by Coach Gianni Mininni
Playing soccer is fun. But I don’t agreed when we continue to put a lot of emphasis on having fun. Soccer is clearly a game and consequently is fun by itself, otherwise, it would not be a game!
But it’s not only about having fun.
Soccer is something that was able to survive through the centuries, if not through the millenniums, and just reducing it to the one expedient of having fun, is deeply reductive!
I believe that one of the duties of coaches is to transmit the inheritance that we received to the next generation.
As I said, to play soccer is already fun by itself and there isn’t any reason to make it more fun. Instead, lets try to transmit the magic of the game by underlining that this game survived through a few world wars and was one of the things that helped human kind to overcome that horror. If you’ve read a few testimonials in the past issues, you have read how a few players, and consequently their generations that are now 70 years old, find a way to remember that they were kids, thanks to the distraction of soccer! It was their refuge.
In the last few millenniums, wars were stopped to play the Olympic Games. More recently, soldiers in the trenches, after having shot at each other with the intention to kill the whole year, at Christmas, came out spontaneously from the trenches and familiarized, just playing soccer for more that one hour, forgetting that they were enemies and their only goal to be there was, in fact, to kill each other!
Soccer is part of the human civilization and relegating it to just a game is deeply reductive. As I underlined in other news letters, sooner or later we’ll all breath the same air and we will drink the same water. And because grass is basically air and water, sooner or later, all of today’s soccer players will step on the same grass where a long time ago USA defeated England (the inventor of modern soccer), where North and South Korea, after having killed each other for dozen of years, finally played together wearing the same jersey, where Iran and Iraq come together to play a game without fighting in the stands, where money is raised to help less fortunate countries, where comradeship and friendship reach their highest level, where racial problems are finally left behind, where youth players can challenge themselves to become the future ruling class of our Country!
Please, don’t misunderstand me. I’m the first to underline that soccer has to be fun, make it fun, play in a way that makes kids have fun, but please, explain to them that when they enter onto a soccer field, that piece of grass surrounded by a white chalk line is something deeply different than all the other pieces of grass! In that rectangle of grass, the greatest players have done their magic and, by stepping onto the field, it’s like playing with them! It’s an honor to step on the same grass, on the same field and, even if sometimes we can laugh at something funny that has happened, it is not normal to constantly laugh over and over, as if the all idea is reduced to constantly saying something funny to make the others laugh and never, ever, remember that stepping onto a soccer field is something more profound and involves respect for the beautiful game that they inherited by stepping onto the field and wearing a soccer jersey.
In doing that, when they come onto the field to play a game, aside from having the deserved fun, they represent themselves, their teammates, their families, their schools, their coaches, and the jerseys that they wear are a kind of flag that represent all of this and all of them! So to reduce the fun of soccer to the same fun that they can have with a video game or by watching a teenager non-sense movie, I believe, is deeply wrong and, doing this, in a few dozen years, will make the magic of the past disappear.
If this happens, without all of us who have lived that magic, it will disappear forever.
So, we have the duty to make them understand that magic, by constantly reminding them what soccer is and was, by telling them the stories of the greatest games we have seen, the greatest players performances, maybe teach them their moves, challenge them to use them during the game, free their imagination in creating new moves that one day, other coaches, who may be some of these youth players, will teach their future youth players.
In conclusion, if having fun is reduced to just laughing because, very impolitely, someone keeps ‘burping‘ very loudly during practice, I believe that we will have a generation who will laugh for anything, almost not knowing why, anymore!