by Graham Ramsay
How do we create real players? That is the question. We have been a soccer country with professional soccer since 1967 and many would argue that we have yet to produce any world class players. And yet we have spent millions of dollars with more sponsors and more DVD’s on teaching us the arts of the game than we know what to do with. The United States should be soccer utopia by now.
Obviously, the present dysfunctional system does not work and at the present speed, soccer will be replaced by the next fad sport. If this was a business, we would be bankrupt and a memory.
POSSIBLE ANSWER – We need youngsters to step up to learn how to organize their own games and this means adults, for the most part, need to retreat or disappear from the pitches. This includes learning to set up the games and creating their own teams and leagues. When they take ownership of their team and league, maybe one or two adults might supervise – but only in a supportive role. I am certain our youngsters are smart enough to learn the ropes of organizing their own teams and leagues. Years ago, such was the way in many schools.
This can be done within a school, boys and girls club or any youth group with a minimum of supervision.
The lessons are many and valuable – learning to assemble a team, creating a league, learning to debate, give and take. You need very little money but a lot of creativity. You might not have a “home” so you improvise one – paint cans or jersey tops for goals. Your “home” might be a local street or cul-de-sac where traffic is minimal. Or perhaps a local parking lot or piece of wasteland. A real pitch was the equivalent of Wembley Stadium or Maracana Stadium. Uniforms are expensive but youngsters are brilliant at improvising like opposites – dark vs. light, socks up vs. socks down, shirts out vs. shorts in.
Then there is the ball.
If you are lucky enough to own one – great. But that’s where the brilliant imagination that only children possess comes in – like children of the barrios (the slums of Montevideo). It’s here where they not only built their own balls using straw and cane, but created a new type of ball – the futsal ball. This development lead to the invention of a new game played all over the world.
We need to encourage youngsters to take ownership of “their” game with the assistance of one or two adults at most. Like the children mentioned above, they become the real future of the sport. Do this and I will guarantee you a life long passion to a great sport.
WARNING – Too structured, too organized, too much adult interference and another generation of robots will result. You can tell when more adults dominate the game by all the screaming from parents and coaches – the fastest route to producing another generation of drop-outs.
THE HOPE – Youngsters that become ‘leaders’ both skillful and creative. They can coach themselves. The coaching is being done by the players. This way we will produce ‘savvy’ players and a bright future for the sport.
- Pitches - November 10, 2017
- Pet Peeve: No Weak Foot - November 10, 2017
- Heading Against the Wall - June 9, 2017
- Acorn League - May 23, 2017
- Soccer Specific Partnership Announcement - April 25, 2017
- “WOW”! Moments - April 21, 2017
- Recycle - April 4, 2017
- Coaching the Grey - April 3, 2017
- Tactical Inflexibility - March 20, 2017
- How Do We Create Real Players? - January 24, 2017
- One-vs-One - January 11, 2017
- Purist or Pragmatist? - December 13, 2016
- Which Position? A or B? - December 11, 2016
- These Football Times Interview - November 30, 2016
- Referee - November 21, 2016
- Dummying Down Our Youth Footballers - November 18, 2016
- Throw-In? Kick-In? Dribble-In? - November 16, 2016
- College Soccer Podcast - November 10, 2016
- You Call Yourself a Player? - November 2, 2016
- The Concept of Play-Truly Lost in America? - November 1, 2016