When you think of football in Graz, you can’t avoid the colors black and red. SK Sturm and GAK 1902 are among the flagships of Styrian football, not only with their first teams but also with their youth departments. In order to attract talented players, both clubs organize regular tryouts and training sessions. However, it is often difficult to filter out players because there are always talented players who have a bad day and are therefore overlooked.
“At the same time, the battle for the best young talents is starting earlier and earlier. In scouting, it is therefore becoming increasingly important to act faster and, above all, more accurately,” says Thomas Raffl, sporting director for the U8 to U14 age group and coach of the U14s at SK Sturm. In order to increase scoring accuracy, Sturm held its first sighting days at the skills.lab Arena in Wundschuh in the winter of 2022 as part of its partnership with skills.lab, which has been running since 2020. “We invited the best talents from the scouting days to trial training based on the objective data from the skills.lab Arena. There, too, they immediately made a positive impression,” says Raffl.
As a partner of skills.lab, GAK also puts all of its teams to the test once a year in Wundschuh. In this way, the club always keeps an eye on the performance and development of its talents and professionals. However, when players came to Weinzödl for trial training during the season in previous years, it happened time and again that they did not have the required quality. “Through the GAK youth scouting in the skills.lab arena, we can now make an initial pre-selection much easier. This possibility of scouting also relieves us enormously in our daily work,” says Dieter Elsneg, sporting director of GAK.
Together with Sturm and GAK, the skills.lab team led by Head of Sports Roland Goriupp has put together two 30-minute assessment programs from the skills.lab Arena exercise portfolio, in which the clubs each set their own priorities. Passing, goal kicking, dribbling and first contact are tested as well as speed of action and cognitive skills.
“In the skills.lab Arena, we are able to measure, among other things, passing and shooting accuracy as well as dribbling speed more precisely than anywhere else. This allows us to objectively compare talents because the same, fair conditions are created for all players,” says Goriupp.
SK Sturm’s youth scouting program at skills.lab focuses on players born between 2010 and 2013, while GAK is looking for talent born between 2007 and 2013 in this way. If a talent from the age group they are looking for would like to recommend themselves for one or both clubs, they book an appointment for the scouting of the desired club at skills.lab Wundschuh on www.skills-lab.com/wundschuh/scouting/. Until the end of October, the special price of € 49 per talent and assessment applies to both programs.
During the 30 minutes in the skills.lab Arena, the talent shows what it is made of. If the player is satisfied with his or her performance, the results are forwarded to the respective club in the form the performance data collected. Sturm or GAK will then decide whether to invite the player to a tryout and inform him or her personally.
“The youth scouting in the skills.lab Arena is the direct chance for players to apply to us. With the data, we get an objective impression of a talent and, if they perform well, we can then get a more detailed picture of them in a trial training session,” says GAK sports director Elsneg.
His counterpart Andreas Schicker, Managing Director Sport at SK Sturm, is looking forward to the applications: “We have been using the skills.lab arena intensively and successfully for more than three years for targeted, data-based scouting as well as objective assessment of all players in the club from the youth age groups to the professionals. The youth scouting is therefore an ideal extension of our partnership with skills.lab and I look forward to all the talents who want to present themselves to SK Sturm with their skills.”