Scouts, or Talent identifiers, have long been an integral part of football and increasingly clubs are expanding their scouting networks to identify and recruit talented players at a young age. Broadly speaking the function of a scout is to identify players with whom the club he represents may wish to enter into negotiations with a view to securing their registrations.
They enjoy a unique position, helping to identify talented players who may make it to the top of the game and play regular first class football. However, from a player welfare perspective it is imperative that they deal appropriately with this unique position of power, trust and influence so that they not only safeguard the welfare of the player but also themselves. It has to be acknowledged that most clubs operate to the highest recommended standards in relation to scouting activities.
Child welfare is very much an issue in today’s Irish society and the Government has been actively defining and promoting best practice standards in sport through the offices of the Irish Sports Council. The Football Association of Ireland has also accepted its responsibility in this regard to such an extent that the Board has recently adopted and approved its own Code of Ethics & Good Practice for Children Soccer. As the Governing body for soccer, part of our remit is to legislate for and regulate the activities of all participants in soccer to ensure that best practice standards are maintained.
The Football Association of Ireland, in cooperation with the Schoolboys Football Association of Ireland and the Women’s Football Association of Ireland, has adopted policies and regulations in relation to clubs from outside the Republic of Ireland requesting players for trials or assessments.
The intention of this policy is to ensure that the interests of players going on trial are protected in relation to their education, welfare and safety as well as their club and league commitments.