It is raining persistently on this Friday afternoon, but the artificial turf pitch in Graz-Weinzödl is still a lively place. The U12s of GAK 1902 are warming up for a training session. Alongside the boys in red jackets and trousers, a tall blonde in a grey football outfit is getting ready. It’s David, who is a training guest at GAK that day. The 11-year-old earned his chance to play for the Reds of Graz a few weeks earlier at the skills.lab in Wundschuh.
Since September 2023, talented young players have had the opportunity to apply directly to GAK or SK Sturm through an objective scouting programme in the skills.lab Arena, the world’s most modern training and assessment system. The 30-minute test to be completed consists of various exercises. Passing, shooting, dribbling and first contact are tested, as are speed of action and cognitive skills. The precise measurements in the skills.lab Arena make it possible to gain a detailed and comprehensive impression of a player.
A player’s performance data is sent directly from skills.lab to the club. The club then decides whether to invite a talent to a training session and get to know him better. David’s father Markus was immediately convinced by the opportunity: “I think it’s good that it’s not just about superficial things, but only about performance.” The GAK didn’t have to think twice about David’s performance. “On Sunday, David completed scouting at skills.lab Wundschuh and on Monday afternoon, GAK invited him to a trial training session,” says his father.
Through the scouting programme, the Reds are discovering talent that would otherwise not have been on their radar. David has been playing for SK Stojen Kapellen/Mürz, over an hour’s drive from Graz, since he was five years old. His father Markus has been his coach so far. “He’s an all-rounder, he played everything with me. Even in goal,” he smiles. “But now I’d say he’s at home in midfield, whether defensively or offensively. That’s where he plays best.”
David has already impressed with his overview and passing quality in a test match at GAK. “He felt good and it’s important for his development to experience a higher level now to see how far he’s already come,” says his father. The positive impression of his performance in the scouting process at skills.lab Wundschuh has certainly been confirmed. “He has good ideas on the ball, you can see that straight away,” says George Hill, U12 coach of the Graz Reds. David will continue to train with the team in the coming weeks before a decision is made on how to proceed with the talent.
The two-hour drive per training session from Graz to the north of Styria and back is no problem for his parents. “If we weren’t fully convinced that he could do it, we wouldn’t do it. David enjoys it, he loves playing and performs well,” says his father proudly. A talent that fortunately has not gone undiscovered.