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“We’re quick to bring them in and then quickly write them off”


“You can go into a football club and sit around a table and you’ve got experts in every area of the club with post- graduate and undergraduate qualifi cations and other kinds of formal professional qualifi cations and yet the person responsible for giving them the raw talent to work with has absolutely no qualifi cations at all."


Developing a fi ve-tiered talent identifi cation qualifi cation structure aligned with The FA Coaching pathway is one of Rigg’s wide-ranging objectives in his new role based at St.George’s Park. Qualifi cations will outline codes of conducts, defi ne good and bad practice and, most importantly, ensure a more rigorous and possibly more scientifi c approach to talent identifi cation.


The 45 year old believes the industry has a “responsibility” to make talent identifi cation a more professional process. “Scouting is still very much a subjective process, something kept inside someone’s head. That must change because there’s a real drive for accountability."


Staffi ng numbers involved in player recruitment is signifi cant: from the Sunday morning volunteer scout to the hugely powerful fi gures responsible for multi-million pound transfer strategies such as Manchester City’s sporting director, Txiki Begiristain. Rigg says consistency of professional standards across the industry is the aim.


“Clubs and scouts must be able to answer questions: Why are they looking for a player? How will the player fi t in to a club’s philosophy and playing style? How do you measure that player’s eff ectiveness?”


Measuring player eff ectiveness prompts an interesting discussion. Rigg believes it is crucial that young players should be viewed in terms of what they may become rather than what they are now.


“The England players of 2022 and beyond are the twelve, thirteen and fourteen year olds of today. We have to try and look at the players in those age groups and assess what their potential is, not what their performance is today.”


Making decisions on potential talent is a tricky business. Rigg speaks of the varied paths some of the game’s great players have followed – every tale of an early developer is countered with a story of a player emerging late in the development process. It also raises the question of the number of world class players who may have been lost to the game due to a lack of understanding between talent and potential.


“Potential is watching an U16s striker on a Saturday morning score a hat-trick and you think ‘wow what a player’. But that performance may not be a true indicator of talent.


“A better defi nition of talent may be consistent performance week in week out at the highest level.”


Rigg stresses that he doesn’t have all the answers and is quick to warn of the dangers of one-off decisions made on a snapshot of a player’s performance. Rigg's plan is to bring together experts from across the game to develop a more thorough understanding of the factors which contribute to player development allowing for more informed decisions.


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