Left-handers normally account for around 10 to 12 per cent of the population, although in the world of sport the number of “lefties” can be substantially higher. Indeed, in football, it is widely accepted that the number of natural left-footed players in the game is around 20%.
If that figure seems high, the Vale Academy would probably agree with you, since at a recent management meeting they identified that out of the 105 players from under-9s to under-16s, there were only 17 left footers in the whole Academy set up.
“We’d never really studied it that closely before,” said Academy FDP Lead Coach and Head of Recruitment Lee Foyle, “but when we did it seemed that the number was too low, and we should try for a better balance.
“We have open trials fairly regularly and usually manage to recruit a number of players each time, so we came up with the idea of a ‘Left-Footer Talent Identification Day’.
“We promoted this through various social media channels and were amazed at the response it generated.”
In fact, the Academy received over 400 replies from far and wide and the novel idea also captured the imagination of the National media with Sky Sports and The Times being two of the principal organisations who provided coverage in the lead up to the event.
Around 100 hopefuls were eventually invited to the Club to be put through their paces by the Academy coaches and 23 players were identified as having potential. Of these, 10 have been invited to the Community Trust sessions, 10 to the Academy Development centre and the final three will join the Academy on a six-week trial basis.
“It could be the first time that a League club has tried something like this.” Added Lee.
“It was certainly successful in identifying potential talent and it has made us think about how we should approach open day trials in the future.”