01 Feb 2013
Sowing the Seeds – Footballs’ Social Network
In a recent FA survey children were asked what they felt was the most enjoyable thing about playing football… ‘Meeting with and making new friends’ topped the list by a mile. Far ahead of winning, scoring, league tables, medals and trophies, all identified as adult preoccupations.
With the media hype that surrounds the game, the ridiculous salaries and tabloid antics of some high profile players it’s easy to forget the wide ranging and long term social benefits that football brings. It develops the socialisation of children and communities and like all sports football brings together people from different social and cultural backgrounds.
“Through shared interest and experience we gain an understanding and respect for others that filters into everyday life.”
Our generation of children face unprecedented pressures, whether it’s academic performance, unrealistic advertising imagery or the desire to keep up with friends. On top of this they have to pick their way through the social media minefield. As a parent I know only too well how out of touch I am with technology and its social dimension.
As adults we understand the need for children to grasp wider social skills that can only develop with face to face contact and communication. All sports do this, but grassroots football leads the way in participation and potential benefits.
Much has been made of the recent £105m investment in the elite National Football Centre at St Georges Park, with its health spa, conference centre, hotel and bar. It has been tasked to deliver the nation a long awaited trophy. Time will tell if the investment will generate the desired return. Meanwhile the advantage of investing in the sport and its millions of participants at community level should not be overlooked.
Carl Robertson is Head Coach with Brazilian Soccer Schools in SW Herts and a Grassroots Coach with Cassiobury Rangers FC.