#9 v2 - Page 26

Running, Running, Running By Andy McPherson - (@2NarMe) 1986 saw the return of the magnificent seven from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet onto television screens across the United Kingdom. The muchloved characters who hit our screens in 1983 on a building site in Dusseldorf were back and as brilliant as ever. Angry, yet sentimental about the country which had left them unemployed under Thatcher’s regime, the lad’s set about fixing up a country house in Derbyshire for crooked businessman, Ally Frazer. A scene from Series 2, episode 8 called “Marjorie doesn’t live here anymore” shows separated father Oz (Jimmy Nail) attend his estranged son’s U10 football match on the school field. Unfortunately for Oz, his son’s stepdad, Sandro from Milano is also in attendance and says; “In England always long ball. Running, Running, Running... Peh, peh, peh... You look at these boys, they 8, 9, 10 years old, all they do is play on a grown up field... It’s too big, all they learn about is space … Running, running, running. In Italy they play 26 on the streets, they play on the pitch, they learn to pass it, they learn to control it, and they learn to hold the ball...” I remember that, 9 years old playing on a full sized pitch, in full sized goals with a size 5 ball. Fucking mental, it was. If the ball was in the midfield, it would stay there for a good few minutes. If your ‘keeper caught the ball the coach/teacher would shout “Boot it out”. If a 50/50 was happening I remember shouts of “Do him”. The leather Mitre Delta size 5 ball was far too big for 8 year olds and if you did manage to get a shot on target it was either too weak due to the weight of the ball or definitely in due to a 3ft 6inch, 8 year old ‘keeper unable to navigate his way around a full size goal. You can see it now throughout English football. The coaching and development our 25 year old + players received was sub-standard and based around pace and power alone. Something had to change, and slowly but surely it is. Look at Michael Owen as an example; he had unbelievable pace as a youth which allowed him to stand out and flourish, however when that pace evaporated he was incapable of playing at the highest level. Poor touch, movement of an amateur and lacked any ability to bring others into play. My son plays U8 football and the rules and set-up is infinitely better for children’s development now compared to 20 years ago. They play on a pitch that is 40 x 30 (yards) and with goalpost’s 12ft x 6ft with a size 3 ball. We played on a pitch 110 x 70 Yards and with goalpost’s 24ft x 8ft with a size 5 ball. Smaller pitches encourage more on touch, control and passing and less emphasis on “running, running, running”. The English FA have fallen in line with other Football Associations to aid the development of our kids and give them more of a chance to grow gradually. They’re also looking at introducing a retreat line, to encourage ‘keepers to play it out from the back rather than boot it up, cutting out the defence and midfield and hoping the fast, tall striker can do something with it. This season it is mandatory for U7’s to play 5-a-side and for the 2014/2015 season it’ll be mandatory for both U7 and U8’s to play on a 5- bridge the gap and give our next generation the chance to achieve. As a Newcastle United follower I’ve been deprived of enjoyment with professional football for the best part of my life and over the last 2 years have found solace in watching the development of our junior side. If you’re watching your child’s game replace the shout of “You should’ve done ....” to “Well done”. We need our next generation to enjoy the sport and not have adults living their dream through an 8 year old child. When my son asks “Why does Mike Williamson keep kicking it over Cabaye’s head to Cisse?” I struggle to give an appropriate answer other than discuss the coaching he received as a youth and the coaching he is receiving now. I imagine going back 30 years; Oz’s son would’ve loved Mike Williamson’s no nonsense approach. Fortunately, our youth of today realise it’s not the way the game should be played. We have the talent. There’s no question about it. 27 a-side pitch. Again, encouraging more touches and time on the ball. I see U8’s struggling with the 7a-side pitch dimensions still, so how we performed on an 11-a-side pitch is a mystery. We coped. We didn’t flourish. We’re miles behind Spain and other countries when it comes to developing talent, but this can only get better with the introduction of ‘Mini-Soccer’. I witness a lot of the aims of ‘Mini Soccer’ being undone every week with coaches shouting at 7 year old children, a win at all costs attitude and the worst thing ever heard to a junior of “What was that?” and “What you doing, man?” cropping up occasionally. Fortunately I’ve allowed my son to play for a club with the right attitude on development and a ‘Play with a smile’ ethos. I hear people say “We don’t have the talent in this country”, which is total shit. We do have the talent. We’ve always had the talent, but we don’t allow it to flourish in the right environment. It’ll take a long time to reach the standards of Spain, Germany, Brazil and Argentina on the National stage, but at a junior level we can help