Tuesday, 22 February 2011

American Foot(hand)ball

Picture this… an early start on a Saturday morning for the monthly Little Kickers Masterclass at the Fulham Brunswick club, followed by a frantic rush to make kick off for what proved to be a tiring Football match in the swirling wind. To then be woken up on Sunday morning bright and early by the alarm so I could travel to South Wales to see our new franchisees in Pontypridd. Needless to say, it was a long and tiring weekend!

The only reason I even mention my busy weekend was purely because I had planned to keep my eyes open for a rare viewing of American Football - to watch the final of the Superbowl. I tried my best, and managed to stay up until half time. In what proved to be a thrilling game, it was interesting to see the intensity of the sport. With my last blog in mind, it was interesting to see the way in which the players were glamorised as super-stars, there almost seemed no link between a “typical” American and these highly paid American Football ‘gods.’ – I am still trying to find the reason it’s called Football, as there doesn’t seem a lot of foot action at all!

American Football is a million miles away from English Football. For example, the ‘coin toss ceremony’ took over 10 minutes to complete, I still remember the days when the ref would forget his coin and you’d have to pick the hand with the blade of grass in! I was watching the Superbowl match with a few friends, and at times we were laughing about how over the top we thought some of the commentary and displays were. It was quite funny; however, this is what I love about Sport. It’s so diverse, and yet it brings so many people together. I have never seen an American Football match before last years’ Superbowl, but I have a feeling it is going to become an annual event for me now.

Sport as a whole has always brought people together, rivalry has sometimes driven people apart, but the positives clearly outweigh the negatives. Sport gives elite players a route into professionalism, it gives regular players a chance to keep fit and meet new people, and for fans, sport gives a social identity and a level of escapism.

I love it, and by the fact that you are even reading this blog, I can say with some confidence that you do too. What ever your reason for being involved in sport, being a player or a fan, I hope you enjoy Little Kickers.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Super players are fantastic but their wages are atrocious!

Sitting in my office in my new house, I found myself tuning into Sky Sports to find out the latest on the Premier League’s notoriously busy transfer deadline day. Fernando Torres is reportedly worth £50 million. Yes. £50 million!!

I understand that the money isn’t “real” within football, as outrageous sums of money change hands within the game and it stays in the industry. However there’s no denying that a lot of money graces the palms of the players, and greases the palms of the agents. Some of the figures that come out of the sport are laughable. I can barely imagine someone paying £50 for my services as a footballer, let alone £50 million!

I can’t help feeing that sometimes the real passion for the game runs the risk of being usurped by the money, glamour and publicity which nowadays seem to go hand-in-in hand with the professional sport. Are we risking losing the true passion of the game, thanks to elevated salaries and negative publicity surrounding footballers’ “lifestyles”? Remember, football is a game, a pastime, a hobby, a form of escapism for some: it was even reportedly played between enemy soldiers to celebrate Christmas. Football has long been a significant characteristic of the English nation, which has produced many great players and consistently delivers one of the best and most competitive leagues in the world.

With all this money within the game, and the business that goes on behind the scenes, it does worry me that the heart and soul of football runs the risk of being lost. The glamorous lifestyles and scandalous antics of players and teams is fast becoming more important than the game itself. I remember the way my Mum used to talk about Bobby Charlton – she made him seem so down-to-earth that you could imagine walking into a pub and sitting down and having a chat with him. The sport always used to have an image of accessibility, which was encouraged by people in the industry. Now it appears that there’s been a dramatic shift in the other direction, and that the players and teams are portrayed as heroes, and given almost God-like status, thus rendering all the players quite inaccessible to us mere mortals. In my opinion, this can only have a negative effect on young kids entering the sport - why would a young boy or girl be enthusiastic about getting involved in a sport where they cannot relate to anybody that plays it?

I hope we at Little Kickers can go some way in changing the face of football, and keeping the enjoyment and motivation within our own classes. With the FA now promising a great shift in terms of grass roots football, which we’re proud to have been asked to get involved in, we can assure you we will be doing everything we can to keep planting, and nurturing, the seeds.
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