We’re not colour blind, so ‘They are different colours’ is definitely the wrong answer.
Well, the answer is that the balls are both size 5, but their weights differ. Don’t believe us? Here you go…
This is an interesting innovation followed at ‘De Toekomst‘ (‘The Future’ in Dutch), which is the name of AFC Ajax‘s Youth Academy, where all children, from the age of 7 up, who train at the Academy are made to use the same size 5 balls. The only difference the kids experience as they get older is in the weight of the ball.
There are two reasons why the Ajax Youth Academy trains with these balls:
- Minimises the need for players to continuously adapt their movements to a new size of football as they grow up
- A younger player’s smaller foot enables him/her to get under a full size football and play a better lofted pass or cross when their strength has not yet developed fully
Famed for producing outstanding talents such as Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp, Wesley Sneijder, and Clarence Seedorf over the years, the Ajax Youth Academy is widely acknowledged as one of the best schools for developing world-class footballers. So while opinions may be divided on the use of this practice (same size, different weight), it’s important to consider that there is considerable pedigree backing the implementation of this innovation.
This is how the size 5 football weights vary through the age groups:
- 7 to 9 years: 290-300 gms
- 10 to 12 years: 350-370 gms
- 13 to 14 years: 400-425 gms
- Above 14 years: 450 gms
In India, as with most other countries, children usually start training with smaller-sized footballs and gradually move up to bigger sizes as they get older. However, this interesting practice followed by the Ajax Youth Academy definitely offers academies and coaches in India, and across the world, some food for thought.
What do you think works best for youth player development? Your opinions are valuable.