In just a few weeks the annual transfer period for footballers will commence. And Dave Coelers, 24, who is following a Master programme in Corporate Law, may just play a vital part in the process. He is the very first student scout in Dutch professional football, working at Excelsior Football Club, which has recently intensified its collaboration with EUR.

Coelers learned football at his father’s knee. “My father is a Feyenoord supporter”, he told us. “I regularly attend games in the Netherlands and abroad, and I also play the Football Manager computer game, where, managing Excelsior, I won the Johan Cruijff Dish and reached the Champions’ League.” Even his Bachelor’s thesis was football-themed, dealing as it did with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations.

Swedish and Danish Second Leagues

Dave Coelers. Image credit: Joshua Kruter

And then, last April, he chanced upon an article in Algemeen Dagblad, stating that Excelsior was looking for a student scout. Coelers: “A very likeable club. I’d have been less keen on Ajax.” Without a moment’s hesitation, the young man from Barendrecht wrote a letter. Following two interviews with Marketing Director Wouter Gudde and General Manager Ferry de Haan, he was hired in early July.

Since then, Coelers has been watching matches played in the Swedish and Danish Second Leagues (two leagues Excelsior has not yet been able to examine), using the absolutely huge Wyscout video database. “I really lock myself up in my room when I do that, because I don’t want to miss a single thing.”

Central defender and striker

Coelers was not given any specific instructions on what to look for, so he assesses the players on aspects he himself values. For instance, it is important to him that players ‘do not nag at the referee’ and that they are always ready to accept the ball, which he judges by the players’ willingness to run.

He only reports on players who have sufficient positive qualities. In his reports he will sum up the players’ strengths and weaknesses and provide a final assessment, which will include a strong or reasonably strong recommendation to keep an eye on the player concerned. In the next few matches he will keep an eye out for these players (‘is their performance level consistent?’) and submit additional reports to head scout Brian Stolk.

“By now I have reported on a handful of players from either competition”, says Coelers. They include a central defender and a striker, but Coelers is loath to tell us what types of players they are and how long he has been keeping an eye on them. It is precisely for these positions that Excelsior will recruit new players during the upcoming winter break. Therefore, the club will examine these players more closely in the upcoming transfer period, and possibly offer them a contract. The other players Coelers has recommended will not become relevant until Excelsior seeks to expand its team in other positions.

Image credit: Joshua Kruter


Unlike regular scouts, Coelers does not have a professional football background. “But in a way I have been reading up on the sport for the last fifteen years by watching countless football games”, he posited. And he acquired analytical skills during his degree course. “It taught me to look for needles in haystacks. In a way, scouting work is similar. You watch games from a competition you are unfamiliar with and try to identify the right players.”

Will Coelers become a professional scout later on? “I don’t want to look too far ahead”, he told us. “I always dreamt of working in the football world. This is a unique opportunity, which is why I’m OK with the club merely offering me a season ticket by way of remuneration. I have always kept tabs on players. It would be great if these notes would now result in a player being hired.”