Let the Kids Play: Amiens Aim for Sustainability through Academy

Without the big budget of the teams above them, Ligue 1 newcomers Amiens believe their best shot of staying in the big time is developing their own homegrown players. Video is proving central to Amiens’ brand-new academy project.

In 2017, eight of the top 25 clubs who produced the most homegrown players in Europe came from France. Mid-table teams like Toulouse, Rennes and Nantes are just as prolific as the likes of Chelsea and Bayern Munich in converting youth into first-team stars.

These are the clubs Amiens seek to emulate, and academy coach John Devignon was quick to highlight that video is a key component in his club’s new strategic direction.

“We understood that moving up to Ligue 1 was a turning point, and with our new academy project we are really refocusing on player information. So video meets perfectly with this objective,” Devignon said.

“We want to refocus our training on the individual development of players and so our goal is to better observe each other to understand our performance.”

Amiens video analyst Ludovic Ancher—who is behind the technical aspects of the academy—gives his insight on how he approaches his analysis with youth players.

“I focus on the major themes of the game: playmaking, defending, and positioning,” Ancher said.

“For this, I code live during training with Sportscode using specific code windows focused on each aspect of the game. For example, the number of blocks a defender makes, or how many passes a midfielder plays in each direction.

“This way the idea is to focus on each position to personalise our analysis, so that every player feels more involved.”

Ancher is pleased by how fast the young players at Amiens have been picking up the new technology and are buying into the idea of self-learning.

“After training, we group players positionally and ask them to produce a playlist of clips relevant to their role on the pitch,” Ancher said.

“Initially the players were not so selective about their clip selection, simply seeing it as another part of training, but as time went by we saw boys focus on the demands of the coach and the clips became more relevant.

“Professionally we are changing the player’s outlook.”

After just one year, the academy is already reaping rewards. 18-year-old midfielder Gaoussou Traore is the first graduate to feature in the first team, earning a place in the starting lineup for the season opener against Ligue 1 powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais.

Academy analyst Matthieu Godefroy knows video is pushing his project in the right direction.

“My first job with the academy was to define what we would do and how were we going to do it,” said Godefroy.

“We decided a key component to our goal of youth development is to use video media, to enable a quicker and more visual learning of principles of the game project. To have players not only integrate the theoretical aspect of the game, but also to understand its practical implementation on the field.

“We are in a training centre. The end goal is to create professional players. At first they hesitate a little, but this is a video generation and they consume videos day-to-day on social media, on YouTube, in their personal lives already.

“Here they become the actors.”

To learn more about how Hudl uses analytics to fuel the modern game, you can sign up to one of our online classes or check out our professional football case studies from Germany's SC Paderborn 07 and La Liga club Deportivo Alaves.