Ever wondered what the life of a football scout is like? Just like football clubs, we here at Umbro have a scouting team looking for the best players around the world that are looking for great football boots. It's not as glamorous as you might expect - there's a lot of watching football in all types of weather, at all levels of the game - but occasionally there are some exciting trips to spot the best talent around the world. At the moment, one of our top Sports Marketing guys is in Argentina for the South American U17 Championships, and he's been sending us some diary updates of his trip so far. Not that we're jealous at all....
Day 1 and 2.
Twenty nine hours after departing sunny Manchester, I finally arrived in a cloudy and calm Mendoza in Argentina – not that I’m complaining as I really enjoy these assignments. However, this time, I’ve already had a few issues. Not only have I missed my flight connection from Santiago to Mendoza and had to wait an extra five hours at the airport, but my luggage has also not arrived.
a good note, the view we get just before we land in Santiago, as we fly over
the Andes and see the immense and beautiful mountains, is incredible.
While I wait for my luggage to arrive I have had the opportunity to get to know the surroundings of the hotel, located right in the centre of the city next to a beautiful square called Plaza Independencia.
First assignment tonight, if you can call it that, is going out for a barbecue dinner, which the Argentinians are famous for. I just hope the other guests, scouts of important European clubs, do not notice that I’m wearing the same outfit that I was wearing on the flight over here!
Really excited for the first two games of the competition (the Under-17 South American Championships) in San Luis, a city that is situated about 250km from Mendoza. The ten South American countries that form part of the CONMEBOL take this competition very seriously, using this opportunity to showcase their best talent, to give the players International exposure and also to see how they behave and react when playing with the best players of their age in the continent.
It’s about all that but it’s also about winning, let’s not forget these are pre-professional and in many cases already professional players so they are being prepared for real sporting life.
Two buses full of agents and scouts from some of the best clubs in the world depart from still cloudy Mendoza for the three hour journey to San Luis, the headquarters of the event.
outside Mendoza, the opportunity to see some vineyards. The region around
greater Mendoza is the largest wine producing area in Latin America and, as
such, it is one of the nine cities worldwide in the network of the great
capitals of wine, and the region is an emerging tourism destination and base
for exploring the hundreds of wineries in the region. I guess, I will have to plan
some kind of wine tour...
Before I left England, I had checked the weather forecast for the region and packed a case full of summer gear, sadly it was slightly chilly on the way but the surprise came when we sat to watch the two opening games. In a stadium with a beautiful view on the side of a mountain range, boy, it was cold… I thought I was watching a game in the north of England in the middle of winter! Sure I’ll get a lot of sympathy…
The opening game was between a very strong Colombia and the underdogs Paraguay. Both nations have been doing very well in South American football and both have qualified for the under-20 World Cup later this year in Turkey at the expense of Argentina and Brazil.
The great majority of these players are playing in their national league clubs but there is the odd one already playing away from the country or the continent. The first game was a very good contest and although Colombia were in my opinion a better team, the result was a 1-1 draw which in the end seemed quite fair.
Although the differences between South American and European football are
getting less and less, we could immediately see some of the skill and flair of
these players. The passion has also not been lost as we could see in some of
the tackles that were made during the games!
The second game of the evening was between the hosts Argentina and Ecuador. The noise levels went up quite a few decibels as the teams entered the field and we could hear some passionate singing during the anthems.
We expected two different styles of play and that is exactly what we got as the very skillful Argentina team and the traditionally fast and strong Ecuador went head to head.
Individually Argentina were really good, especially if we take in consideration the age of these boys. They started with great speed and tactical movement but Ecuador sat quietly controlling the game, once they recovered it they turned at great pace to counter attacks using their speedy forwards.
In the modern game, you have to have a few more qualities as a team than just skill
and flair and Ecuador offered more as a team, winning the game quite
comfortably 2-0. An opening day defeat for the host nation, and already we
could hear some voices of discontent towards teh of the manager.
Today, day 2 of the competition, I am looking forward to watching our Peru team vs Uruguay followed by Brazil vs Chile. There will not be a need for a long journey this time, the stadium is a 10 minute drive from our hotel. After that, a rest day, and I’m sure we will have the opportunity to check the local cuisine and the famous wine of the region...I will tell you about that later.
Thanks to Paulo for giving us some insight into his trip, we’ll hopefully hear from him again as long as he doesn’t get too distracted!