Art and Culture Kushay's Matter Bank

[AK] What Makes a Country Good at Football

This note will briefly discuss good football programs implemented by several countries. Source:

List of country’s investment in football:

1. Uruguay: Initiate “Baby Football” program, which is a government-sponsored initiative to train children’s in age 4-13. Luis Suárez and Edison Havana are one of the alumni

2. China: Build 20,000 new training centers, to go with the world’s biggest academy in Guangzhou, which cost US$185m

3. Saudi Arabia: paying to send the Spanish league nine players.

Factors influencing how good a country is in football:

1. Country’s GDP (in Senegal, coaches have to deworm and feed some players before they can train them)

2. Percentage of athletes to population overall, signals public participation.

3. Google searches of football related to other sports (Football got 90% of Africa’s attention compared with 20% in America and just 10% in cricket-loving South Asia), signals enthusiasm

Sometimes all these are beyond the control of football administrators. Nonetheless, officials with dreams of winning the World Cup can learn three lessons:

1. Encourage children to develop creatively. Relentless drilling “loses the rough edges that make geniuses”. The trick is not just to get lots of children playing, but also to let them develop creatively. In many countries they do so by teaching themselves.

e.g. Futsal, a five-a-side game with a small ball requiring nifty technique, and exercises involving a robotic cage that flings balls from various angles for a player to control and pass.
Stop talented teenagers from falling through the cracks.
The DFB (German football association) realized that many talents had been overlooked by club scouts, so it set up 360 extra regional centers for those who missed the cut.

When Russia bid to host this year’s tournament in 2010, Russian football officials implored their then-bosses to create a nationwide scouting program, to no avail. The Russian team has declined since then, failing to win a game at the European Championship in 2016. Russia now has one of the World Cup’s oldest squads.

2. Make the most of football’s vast global network.

3. Continuation from point 2, but export your players to big football clubs! Also, find coaches from abroad. A lot of the world’s most famous players comes from big clubs that has the most access to funding and coaching.

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