The variability of the player pathway presents a number of interesting challenges both for the Japanese Football Association (JFA) and the J League clubs. From the JFA’s perspective, better understanding whether a player’s route impacts on his peak performance will inform how to evolve the pathway to maximise the chances of National Team success in the long run. For clubs, there is a need to be knowledgeable about the talent on each route to compete for the best players, for which data analytics can undoubtedly help. And this extends beyond Japan’s borders – smart European clubs seeking to attract quality talent into their academy system would do well to consider the potential in the Japanese system, providing they can find a way to navigate it.
Either way, each of the player pathways are working to the extent that all three were well represented in Japan’s march to the last 16 in the 2022 World Cup, with defeats of Spain and Germany lending further weight to the general effectiveness of the Japanese pathways. But better understanding the relative merits of each will help inform how Japanese football can match its ambition on the pitch with the production of elite talent off of it.
Here at Twenty First Group, we’re developing a system to better enable the technical scouting of players across Japan’s pathway. If you would like to find out more about our Performance Intelligence services, or our work in Japanese football, please get in touch with Ben Marlow or Kaita Sugihara (in Tokyo, Japan).