Elite youth Gaelic footballers and their holistic development: the academy experience

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Cuthbert, Brian
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University College Cork
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The purpose of this thesis is to provide a holistic analysis of the talent development environment surrounding elite Gaelic Football academies in Ireland. In response to existing literature, which has focused on the cognitive determinants of elite performance, contemporary research has suggested a practical and conceptual shift towards an understanding of the role that psychological, social, and cultural circumstances play in the talent development process. Drawing on a holistic ecological case study approach, six individual county academies and their constituent stakeholders (i.e. academy coaches, club coaches, teachers, parents, elite players, and prospects) participated in the project over a nine-month period. Using a systematic version of grounded theory, findings from this research concluded that there were (a) acute dysfunctional relationships existing between constituent stakeholders within the academy environment, (b) limiting structural and organisational impediments to prospect’s progression and transition to elite football, and (c) a number of negative socio-cultural influences impacting prospects and their positive personal development. This combination of factors suggests that Gaelic football talent development environments struggle to support the holistic development of elite youth prospects. As such, success at adult elite level for individual counties in Gaelic football did not correlate to successful Talent Development Environments (TDEs) at youth level.
Talent development , Sport environments , Youth sport
Cuthbert, B. 2018. Elite youth Gaelic footballers and their holistic development: the academy experience. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.