“Play Station culture is killing the English game” and “X-box Culture is Killing Football”, two quotes, one from Rob Green, one from Harry Redknapp, essentially saying the same thing.
And it’s been a recurring theme for Harry Redknapp in his defence to bringing in foreign talent.
Unfortunately, not only do I disagree completely, but I also think that the problem in recent times has not been the young players, but the older generation.
I Played football for my local club since I was 8, eventually giving up (not my choice) at the age of 16. During this time, my team won the Surrey Primary League, the Surrey plate, and about 8 summer 5-a-side tournaments (4 of which in one year!). For myself, I picked up the managers award 3 years running, then the “players player” award. I literally eat, sleep, and breathe football, and didn’t ever support a football team until I was 15 – as all my time was taken PLAYING football.
The rest of my team is very similar to me, we trained 2 nights a week, Saturdays and Thursdays, and played on Sundays – we were committed, and we were successful. Our league winning side went unbeaten for well over half a season – and we only lost games through bad luck. The club I have played for, despite having over 500 members, and at least 2 teams in each age group, is widely regarded as one of, if not the best club in Surrey – and yet, it has never (that I am aware of) ever turned out one professional player (maybe feeder leagues). Every Sunday, without fail, 13 players would turn up, and play good football – normally win, for us – against another 13 players that changed every week. With so many teams playing at youth level in football.
The problem is, there IS no team in Surrey. There are conference teams in Aldershot and Woking, but that is nothing. Hampshire has 2 good teams – although only one had an academy when I was playing football. Playing for my club every week, when I was 11, I believed that one day, I would play for England? then when I was 14, I though maybe the premiership. Then, when I was 15, I thought maybe the championship. Then, 16, I thought “are these guys real??? How come I don’t know anyone to have even been so much as “scouted” for a team?”
Anyway, enough of my personal experiences, as I am (probably) not alone in my experiences.
In 2005, there were 7 million people involved in grassroots football, including 500,000 volunteers – playing at 37,500 clubs. And an additional 5 million children involved in school teams. Now, I may be bad at maths, but that equates to AT LEAST 5 million children involved in football in 2005, and I am assured that the figures have since gone up! Not what you would call a “lack of choice” then Harry – or Rob Green for that matter!
Earlier this season, Harry wrote in his column “The English working class is turning its back on football – and that is not my fault. It may sound old and corny but when I was growing up, working class lads like me in the east end lived and breathed football.” Now, it may sound corny Harry, but up until I realised there was no chance of me ever getting picked, due to a lack of scouting in our area, I truly did live and breathe football. Harry also said that when he was 16, he had an understanding of football at the time. Well, yes Harry, I can name all 4 of Spurs main strikers, and ideal Manchester united XI, and the entire Chelsea Premiership winning team of 2 years ago – and I didn’t even follow football back then!
I have since met a football scout, for Reading football club – albeit at a child protection workshop – where it was revealed that it was frowned upon for scouts to look for home grown talent further than a 2 hour drive from the clubs training fields, as it is “too much to expect of young kids travel that far”. And he admitted to never having been to the club before having to take the child protection workshop.
Now, to my (?possibly biased) mind, all this goes directly against what Harry Redknapp and Rob Green have been saying. There would appear to be no shortage in young players, no shortage in enthusiasm, only a shortage of premiership players, clubs, and scouts going out there, and inspiring young players to do better. Not once have I met anyone notable – not once, and they expect me to believe that children of today are not willing to move away from there play stations and X-boxes?
More likely, premiership clubs are too lazy to come and get us. So if it is true, Harry, that you want young players with talent and enthusiasm, email me at email@example.com. If not, then please stop saying that we are obsessed with X-boxes.
Written by pompeycarpet.
The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.
To join the Vital Pompey debate – in the forum or with comments on articles – simply take a few seconds to register an account.