Where Did IT Go Wrong (Part 1)


Got a bit of bug up my wazoo about something! My son!

It’s all about his Xbox, his iPhone, and his girlfriend (too good for him) and ever so significantly, his look – his hair (pride and joy), his branded clothes (Adidas, Nike etc.) In one word, DISTRACTIONS!! Everything else pales into insignificance to the above.

What about his studies, and not forgetting his football. We all know what Bill Shankly said on this subject: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”

My son is a good footballer, not quite professional level, but certainly top 15% I’d say. He could be better, as we all could. I coached him for a number of years – teaching him the fundamentals. He developed consistently during that time, but last season he stopped practicing and exercising with me regularly (see distractions above, thought he’d learned enough). Yeah, right!

I told him about the 10,000 hour rule. You may have heard of it. This rule states that: To be an expert at anything you have to put in at least 10,000 hours of work to attain expert status. This fell on deaf ears. His progress had stalled! Unfortunately the passion and attitude for it isn’t there – essential traits needed for success.

As an example, his team played a regional cup game against 1st Division opposition recently and won comfortably. But, you’d have thought by the team’s reaction after the game that it had been a kick about in the park? If that had been me I’d have been ecstatic, buzzing for hours afterwards.

Ah, the good old days when life was simple: no distractions – it was all about football, morning, noon and night. Playing in the street get “Get yer coats doon for goal posts!” Let’s play “Rushie Three and in” or have a 15 a side game lasting 3 hours! Only ending for your lunch, dinner or bedtime. We all had the passion for it. We all dreamt about playing for our team in that Cup Final and scoring the winning goal.

I played for my school team on a Wednesday and trained on a Tuesday. I played for my club team on a Saturday and trained on a Thursday. Football, football and not forgetting Football! I wasn’t bad either, played for my County. But I lacked one important ingredient – confidence. I had ability, but lacked the right attitude, the right state of mind. With the right coaching; the skills and mental attitude can be nurtured and developed successfully.

My son is now experiencing this with his current team, being coached in a completely professional way. And it’s reaping benefits – beating a number of 1st division teams, and the current Division 2 leaders comfortably in their progress to the quarter final stages of 2 cup competitions.

Football in Scotland can develop successfully again, but differently from my day when it just happened as a consequence of existing – all we had was football (it was a numbers game then in terms of kids playing football, and in terms of all the hours they invested in it). Scotland couldn’t fail to produce quality footballers and teams in the 60’s and 70’s, while regularly competing in International competitions.

We live in different times now. As I’ve already stated above, football has been relegated in terms of its interest to kids – the major distractions of technology and social media have superseded football as a pastime.  From my own experience with my son playing football since the age of 5, large number of kids are playing for teams until they are about 12 or 13, but then we see a sharp drop in the numbers playing the game – they are lost to the aforementioned distractions.

As a consequence, a different approach to developing football in our nation is needed in terms of the resources required to develop football and much more intelligent and sophisticated ways to engage children early enough and keep them passionate about playing the great sport of football.

Think it’s time to have a breather here. I’ll continue this theme in my next blog. Talk soon.

Oh, and please check out System X2 @ http://www.systemx2.co.uk if you’re looking to have fun predicting footie results!



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