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Social and Structural Changes in Hungarian Talent Care: The case of a sports club

Sociology of sport lacks information on the proper demographic description of athletes who are selected into a national sport talent care program. Therefore, the current study attempted to fill the gap in this area. Research from abroad has demonstrated that whilst sport appears to be a democratic social environment, the initial opportunities are not exactly equal. The majority of elite athletes come from the upper-middle class rather than the lower social classes (Coakley 1997, Eitzen & Sage 1997). The objective of the current study was to identify the social status of young athletes, from the Central School of Sports in Budapest, who took part in a Hungarian government-sponsored national sports talent care program. Another objective of the study was to assess possible changes on the social ladder with time. We were able to address the second issue through the examination of data collected 30 years ago in the same milieu and to compare it - with certain precautions - with a similar dataset obtained in the course of the current work. The interpretation of the data was based on the statistical analysis of the examined periods. The main findings indicate that most athletes in the Central School of Sports come from an upper-middle class social background, but there were some differences in the various types of sport. For example, pentathletes and water polo players come from the most advantaged social class. It appears then, that membership in a given social class is more important than the fair skill-based selection process.

Abstract

Introduction. The aim of the study was to identify differences in the level of fitness and technical skills of young soccer players depending on age.

Material and methods. The study examined 140 male elite soccer players from the Polish Sport Academy aged 12 to 18 years. Body mass, body height, fitness abilities (5-m, 10-m, and 30-m sprint; envelope run; standing long jump; pull-ups; and beep test) and technical skills (ball handling, juggling alternately with the leg and the head, short passes, and long passes) were measured.

Results. Statistically significant (p < 0.05) differences indicating improvement with age were found in older players in speed (15.5%-18.8%), agility (5.7%), lower limb explosive power (39.4%), upper limb strength (254.3%), and cardiorespiratory endurance (31.9%). With regards to technical skills, the greatest progress was documented for long shots (passes) with the internal instep from the ground (140.6% for the dominant leg, DL, and 730.3% for the non-dominant leg, NDL). Slightly lower results were obtained for short shots (passes) with the central instep from the air (128% for DL and 103.6% for NDL) and short shots (passes) with the medial part of the foot (52.1% for DL and 82.8% for NDL), and the lowest were recorded for ball handling with direction change (32.3% for DL and 29.9% for NDL).

Conclusions. In the process of talent identification and monitoring of training effects, coaches should take into account the differences in the rate of the development of fitness and technical skills of young athletes.

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