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The critical elements of keen youngsters, plenty of opportunities to play, can WALK to a pitch, often small-sided – 5v5, 7v7, rarely full-sided, and accessible to any child.  Players control their environment, not adults. 

Often the pitches are asphalt or tarmac.  This encourages skillful play.  How often do you slide tackle on a hard surface?  

A famous quote by one of my mentors, Dettmar Cramer- “When the ball  bounces, it’s the melody of beginners.” So it encourages skillful play, controlling the ball on the ground.  

Why is it the best players come from Latin countries?  They grew up learning the game on hard surfaces – Pele, Maradona,  DiStefano, Didi, Garrincha, Messi, etc.

We need more places like (pictured) in the USA.  The importance of access and ease for youngsters to get to a pitch, especially for children.  If parents have to drive their youngsters to a field, the players lose out from a soccer experience.  

One of the critical learning moments is the discussions/arguments between players on the journey to and from these fields.

The fewer adults are involved, the better both for the parent and the players. 

Graham Ramsay

Executive Director, The Soccer School (est. 1969) 


I will disagree a little bit or perhaps suggest another reason, my friend.  Although I played on hard surfaces and challenging situations, it was not this that differentiated or influenced good players. 

From my experience and observations, skillful players became that way by playing against older players in these environments. 

The age play was vertical, not horizontal (pure age).  Today players play 8-year-olds with 8-year-olds, 9-year-olds with 9- year-olds, etc. 

When growing up, I played in pick-up games at 10 years old with and against 14s 15s.  When I was 12 years old, I was on the field with guys 20 plus and my dad. 

In a number of the Latino pick-up games, I see skilled 11 yr olds playing with his older brother and dad, grass or not, and that seems to be more of an influencing factor. 

 I believe the vertical play in age group allows a younger player to learn in real-time from an older player “institutional knowledge,” as we say in business.  In real-time, modeling and mentoring are very meaningful and should not be dismissed as a probable cause for quality in less organized play.  

Again, just my observations and formulated opinion. 

All the best! 

Jan Eric Nordmo

Arena Soccer Facility Owner Sports Facility and Program Developer Soccer Coaching Professional Instructor Property Developer, and Entrepreneur


Koach Karl’s Notes

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Koach Karl (Karl Dewazien)

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