I remember when Rhain Davis signed for Manchester United. A nine-year old ‘whiz kid’ from Brisbane was one of the first viral footballers in 2007. A DVD of the youngster’s showboating skills was sent to Sir Alex Ferguson and soon Davis was training with Man United’s academy. Football scouting has started to go through a revolution and this is where Skouted comes in.
Febien Brandy had a more traditional professional footballer’s journey at the start of his career. Born in Manchester, he made it through fierce competition to earn a regular starting position at Manchester United’s reserves. Now, the experienced striker has co-launched a football scouting mobile app, Skouted, where new Rhain Davis’ have an opportunity to showcase their skills and get scouted by clubs around the world.
The digital revolution has been increasingly topical in the football industry lately. Perhaps lagging behind other entertainment businesses, see music (Spotify) and films (Netflix), the football industry can be classified as conservative. The technological enhancements may be used more than ever on-field, in terms of performance and data analysis. However, the supporting industry has arguably been slow in taking advantages of the technology available.
Recruitment is one of those markets. Needless to say, football scouting involves tremendously much of watching live games, like Melbourne Football Club’s Head of Scouting and Recruitment James Poole puts it in his Industry Insider feature. Especially the biggest clubs are using huge databanks and sophisticated analytics tools, but the pool of players in the most popular sport in the world can over-flood.
Footballers in the biggest clubs may always find a new team if they have managed to build a good network or have an agent. Skouted’s co-founder Brandy did not have the easiest route, but he found a club for himself from Swansea City, Sheffield United, Walsall or Thailand. Released academy players, semi-pros or older players without contract may find seeking a new club frustrating. The Guardian investigated recently that the Coronavirus crisis has forced many English clubs to release their academy players and financially struggling smaller clubs do not have the muscles to sign players. This may leave potential players unnoticed.
Skouted’s aim is to help players without contracts or clubs, ranging from grassroots level to the professional game. Players, clubs and scouts can create a profile in the app, and the app functions as a tool for them to find a perfect match. Skouted urges players to upload video clips of themselves playing which improves their chances to get noticed.
From digital to dollars
I remember hard-working midfielder Owen Hargreaves uploading YouTube videos in 2011, to demonstrate he was fit to play for a new club after being released by Manchester United. Hargreaves’ efforts were noticed but his novel approach was subject to wonder.
Fast forward nine years and social media platforms are full of professional and not so professional athletes posting training videos. Particularly, during lockdown. The market has been exploited as mobile phone cameras reached DSLR-level quality, social media platforms integrated in to our lives and filming stuff became an everyday normality.
The mobilisation is not slowing but it is growing. Covid-19 has increased UK citizens mobile phones consumption by almost 40% in April 2020, according to Statista. The digital industry specialists bore you to sleep, by underlying time after time how important quality content is in the oversubscribed world. However, there is still a shortage of footballers having digital CVs including quality video material of themselves practising or playing.
There are reasons to believe that footballers can get scouted through their digital profiles in the future. Football skills, personality and quality will shine through in football scouting apps, just like on the football pitch.
With a bit of luck too, a football scout will discover a player in the app. Like in any other modern industry, online and offline have to work seamlessly. Video clips are likely not to be enough to earn a signed contract, but a player can get a trial where they can finally prove themselves.
Tope Fadahunsi is one of the players that has succeeded through Skouted. Fadahunsi was released from Watford at the age of 16 and spent years playing in the English non-league football. Fadahunsi’s determination was noticed by a club near the arctic circle. Finnish club Kemi City FC offered a contract to the player and since Fadahunsi has been contacted by Ghana’s and Nigeria’s U-21 teams.
The example not only shows how the global football world can be connected, but also how clubs can gain competitive advantage through differentiation. Brentford FC is a prime example of doing things differently by investing to revolutionary data analytics throughout their club operations. Adjusting to new technologies can save money and time for a club.
In addition to Skouted, there are other football scouting apps, which rely on data-driven approach or digital personal brand building. The common factor is that all of them are combining football recruitment, digital and social approach.
We are experiencing an interesting period in football and hopefully the industry goes through the current pandemic in a healthy way. It is certain that digital will find ways to play bigger role in several areas of football industry.
Connect with Skouted on social media
Instagram – skoutedfootball
LindkedIn – Skouted Football
You can download the Skouted Football app via the links below
By Pauli Loukola, Skouted UK
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