West Brom have launched a digital programme, which they hope will see the club find talented youngsters who have evaded the watchful eyes of their scouts.
Beat the Baggies is an online initiative, which invites young players to film themselves completing a technical football challenge (which you can view in the video below) as fast as possible and then upload the footage to www.beatthebaggies.com.
More after the break
If they do it in a quicker time than current West Brom youngsters, they could be invited to train with the club and win a place at their academy.
"We want to challenge boys up and down the country to beat the times set by our current academy players," says the club's academy recruitment officer, Matt Richardson. "We believe there are players out there who may be better than what we've already got.
"Once they’ve submitted the video, a member of the recruitment department will watch it and review the time. If they have beaten one of the times for the age groups they will be contacted and a training session at our academy will be arranged."
The challenge tests a player's dribbling, movement, touch and shooting ability, to give the club's coaches an insight to their ability. “We thought we needed a very simplistic process or challenge that would allow us to get a snapshot of a player’s potential," he continues.
“We’re not saying the skills challenge gives us a complete picture. But it gives us a little idea of where they are in their development, how they turn, control a ball and how they move. Then we can take a further look at them in our academy.”
With cage football, five-a-side and even futsal becoming increasingly popular, West Brom are hopeful the scheme will prevent players from slipping through the scouting net.
“We’ve got a great team of scouts who work very hard but we also know some boys don’t play organised football, so they might not get spotted,” he continues.
“There are also some boys who do play organised football but we simply don’t see. We just wanted to empower kids to have the opportunity to have a crack at playing academy football.
“We live in a very multi-cultural world now and Birmingham is very much like that. There are 30-40 primary schools around us and the population in Birmingham is enormous. A huge number of those boys don’t play football.
“Some of that is down to a lack of opportunity or awareness in terms of how it works and also cultural differences. A good portion don’t play organised football or play in leagues the Premier League and Football League aren’t aware of.”
West Brom have established a reputation as one of the Premier League’s most prolific academies when it comes to scouting and nurturing young talent. This season Jonathan Leko, Sam Field and Kane Wilson have all featured for the first team.
Do you think you have what it takes to become a West Brom academy player? Visit www.beatthebaggies.com and you could take a step closer to your dream of becoming a Premier League footballer.