26 Jun 2013
More Than Just a Game
Fun, friends and football – the perfect mix!
Football is big business. Players earn more a year than most earn in a lifetime while broadcasters and bookmakers boost balance sheets.
In this whirlwind of high finance the essence of the game can easily be forgotten and an opportunity to join a pro club is enticing.
So it’s worth considering why football became the world’s dominant sport.
Association Football grew out of the Industrial Revolution and the need for factory workers to exercise.
City elders encouraged the sport, recognising the social benefit of a game played by teams drawn from a workplace or local district.
This Corinthian spirit may have been lost to the professional game but at grassroots it’s as strong as ever.
Volunteers devote spare time to coach, support and administer the game they love.
Players often play for one club through childhood forging lifelong friendships, in time becoming volunteers themselves.
Local teams like Cassiobury Rangers, Croxley Guild, Evergreen, Abbots Youth, Hemel Comets and many others keep this tradition alive.
Young players live the dream, emulating their heroes in the colours of their own club. Teenagers get up on a Sunday and develop social skills needed in an adult world.
Grassroots football provides structure and purpose beyond school and home-life.
So if you’re a scout for pro club with instructions to pluck 7 year old superstars from their grassroots teams, why not take different view?
Pro and grassroots clubs could work together to raise the standard of football generally and identify the stars of the future.
Most grassroots coaches can share a tale of the shattered dreams of a talented teenager, discarded after years at a pro club.
We get one shot at childhood, in the blink of an eye your 6 year old turns 16.
Players flourish in a happy environment, having fun with friends. Their memory of youth football should be a positive one.
Professionalism undoubtedly develops talent but grassroots breeds it.
Carl Robertson is a coach at Brazilian Soccer Schools & Cassiobury Rangers FC