Boys Varsity Soccer Coach Akay Mustafa has been working as a regional scout and centre of excellence coach for Norwich City Football Club since September 2012.
Assistant Boys Varsity Soccer Coach Jay Marshall, who has been working with the Norwich youth set-up as well, referred Mustafa to the club. Marshall is currently the Centre of Excellence manager and head scout in the London area for Norwich. “I applied for the job at Norwich at the end of last season as the challenge they offered excited me. After a successful application process I began work at the start of this season”, Marshall said. “I’ve been working with Akay for four years now and I find him to be very professional, organized and positive.”
In order to execute a self-sustainable business model, Norwich City has recently invested heavily in a state-of-the art youth program in order to produce and develop its own players.
Every weekend, Mustafa travels to watch soccer matches across London to scout players between the ages of 11 and 21 for the club. Then, on Mondays, he spends his time coaching the players he has scouted at the Centre of Excellence for Norwich in West London.
Despite have only worked there for a few months, Mustafa has already impressed officials at the club with the job he has been doing with his work thus far. “Akay has only been working at Norwich since September but in a very short space of time he has made an impact,” Norwich City Head of Recruitment Gregg Broughton said. “He is a very hardworking and diligent coach, and has done very well identifying talented young footballers for Norwich City FC.”
The group in which Mustafa works consists of five scouts and three coaches. The players have six weeks to prove their potential to the coaches who then decide if the club should keep the player. The aim is to develop a player and observe if the player has enough potential to move on to the academy.
When scouting for potential players, Mustafa follows two different school of thought pertaining to talent identification.“As I scout for players I take two different approaches. The first approach is to look for more tangible and quantitative characteristics in players such as their pace, height, strength. But then there is also a more subjective interpretation of traits which is when scouts use our own personal judgement to determine the potential of a player.”
Mustafa admits it is difficult to tell if a player is going to be talented enough to eventually play for the club. “When you work with potential you don’t know what will happen,” he said.
The Centre of Excellence‘s team plays matches against other Centre of Excellence teams from different clubs as well as the Norwich City Academy. Since Mustafa has started his job he has seen three players from his area handed academy contracts. “The likelihood of making it as a pro is very small so we do the best we can to prepare them,” Mustafa said.
This is not Mustafa’s first time working in a talent-identifying capacity. In the past, he has referred players to other professional clubs such as Charlton and Fulham in an unofficial capacity. For example he gave an opportunity for Parker Gilbert (’11) to train with Fulham when Gilbert was a freshman.
Recently, Mustafa also gave an opportunity to Nick Muoio (’16) to play as a guest in one of the matches for Norwich City Centre of Excellence under-15 team However, Mustafa said that it is unlikely that he would be officially scouting any players from ASL for Norwich. “Nick did really well [when with Norwich] but I don’t think I will be scouting many students from ASL,” Mustafa said. “The level of Premier League players is obviously much higher than for the players playing at a High School level, and there’s a difference between club and school football.”
Mustafa is looking forward to continuing his job as a scout with Norwich City and aiding the club in producing tomorrow’s footballers. “I’m very happy here [at Norwich] scouting because there seems to be a lot of support from within,” Mustafa said. He also said that he was not looking to move up to a higher position at the club at the moment. “I need to finish my masters in sports management before I would think about doing anything else.”