World Football

How BrainsFirst helped AZ Alkmaar win UEFA Youth League?

Dhruv Sharma

May 10 2023
AZ Alkmaar UEFA Youth League

The Dutch club won the prestigious trophy this season

AZ Alkmaar are a Dutch professional club based in the city of Alkmaar, North Netherlands. The club was founded in 1967 after the merging names of two local clubs, Alkmaar and FC Zaanstrek. But in 1986, the club changed it’s name to AZ Alkmaar, since then the club has been playing in the top division of Dutch football.

The club has a rich history of success in the Eredivisie, winning two league titles, four KNVB cups, and one Johan Cruyff Shield; their home stadium, the AFAS Stadion has the ability to fit in approximately 20,000 people and bears the name of a Dutch software company.

In the 1980-81 season, under the guidance of coach George Kessler, Alkmaar won their first Eredivisie title. AZ’s success was built on solid defence, as they only conceded 18 goals in 34 matches, which is still a record in the Dutch football. The club’s second league title came in the 2008-09 season, in that same season Louis van Gaal was the manager and the club performed exceptionally well that season too.

Since then, AZ has managed to play in the top division and their success stories are quite inspiring to all the people around the world. Let’s take a look into the club’s recent performances from UEFA Youth League to UEFA Europa Conference League.

Recently, the club has reached the UEFA Europa Conference League semi-finals where they will go head to head against David Moyes and his West Ham team led by their promising midfielder Declan Rice. After they started their Europa Conference campaign in the second qualifying round, they have now beaten Lazio and Anderlecht.

How BrainsFirst has revolutionized football strategy

AZ’s scouting have laid a foundation for all the clubs around the world. The youth academy of the club has produced new young talents, and one of the main reasons has been the introduction of neuroscience in football.

One of the ways in which neuroscience (BrainsFirst) is being used in football is through the analysis of player brain activity. By using electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technologies, researchers can measure brain activity and identify patterns that may be associated with performance. This information is then used to improve training and coaching strategies.

Another way in which neuroscience is being applied in football is through the use of brain training techniques. These techniques are designed to improve cognitive function and decision-making. By enhancing these abilities, players can improve their performance on the pitch. Neuroscience is also being used to develop new technologies that can help players and coaches to better understand their brains and the brains of their opponents. For example, there are now wearable devices that can track brain activity and provide real-time feedback on a player’s cognitive state.

In April, AZ Alkmaar won the UEFA Youth League by scoring 19 goals and conceding only twice in the knockout stages. This was the club’s first Youth League title since the competition’s inauguration in the year 2013. With proper talent identification and development, they have been one of Europe’s best academics.

AZ does not only look for technically, physically, and mentally sound players but also cognitively. They have collaborated with an organization BrainsFirst, which focuses and developing cognitive skills in footballers; the club has been studying the brains of players as young as 12 to understand their potential.

Elite level football is not primarily physical activity but a brain activity as well. The muscles are secondary, but the brain is primary.

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