As a parent, I am amazed at how few facilities there are available for kids in this country. If you want to play any sport, let alone football, you need to pay a small fortune. A lot of parkland is privately owned, so you can’t just rock up and play a game of whatever or you’ll get chased off.
In schools it’s seen as heinous to encourage any form of competition, as Little Jimmy’s development will be stifled if he loses a game of rounders or tiddlywinks. As such, team sports are on the decline, or positively discouraged.
Instead, kids are kept indoors in assembly halls and PE these days seems to amount to ludicrous waste of times such as “how to represent fire through the medium of dance”. It’s ridiculous.
BRAZIL CAN TEACH US A LOT ABOUT KIDS' FOOTBALL
In Brazil, there are hundreds upon hundreds of five-a-side pitches where kids can just turn up and play for hours on end for free. They’re not immaculately kept and are more often than not just dirt pitches, but the kids flock there in their thousands and hone their skills there. When I have been to Brazil on holiday and spent time with my family, I often take in the odd game of five-a-side.
The onus in these games is not necessarily to win, but to play beautifully and try to pull off wonderful tricks or sublime passes. If you play a long ball or hoof the ball into the air, you’ll be vilified, irrespective of whether or not it leads to a goal.
TOO MUCH DIRECT FOOTBALL IS ENCOURAGED IN ENGLAND
Over here, when you see the kids playing, the focus is always on getting the ball forward as quickly as possible in the hope that the big lump upfront will be able to fire a shot in on goal. When I see other parents watching their kids play, I tend to hear a lot of “get stuck in”.
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Not the most inspiring of instructions, but one of the most oft heard mantras on an English football field. Never mind skill, technique or ball retention, just make sure you let your opponent know you’re there. Hit them early and hit them hard. What is this, 1960?
Society in Britain generally is also an issue. Kids today seem more interested in working out how they can get very rich, very quickly without putting any effort in at all. They lack the drive, discipline and will to work hard at anything and as such won’t be able to master anything.
ENGLISH YOUNGSTERS LACK A DESIRE TO BE EXCELLENT TEAM PLAYERS
What we will be left with in a footballing capacity is a smattering of individuals who have put the effort in, but just don’t have the flair, technique or nous to amount to anything on the global stage. That is in part down to them, and in part down to the coaches in this country, all of whom were themselves very limited players.
Even the idols and role models that the kids aspire to are wrong. In my opinion, the most talented and gifted footballer that England have had in the last 10-15 years is Paul Scholes. He was a truly magnificent footballer. Who do the kids want to be though? David Beckham. Beckham was decent, no doubt, and his set-piece delivery was second to few.
IMAGE IS TOO GREAT AN INFLUENCE
However, if he looked like Quasimodo and married an ordinary girl-next-door, I sincerely doubt that he would be idolised as much as he is. It sums it all up nicely. When it comes to football and what the kids aspire to, they want to be the next Posh and Becks, rather than strive for bigger and better things.
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