Sydney FC: Video Vital to the Blueprint of Academy Success
The academy of Sydney FC continues to produce talent that’s helped the side to a joint-record three A-League championships over its history. Learn how video analysis is vital to the process of sourcing and developing Sydney’s future stars.
Sydney FC’s academy is renowned across the league as one of only three “Two Star” football academies in Australia, a title that represents the best practices in youth development.
Their priorities are feedback, individual responsibility and growth mindset, all of which are underpinned by Sydney’s emphasis on video analysis in youth development.
Academy graduates include recent Socceroo caps Rhyan Grant and Matthew Jurman, and Sydney FC head of football analysis Justin McMahon, who can speak to the positive effect of video analysis on today’s emerging talent.
“As video becomes more and more readily available to all ages and levels, we’re seeing athletes develop who have a real pronounced interest in seeing video of themselves, seeing their level of performance, and getting advice as well,” said McMahon.
“Being in a world now where it’s very easy to provide instantaneous feedback, video allows players to know where their performance is at, and where they can improve, in ways they never could have previously.”
PART TWO: How Sydney FC bring video, data and communications together into a single platform, here.
In the past, analysts would struggle to provide feedback and data to the academy in addition to their first team workload. But improved technology means there’s access to analysis at every level of Sydney FC.
“As a full-time football staff, most of our focus is on the first team, but we have seen over the past couple of years that the technology has gotten better on Hudl platforms, and the workflows are really efficient in terms of being able to produce content for the players within our system that we don’t necessarily have day-to-day access to,” said McMahon.
“It’s very efficient for players to be able to view things that we have put together, which means that despite the fact we are full-time with the first team, we’re still able to produce content for our under 13’s and under 14’s and so on.”
A recent beneficiary of the Sydney academy is 20-year-old Cameron Devlin. The midfielder made his senior debut in 2018 and credits video analysis as crucial to his graduation to the first team.
“We use video analysis at this club every single day,” said Devlin. “As a team, the coaching and analysis staff use Hudl to cut clips of opposition and cut clips of ourselves, just to improve little parts of our game that end up being the cutting point between winning a game and losing a game.
“A big part of your game is what you do on the pitch, but as soon as you get off the pitch, looking to improve is a big thing.”
Manager Steve Corica has seen how video analysis has changed the game in recent years.
As a foundation player from Sydney FC’s inaugural season in 2005, Corica made more than 100 appearances for Sydney, and is well placed to make the comparison between then and now.
“Video analysis has impacted the game in a big way, especially from when I was a player, when we used to just watch full length games and you couldn’t get down to the nitty-gritty of the tactical side of things,” said Corica.
“These days you have every action on Hudl.”
Having seen success as a multiple Grand Final winner with Sydney FC, Corica gives his guidance on the value of video analysis for any club that wants to develop young players and be successful at the same time.
“Advice I would give to players, coaches and directors, would be that video is a vital part of the game going forward, especially at a young age, where players can learn an awful lot from seeing their individual actions with or without the ball,” said Corica.
“Clubs these days are trying to improve each season by bringing in bringing in better players. We want to develop our better players from the academy.”
As general manager of football operations, Terry McFlynn is involved in the inner workings of the club. He believes video is important in a commercial sense, too.
The A-League operates with a salary cap and concessions for homegrown players, meaning it’s extremely valuable to produce academy graduates who are first team ready.
“It’s really important for us to create our own pathway and our own future at Sydney FC,” said McFlynn.
“The academy is an integral part of our business. With the salary cap you have to create your own players and create your own future.”
Before developing young players, first they need to be identified. McFlynn goes on to explain how Hudl helps this process.
“For us, the ability to use video footage for development and talent identification is very important. It’s something we can use as a bank of knowledge for which we can identify the players with the key competencies that we look for in each specific position,” said McFlynn.
“We use video analysis to develop and recognise young players day-to-day at the club. It’s a very important tool in the initial phase of bringing a player to the club. We can use this as a development strategy moving forward while the players are here.”
McFlynn and his management team use Hudl to view footage from leagues around the world and are quick to outline its role in developing youth skill levels as a wider commercial objective for the club.
“For us, the ability for us to look at leagues across the world is so important for the development of our young players in the academy,” said McFlynn.
“That’s where our players will eventually want to end up, and as a business for us as a football club, the ability to monetize our talent is something that is very important to us.
“The faster we can accelerate that process, we feel it’s an important part of the development being able to benchmark ourselves across some of the best youth academies in the world.”
Part two of our Sydney FC series is here.