The Relative Effect of Age in Football: Ethical Consideration and Research Results

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Ethical Considerations

Throughout the research of the study ethical issues will be considered throughout. When collecting data for the birth dates of players, the managers of the grass roots teams, chief executive of the community scheme and academy managers were told specifically what they will be partaking within and what information is needed from them. (Appendix 1.7)To keep the players details confidential all that was required were the birth dates of the child, as this will keep personal details which are not required safe and ensured the research could not be related back to any specific person. Consent forms were included to evidence their cooperation within the study. (Appendix 1.2, 1.3, 1.4) When giving information the use of a data template in which the teams filled out to make sure only the necessary information is given was used.

The collection of data for the interviews will include specifically explaining verbally and documenting what the coaches will be partaking within, and where the results of the research will be used with consent forms highlighting their cooperation within the study. (Appendix 1.9)The necessary resources needed to carry out the interviews were accessed prior to the interviews, such as Dictaphones and interview rooms. (Appendix 2.0). The information collected from the coaches was specific to the research needs and the only information needed personally from the coach was of what club they are involved with. The information gathered through the interview was only viewed by the researcher and the MIS Supervisor. Questions were designed prior to the interviews to enable ethical approval on them. (Appendix 1.5)

It was made aware to all parties involved within the research project that there was ethical approval approved by an appropriate representative of the Faculty Research Ethics Committee at Leeds Metropolitan University and that if any issues arise they will be informed to ensure confidence in the divulgence of research. This was done through the completion of necessary forms, such as risk assessment (Appendix 2.1) local level approval .

The results of the research that has been carried out in context to themselves or their team has been made available for them to view at the end of the research, to ensure the participants have evidence that the ethical considerations they agreed to have been kept and to view areas in which may help their development.


Birth Month Statistics

The research project aimed at the start to view the different levels of football and how the influence of the relative age effect impacts each of the levels (Academy, Gras root and Community).

Figure one below shows the total number of Academy players within the study. The results in figure one show that throughout the age groups excluding one (U12) the majority of players are made up by the oldest players from the selection period with the younger players being underrepresented. 

Table 1: Percentage of Academy players

Age GroupSep – NovDec – FebMar – MayJune – Aug

The table above relates to figure one. The table highlights the difference in the number of academy players born within each month.

When viewing the grass root football players the effect that the birth bias had on this level of football was found to be significantly different to the one found within the academy results. Figure 2 shows the number of the grass root players categorised into age and birth month groups.

Table 2: Percentage of Grass root players

Age GroupSep – NovDec – FebMar – MayJune – Aug

Table two below presents the percentage of players born, categorized into age groups and the month in which the players were born. The table highlights the divergence throughout the age groups in relation to the relative age effect.

The final level of football that the study researched into was the football players who participated in football within a community scheme. Figure three shows the number of players within each age group divided into the quarter months. The graph clearly presents that the relative age effect is still prevalent within this level of football, which is the lowest standard within the study.

Table three highlights the percentage of players participating within the community scheme. The table presents the findings of the players through the use of percentages in relation to the number of players each birth month consists of.

Table 3: Percentage of Community Players

Age GroupSep – NovDec – FebMar – MayJune – Aug

Table 4: Difference between the Oldest and Youngest Players

Age GroupCommunityGrass rootAcademy 

Table four above presents the difference between the oldest players and youngest players (%) within the different age groups, categorized into standard of play. The table presents both positive differences and negative differences (-). Negative differences equal a bias towards the youngest players within the year groups.

Interview Analysis

Figure four above presents the results of question four within the interview in relation to the awareness of the relative age effect. The results highlight optimal level of awareness of the relative age effect.

Table 5: Impact of the Relative Age Effect

ResponseCan the relative age effect Impact your Coaching?Have you tried Anything to help Reduce the affect in your team?

Table five above highlights the number of coaches that feel the relative age effect impacts their coaching process along with whether they have implemented anything into their coaching to reduce the effect.


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