grow and gain vital experience. The secondary plus to that is the possibility that the club is in turn successful and can move up the ladder to where the player wants to be.