My good friend and old coaching partner has returned to his native land for the next year. Returning home to Germany has meant trying to find a local club for his son and our former DSC centre back, Sammy. He hopes to continue his footballing career on foreign soil and what a great chance to experience a very different football culture. He has now found a club with similar community values to our own at DSC. As part of his induction to the new club he was given a document which described the club and its philosophy. One sentence stood out for him which embraced the difference between our nations:
“We don’t see the teams we play against as opposition but as partners which help our youngsters to become better footballers”
I remember suggesting something similar to an SFA official. They loved the idea and fully supported it but struggled to see a way that we could introduce it. I know other enlightened clubs who have complementary views with some leagues working on it as I write this.
Subsequently, this brought my thoughts to all the discussions surrounding street football. We look back at those days with rose tinted spectacles and, to be honest, I don’t think that environment will ever return. However, I would like to take some aspects from it and try to apply it in today’s culture. Back in the day, we spent most night’s and every chance we could playing both small and large sided games. My fondest memories were the ‘big side’ down the park. These could vary from 7 to 15-a-side. The great thing was that the games were always tight and the sides were picked evenly on ability (not age). Not only picking the teams this way but we adjusted them if a team got too far ahead. It was not unusual for the best player of the winning team to be moved over to the other side. So here’s some radical suggestions:
- Could we pick teams to play against each other to make it more competitive?
- Could we ‘lend’ out our better players to other teams to help them?
- Could some teams have more or less than 11 players?
- Could we have games where we mix up the teams?
- Could players play for more than 1 club and maybe 3 or 4 clubs at the same time?
If we are to once again produce quality footballers, we really need to change the mentality from winning teams to developing footballers. This takes collaboration rather than competition between clubs. Can we work with other clubs as partners? I would love to see this but fear too many have their own self-interest at heart.
If (arguably) the world’s best footballing nation has this collaborative approach at grassroots level then why are we so arrogant to think it will never work in the UK?
Continuing on the Germanic theme, German philosopher Nietzsche produced this great quote
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger”
Surely our football does not need to die before it gets stronger but I fear it is dying unless we take some radical action. It is time for ‘Das Reboot’
Postscript: As I was writing this post I received a scoreboard showing a 34-0 win from a Scottish Cup tie at u16 level. What good does this type of game do anyone? Welcome your thoughts?
6 thoughts on “Das Reboot”
Love that German philosophy! Some of your ideas reminded me of what happens at a lot of BB football tournaments and matches (and some will laugh at the familiarity of this, or perhaps in jest, but hey-ho!): it is fairly common that teams will turn up and they’ve not quite got five for a 5-a-side tournament but the others want to play so their leaders bring them. Chances are other teams turn up with loads of potential subs or squad players. Years ago, I used to have virtually no chance of getting these boys to play for the opposition (and some teams would rather not them) purely out of loyalty to their own team. Nowadays, though, I find the boys are more amendable to the idea and they generally still take the games quite seriously. I’m not just talking about primary-school-aged kids, either. Our current Stirlingshire/Clacks BB tournaments about once a month involve half the evening being ‘serious’ games and the second half being randomly mixed up (by the leaders, or by the boys, who’ve seen who’s good, etc. during the first part of the evening) so the boys get to know other BB laddies and it generates more respect the next month when they play the serious stuff again at the beginning.
I’d love to think it could catch on in a more purely football-focused context like FVFDA etc, but I have my doubts, sadly! As for 34-0… where were the responsible adults?
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Thanks Fraser. Great to hear that. I am sure once the boys get over the initial embarrassment then a close game is more enjoyable than a one sided affair. Good on the BB for trying to do something different.
Thought provoking as usual David, and your out of box thinking hopefully provides some thinking points for others, as change of perspective is the number one thing that is required from coaches.
Thanks Mira, its the old Einstein saying that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Not just saying but doing things differently is key for me.
I am sure if even some of these changes were implemented and if they were given time, they would work. However in my opinion football has not moved on with the times, we live in a time where 95% of the kids are central heating kids, they do not have an appetite for training out in the freezing cold wind and rain, surprising they do have access to other forms of fun which we never had.
We as a society have failed miserably, as we have all stood by and allowed successive governments and local councils to ignore the sport ignoring the dire need for investment in indoor facilities. Almost all the governments to date will agree that when the national team is doing well there is a feel good factor which spreads through the nation but they continue to ignore the lack of investment.
Explain stupidity, doing things the same time after time and expecting different results, that’s us.
In my opinion until this trend is reversed we will be very inconsistent and at best mediocre.
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Thanks Danny. I agree, the world has moved on and the street football culture that we knew has gone. All we can try and do is create the best environment for kids to play. The central heating/Xbox generation doesn’t push kids to get outside and play. It is sore to watch and sadly we have all played a part in this by being sucked into this commercially driven fantasy games that they now spend their precious time on.