Hakon Grøttland is the Head of Player Development for the Norwegian FA. The Player Development Project were lucky enough to have an inside look at how Norway develops young players and how this is influenced by the nation’s culture.
Hakon Grøttland never played football at an elite level due to injury. However, he counts himself lucky in that the series of events which led to the end of his playing days meant he could start his coaching career early. It is clear from talking to him that he is passionate about player development and has dedicated his working life to coaching. He started with a Master’s degree in football from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, before becoming head coach at level three in Norwegian football when he was 25. A period of time working in the women’s game followed, and then four years working in the Norges Fotballforbund (NFF) before taking the reigns as Head of Player Development. It was while he was working at NFF that he was lucky enough to have had the “pleasure of discovering” Norwegian football’s young star Martin Ødegaard.
The NFF has a new player development model for the 12 to 16 age group called the National Team School. It is an innovative model which Hakon is “very proud of”. He explains: “Through this we will ensure that we identify the right players, that they get a common football education towards youth teams, and ensure that everyday life for the player is as optimal as possible.”
There are a total of 20 full-time employees and 700 part-time staff trainers who work in this model. The aims of the “Landslagsskolens” are to identify and further develop players with ownership of their own development and to identify and prepare the right players for the youth national teams.
Despite the ‘Nation Team School’ name, the influence of Norway’s culture on the country’s player development is “a complex issue”, according to Hakon. “We are a small nation with a harsh climate and historically we had few resources,” he explains. “But over the last thirty years we have become one of the richest countries in the world as a result of…
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