The football revolution
Getting back on the right track in England should mean getting rid of this idea of 'elite players' in the game of football and bringing back respect for all young up and coming players, no matter where they come from or what their family background happens to be.
The big mistake here is the creation of a two tier youth development system at youth level, namely, the setting up of the academy on one hand and the school of excellence on the other. It cannot be right to have young players anywhere, feel second best, simply because they just happen to live in a small town where the professional club may have a different reality to that of any of the big clubs in the country.
The media always point out what happens in other countries - we should be talking about what happens here. Barcelona, they say, have the ability to bring in young players and educate them and train them up to become the players they are today. In England we have exactly the same opportunities as anybody anywhere in the world. The difference here though is that most of what goes on is not thought through to form a proper player development solution?
The implementation of the idea of the five a sides and the small areas of play, that have become the corner stone of business based solutions, here, is an example - the small sided game was in fact a financially motivated based solution.
In England, the problem is not a lack of talent it is what happens to that talent that is the problem, everything here, for example, became based on business and that in turn ended up with everyone having to adapt to the costs involved of using facilities which in turn ended up with five a sides becoming six a sides and seven a sides and even eight a sides but the areas of play in terms of size remained the same.
No one that is really concerned with the development of talented young players, especially in places like Spain would ever implement a game of eight, seven or six a sides in an area of play where you can hardly swing a cat. All playing environments have an effect and it so happens that tight areas of play are not in fact conducive to the development of talented youngsters anywhere.
A different culture
We have very personal issues here. Very often the wrong emphasis on things, it is said. We have pushy parents, as an example, but to call a parent 'pushy' is unfair. Parents are not pushy parents but in the main are ambitious parents and for me there is nothing wrong with that.
What is wrong is the failure of the coaches here to mix with the parents, so to speak, not only on the touchline but in the club in general and a failure to in effect educate the parents and the coaches to create the right culture on how the two should in fact behave.
All too often, the coaches see themselves as separate from the parents and there is an effective segregation of the parents from the club and so the parents can in effect become involved with their children in a way that makes everything personal and wrong. The lack of parental involvement in the clubs in general (parents should be a part of the club at youth level) has led to the creation of a development environment that is in effect wrong because the coaches have in fact dismissed the role of the parent.
The parents and coaches left to their own devices can be very destructive because in turn their personal input can create all sorts of problems including the creation of cliques and the destruction of talent. It is a mistake to segregate the parents from the player development process and therefore one of the main concerns in England should be to form the right relationship between the coaches and the parents and therefore create the right environment for the development of young players.
The horse before the cart
Both players and parents are alike - players like to play football and parents love to watch their child play football. It’s natural. The game of football though is not personal it is in fact a sporting endeavour that requires the right approach to player development problems.
In other words, the icing on the cake is put on after the cake is baked, so to speak and so in that case both the player and the parent need to be informed to put things into the right order and to in effect accept the reality of practice before playing. The parent’s job is to help with the education process and the coach’s job is to help with the education process, whether its football orientated or not.
We don’t need to create elitism in England. We need to create the correct football development culture, that, will in effect, deliver what everyone should in fact want, which is, the development of the talented players in our society and therefore the development of the type of people in effect that don’t see things as personal, that can be so destructive to everything.
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Martin Bidzinski is the author of football coaching books The Soccer Coaching Handbook, Smart First Touches and Soccer Training: Developing the 360° Player. For more information click on Martin's books click here.