“Surely the secret of Lionel Messi is, as footballing philosopher Jorge Valdano argues, that he is the perfect synthesis of the Barcelona academy and old fashioned Argentine street football.”
This line in a recent article by Tim Vickery in the Botafogo Star sums up the challenge of developing creative players in much of the developed world today. Young players need to spend time with the ball in unstructured training environments to become truly creative.
Jorge Valdano certainly knows what he is talking about.
He was the starting forward for Argentina when it won the FIFA World Cup in Mexico in 1986 before later becoming sporting director for Real Madrid.
In Mexico Valdono had a ringside seat to view one of the most compelling individual performances at a FIFA World Cup, delivered by the player who best encapsulated the power of street football – the legendary Diego Armando Maradona.
We discussed the importance of play or unstructured football in a Top Flight blog entry recently. Certainly, based on the views of Vickery, the lack of players fusing academy training with informal activity is not limited to the likes of New Zealand but also the big South American and European powerhouses of the game.
Vickery discusses the changes in Brazilian youth development as a key reason why the national team has declined in quality over recent years – best summed up by the 7-1 toweling by Germany at the semi-final stage last year.
The importance of unstructured football is that it delivers inspiration and creativity that is not easily taught in a formal training environment. This type of learning provides young players with the flair that can make all the difference to their prospects and, more importantly, love of the game.
Play is something that we need to encourage all young players to do for them to reach their full potential.
Knocking the ball against the wall at home, watching how it spins when hitting the ground, learning new tricks, juggling and games with mates where players can try moves and passes are just some of the types of play that can make a big difference.
To read the full article by Tim Vickery please visit:
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