Why has this country not produced a genuinely world-beating footballer like Lionel Messi in decades? Why has South America produced so many? Why have England mustered one semi-final appearance in a half-century of World Cups? Why have Argentina and Brazil reached eight finals between them within the same time frame?
The answers are simple. Just take a look at the grass-roots development of young footballers, both here and in South America.
In England, kids slog it out with one another on miserable Sunday mornings, hacking about in the mud, contending with gale-force wind and sideways rain. In South America, even with their comparatively superior climate, youngsters play a lot of their football indoors. Until recently, English children as young as ten were competing 11-vs-11 on almost full-sized pitches, perpetuating a culture of long balls, and chasing the lost cause. Meanwhile, their South American counterparts have been playing five-a-side, with a smaller ball, in a tighter space. England’s footballing youth has been ideologically starved, steeped in mantras of ‘get rid of it’, ‘victory at all costs’, and ‘substance over style’. In South America, this philosophy simply doesn’t exist.
In short, South America has had futsal; we have not. But English grass-roots football is undergoing something of a facelift, and futsal is playing a major role in its reawakening. Played as it is in such a tight space, it nurtures an intricacy, inventiveness, and a level of technical control that has been missing from the footballing education of so many of our promising youngsters. The fact that it is played inside negates the notoriously inclement English weather, and allows players to focus on technical development, as opposed to that staple of the English centre-half: the sliding tackle. Played in teams of five, it fosters the ability to form intimate footballing relationships, and exchange passes round corners, through legs, and in gaps. Effectively, it fosters footballing genius.
Indeed, it is with the nurturing hand of futsal that many of the game’s greats have been reared. In addition to Lionel Messi, global superstars such as Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xavi, and Ronaldinho have all made their way in the game via the futsal route, and this pedigree must surely form a convincing argument for its advocacy. With its timely emergence within the English game, perhaps we can truly take our place at football’s top table, and stop looking in from the periphery with envy.
Lions Futsal Course
Venue: Feltham Community College, Browells Lane, Feltham, TW13 7EF
Dates: 6th June 2016 to 27th June 2016
Time: 6pm - 7pm
For more information email: Kieran@lionssports.academy or call 020 3424 5070
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