Sports Initiative Helps Young Players Overcome Birth Month Disadvantage

Simon RoeThe Summer Born Campaign was contacted about this initiative in Surrey, and is happy to share it here.

With thanks to the Late Birthday Project:

Surrey-based sports initiative helping young players overcome the ‘late birthdate’ disadvantage

‘Relative Age Effect’ is a phenomenon in which children born late in their school year or sporting age group are at a disadvantage both from an academic and athletic point of view, and, according to statistics, are generally less successful than their older peers, simply because their birth dates are closer to the cut-off date for their age group.

The effect that birth timing and selection has on sports talent identification is strongly evident in football; research shows that 45% of children in professional football academies are born between September and November, while just 10% are born June to August.

It is this phenomenon that ‘Late Birthday Project’, based at Surrey FA Headquarters, Meadowbank Stadium, is tackling through their unique programme for U6 – U14 age groups.

By only accepting players born January to August* into their professional academy environment, the set-up allows younger players to flourish without the influence of the older and more physically dominant players.

Late Birthday Project offers an innovative curriculum of coaching and games programmes led by UEFA qualified coaches, including sprint and strength training, psychology workshops, nutritional and physio advice and free 1-on-1 coaching, all aimed at giving younger players a fighting chance when it comes to maximising their potential.

With premium 3G pitches, free futsal, free team kit, showcase games, inter-centre league games, cup finals days and holiday camps, LBP have a winning programme that is giving the advantage back to ‘later born’ players.

The LBP academy has a proven track record of combating birthdate bias; dozens of the project’s attendees have since gone on to trials with professional football clubs.

Late Birthday Project delivers success to players at all ability levels however, some players just want to get from their B team to their A team, or get into their school team, or just have fun.

“We get a lot of parents who say their child is not enjoying their football, not being passed to by his teammates, and helping in those cases is often what gives us the most satisfaction.” said Richard King, Academy Director.

Late Birthday Project was founded in 2016 with 30 players at one centre in Dorking, and has quickly grown to 500 players in 10 centres across Surrey and Sussex. Such is the success of the programme LBP are now working on plans to launch franchise opportunities nationwide.

LBP are currently offering trials at all centres; Dorking, Godalming, Walton-on-Thames, Haywards Heath and Crawley.

For more information, or to book a trial:

*Players born September to December can join the Thursday and Saturday Dorking centres but will develop their technical and tactical game by playing a year up at the All-Birthday Sessions.

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