The New York Times Magazine has a feature article on the Ajax soccer development program – they recruit players as young as 7 years old and train them to 19 years if the player is good enough to be kept with the program. Like the development programs of other soccer teams, Ajax begun their program to identify, attract and train young players for the Ajax professional team, long one of the best in Europe. But with more money being made by top players in the English, Spanish, and Italian leagues, Ajax has shifted strategy a bit, aiming to send players to the best teams in the world. The payoff? Millions of dollars to Ajax from transfer fees.
Not every player becomes a star, perhaps just a few will. But as the article points out, the rewards for developing and selling the contract rights for just one superstar can keep the whole operation rolling for a while.
HT to Al Roth and the Market Design blog, who said, “shades of both Harry Potter and Ender’s Game.”
World Cup begins in 5 days.