Start off as you hope to continue is an often used and sometimes abused adage. Until very recently performance analysis, using video, in soccer was only used at the professional level and in the professional academies, writes Pete Kelly.

In Ireland the first exposure young players would get to this methodology would have been at youth level and even then it would have been patchy. However the FAI have taken a huge leap forwards recently when they signed a partnership agreement with Avenir Sports for the provision of a suite of software products to establish Performance Analysis as an integral part of the emerging talents centres throughout the country.

Avenir Sports have been supporting Giovanni Trappatoni’s senior squad for several seasons with software provision, analytical training and professional services at tournaments.

The future generations of Irish internationals at all levels are nurtured in the emerging talent centres. It is the departure point on the great conveyor belt that leads to international recognition. Past accusations about “objective” talent recognition can be a thing of the past – as trial games, training/coaching sessions and friendly matches can now be filmed and properly analysed. Additionally, archives can be built up and promising players progress can be charted and objectively assessed.

The Football Association of Ireland are very aware of changing trends and the need to up-skill their coaching staff and develop their coaching materials to stay current with the best there is. The appointment of Ruud Dokter as High Performance Director is a statement of intent. Another indication of the FAI’s commitment to continuous improvement is decision to in include video footage of the various drills and small side games as part of the Kickstart 1 & 2 basic coaching awards.

Avenir Sports have been working with the FAI recently developing the video material for the new Kickstart programmes, see a sneak preview in the previous article in this series. The advent of video content for the Kickstart programmes and the imminent availability of the analytical technology to the emerging talents centres is seen by the FAI coach staff as a real step forward.

Nigel Keady is Head Coach and coordinator of the FAI Regional Emerging Talent Centre for players U15 to U17 (boys) and Galway League Centre for players aged U12 to U14 (boys) and U12 to U16 (girls) and he sees the collaboration between the FAI and Avenir Sports as a major leap forward. Nigel is seen here speaking to Avenir Sports.