Anthropometric profile and physical performance of youth players and challenges in the Ethiopian football talent identification program.
Gebreegziabher, Eyasu Merhatsidk.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the existing challenges that hinder the implementation of the talent identification program. Understand and develop basic standards to recruit talented young players based on their anthropometric and physical quality also the purpose of this study. Other purpose of the study was formulated and implement effective strategies for the coaching program. The study employed a cross-sectional study design. A homogenous group of 240 male Ethiopian football players (Age 15.6 ± 1.8 years) from 12 teams participated in this study. Sixty-one football coaches and 61 sport administrators also participated. Anthropometric assessment, speed, power, agility, endurance and flexibility tests were conducted. The data was analysed using descriptive and inferential analysis techniques. The mean and the standard deviation of results across an anthropometric profile for all players are as follows: body mass weight was 55.47kg (6.14), standing height was 1.7m (0.06), body mass index was 19.12kg/m2 (1.99), sub-scapular skinfold was 6.88mm (1.37), triceps skinfold was 5.95mm (1.51), BF(Body Fat) % was 15.53% (2.91) and LBM(Lean Body Mass) was 46.82kg (5.11). Significant weight and height differences (p≤0.05) were found between club and academy players, but not in BMI, % BF and Lean Body Mass (LBM). club players had significantly greater body mass than EFF and academy players (p≤0.05). For standing height, club and EFF players were significantly taller than players in the academy teams (p≤0.05). The mean and the standard deviation of overall fitness values for all players were as follows: 10m speed was 2.15sec (0.19), 20m speed was 3.51sec (0.29), 40m speed was 5.16sec (0.31), sit and reach flexibility was 12.94cm (7.86), vertical jump power test was 42.93cm (6.58), Illinois agility test was 17.45cm (0.83) and V̇O2 max 49.74ml/kg/min (5.42). Mean values per setting from club, academy and EFF, respectively were: 10m speed 2.08sec, 2.26s and 2.14sec (p≤0.0001); 20m speed 3.4sec, 3.7sec and 3.49sec (p≤0.0001); 40m speed 5.87sec, 5.9sec, 6.07sec (p≤0.0001). Flexibility was 11.96cm, 11.31cm and 14.96cm (p≤0.05). Club’s youth players were taller, heavier, faster and more flexible than academy and Ethiopian football federation players. Significant differences were found in age groups: 10m speed between U-14 and U-15 (p≤0.01) and U-14 and U-17 (p≤0.05), In 20m speed between U-14 group and U-16 (p≤0.01) and U-14 and U-17 (p≤0.01). Significant iv differences were also found in 40m speed between U-14 and U-15 (p≤0.05). Older age players were faster than younger ones. Anthropometrical profiles and physical performance tests may assist to identify the talented players in the country. Significant differences found per climatic altitudes and geographical locations were as follows: high altitude players’ significantly greater body mass than low altitude players (p≤0.05). Low altitude players significantly better BMI than high altitude players (p≤0.0001). For LBM, high altitude players significantly greater results than low and moderate altitude players (p≤0.005). The moderate altitude group of players performed better results than the low and high-altitudes group of players. Eastern and northern players were significantly heavier than southern and western players. Compared to southern players, Eastern and northern players were significantly taller than southern and western players. Although players from eastern, performed better in the 10m speed test than western players. Regarding the 20m speed test, eastern players performed better results than the rest three altitudes groups. A correlation matrix comparing anthropometry and physical performance indicated that: BMI was negatively related with 10m sprint (r = 0.134), 40m sprint (r = 0.232), vertical jump (r = 0.108) and agility (r = 0.123). Height was negatively related to performance in the 20m sprint (r = 0.141), 40m sprint (r = 0.201) and agility (r = 0.255). Quantitative questionnaire data related to the practice of talent identification programs in Ethiopia showed that: Most of the players (62%) have information and knowledge about a talent identification program. Most players (74%) have also experienced or passed through a talent identification program. The same was true of most players (74%) being of the opinion that they were exposed to a proper training program. Player’s knowledge and experiences; with respect to rest, water, materials and playing fields; family and coach support and test batteries found statistically significant differences (p≤0.0001) between club, academy and Ethiopian football federation settings. For the questionnaires about knowledge and experiences of coaches in the talent identification program, no statistically significant differences were found among club, academy or Ethiopian football federation settings, whereas significant differences were found with respect to experiences on upgrading of coaching knowledge related to talent v identification, in academy and Ethiopian football federation (p≤0.05) TIP (Talent Identification Program) settings. For the questionnaires related to problems and solutions of talent identification program, statistically significant differences in opinion were found among club, academy and Ethiopian football federation settings, but opinions about incorporation of talent identification programs in training courses were not significantly different. In terms of setting up programs to evaluate the level of performances of the players, not all settings were in the affirmative. For the implementation or application of talent identification programs, statistically significant differences in opinion were found across club, academy and Ethiopian football federation (p≤0.0001) settings. However, no differences were found fin terms of using a manual to identify player’s talent. For the questions about availability of materials and equipment for the TIP (Talent Identification Program) statistically significant differences in opinion were found among coaches in clubs and the Ethiopian football federation, while only those in the Ethiopian football federation TIP felt that testing materials are appropriate. For all questionnaires about administrators’ knowledge and experiences of talent identification, statistically significant differences were found in all groups. Questions on knowledge about TIP and facilitating refreshment courses for the coaches on talent identification were not statistically difference. For the questions about problems and solutions for the talent identification program, opinions varied statistically whereas opinions regarding their team’s conducting talent identification program and motivation of the players were similar. For the questionnaires about implementation responsibility of talent identification programs, statistically significant differences were found among the club, academy and Ethiopian football federation settings. For the questionnaires about manpower and materials for the talent identification program, statistically significant opinions were found among all the club, academy and Ethiopian football federation TID settings. For open-ended questions, all responses were investigated by using the detective qualitative data computer software package (NVIVO). The themes identified focussed on problems, solutions and suggestions for the operation of the Ethiopian football talent identification program. Under the three themes, focus nodes were identified as being the vi system, knowledge and experience, hard-work, training, monitoring and support, manpower, while facilities and equipment were also mentioned. The football talent identification program in Ethiopia is not an optimally functioning system. The improvement of the system is the first essential element for the talent identification program. This research has shown the need for a new systematic structure to be established for the talent identification program. Scarcity of knowledge and experience, also affects the talent identification program. Education and training were offered as keys to a solution.