Making it in football: Tips from an Italian scout

Is playing football in Europe a big goal in your life? ⚽🥅 We asked a professional scout to answer your questions about playing on a team in Italy.

Guido Boldoni has watched several players he scouted rise through the ranks to begin playing football professionally. Most recently, he scouted new talent for Afro-Napoli United during the 2017-2018 season.

Check out what he has to say 👇

"Usually if a player is interesting he begins right after the first tryout. Usually the one which aren’t convincing aren’t given a second chance. It’s all about exposing yourself well, for our team. Usually about 1 out of every 25 players is good enough to play with us."

🤔Refugee.Info: Where do you scout for talent mostly? How does your team decide where and when to look for talent?
Guido Boldoni: I’ve been able to develop an important position for myself, and often it’s the players that will give me suggestions on where to look. Often I’m in contact with reception centers and operators from those centers will let me know they have someone I should come take a look at. At the same time, I have a bunch of players who get in touch with me and ask me to see them on their own, but more often than not, these players aren’t very good.

🤔RI: Do you take applications or hold tryout days?
GB: During the summer we organize around 10 tryouts, or “open days,” and by now I’ve been set up well enough that I can make a judgement on a player in a few minutes. It now takes very little to understand whether a player has interesting potential or not.

🤔RI: What happens after you notice a player during a scouting mission? GB: Usually if a player is interesting he begins right after the first tryout. Usually the one which aren’t convincing aren’t given a second chance. It’s all about exposing yourself well, for our team. Usually about 1 out of every 25 players is good enough to play with us.

🤔RI: What athletic background do players need to play for the league?
GB: I’m aware that it's a dream for many in Africa to be able to play football, but in my experience (I’ve seen over 300 aspiring young migrant footballers) it needs to be clear that football is complex and living off of football is very difficult. You have to be extremely good to pursue this career.

🤔RI: Do you recruit minors into this team?
GB: We recruit minors, but wait until they are adults to allow them to play.

Documents

🤔RI: What kind of documents and paperwork do you need to play in your league?
GB: If the player is an adult, he’ll need a valid permesso di soggiorno and a certificate of accoglienza (RI note: proof you are living somewhere or a dichiarazione di ospitalità). If the player is a minor, he’ll need the same documents, but also those of the parents, and the parents’ work contracts. For migrants, playing as a minor is very complicated.

🤔RI: If a player doesn’t have documents yet, or has only a permesso per attesa richiesta asilo or permesso per attesa esito ricorso, can they register or play for the league?
GB: Unfortunately, without documents, a player can only train. Playing in an official game or championship is explicitly forbidden without documents.  

🤔RI: Do players in this league need to sign a contract? Are there other agreements and guidelines the players need to adhere to in order to play?
GB: If a player has all his documents in order, he’ll need to sign a membership agreement (in the amateur leagues) which is valid for a year.

🤔RI: What are the paperwork or agreement requirements in higher leagues?
GB: In the professional leagues it depends on what kind of procedure the player has gone through. Currently, if a migrant is interested in the professional leagues he or she must have done at least 2 years in an amateur league.

If, alternatively, the player has come from his or her country of origin through a direct recruitment, it depends on the player's age, and which contracts he or she had there. Generally, professional leagues prefer recruiting from football clubs.

"Currently, if a migrant is interested in the professional leagues he or she must have done at least 2 years in an amateur league."

Making a living

🤔RI: What does the professional life of a footballer look like in this league?
GB: We train from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday we have games. Players need to follow athletes’ diets, like professionals. The season begins in August and lasts for 10 months. Training is part athletic and part tactical, the same as it in professional football. Players have about a month and a half of vacation days. Players obviously need to travel, but the team pays for it.

🤔RI: Do players in your league need to pay subscription fees to play? If so, how much does it cost per season?
GB: Migrants don’t pay any subscription fees in these amateur leagues, but it’s difficult to make money immediately. Usually teams give players between €00 to €150 a month, but it always depends on the value of the player and his prospects.

🤔RI: Do players in your league get paid to play?
GB: It’s generally very complicated to find teams that pay young migrants, especially if they’re new arrivals. It depends on their value as players, but many teams recruit young migrants and don’t help them develop their value or experience, and this is wrong.

🤔RI: Do players in this kind of league have day-time jobs?
GB: Yes, players usually have other jobs, but it depends on which part of Italy you’re in. In the South its very complex.

🤔RI: What benefits do players get? For example, do they get help with accommodation or travel costs? Do you provide any types of training?
GB: We also have psychological training, and this is what I specialize in, because our players need to learn how to behave well and we need to give them the tools they need to face today's society.

The future

🤔RI: What future do you foresee for your players? Has anyone from your team gone on to a Serie A team? Do any of your players ever become trainers or managers?
GB: Adam Kane played with the first team and then became a trainer with the Juniores (RI note: national amateur league for ages 15-20) with great results.

Omar Gaye played with the first team and then went on to the C league. We certainly want out players to have a great future, but obviously we don’t want to deceive our players, and we prepare them the best we can to face the difficult world of football.

You can find out more about the team on their website, on Instagram @afronapoliunited or on Facebook. You can find out more about Guido Boldoni on Instagram @g.boldoni_5 or on Facebook.

Cover image (edited for size) found on @kkoulibaly26 Instagram account. Image 1 and 2 courtesy of Antonio Florio @antonioflorios. Image 3 courtesy of Pierfrancesco Accardo @pieraccardo.

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