Well it’s painful to even think about but it’s official, the Germans are the world’s best. For your oiled soccer fan this really shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Germany was the best team and deserved to finally lift the elusive trophy. Although I’m not going to lie, I always do love to see Schweinsteiger cry.
But seriously, all jokes aside, German football is reaping the rewards from a strategy drawn up after an embarrassing Euro 2000 performance. Collectively, and that is a key word here, the Germans refurbished their youth football system. The president of the German Football Association was sacked and the Bundesliga and the clubs collectively made the brash and smart move to focus on the development of more technically proficient homegrown players. As a result academies were created right across the top two divisions.
The fruits are there for all to see. Joachim Löw, Germany’s coach, is blessed with a generation of gifted young players – Julian Draxler (20), Andre Schürrle (23) , Sven Bender (25), Thomas Müller (24), Holger Badstuber (25), Mats Hummels (25), Mesut Ozil (25), Ilkay Gundogan (23), Mario Götze (22), Marco Reus (25), Toni Kroos (24)
I know it’s completely unrealistic to even put Canadian soccer in the same sentence as the Germans but I am. The Germans had a plan to fix their nations system and they executed it in a mere 14 years. Good old German efficiency. Belgium did the same too, just saying.
Currently Canada doesn’t even stand a chance at putting an effective and functioning system in place because it is the system itself that is broken. The problems are so deep rooted I don’t even know where to start. In short, no one works together. The provincial bodies and the CSA sure as hell don’t, nor do the MLS teams. Even private enterprises in our country like Total Soccer are segregated to their own little corner.
The whole system needs to be overhauled for us to even stand a chance. The problem is people’s jobs and livelihoods would be affected; this is one of the determining factors related to a lack of action. Individuals want to look out for their own self-interests. So here we are stuck with a broken soccer system and a Fifa ranking of 113th. Oh wait, sorry I have to apologize, we’ve slipped to 118th! This makes Canada the 12th seeded team in CONCACAF.
So where do we go from here?
If the system is utterly broken and no one works together on a structural level, then it first starts with a conversation, perhaps centered on coach education. That’s exactly why Play Better is hosting monthly meet up groups.
It also starts with high level coaches educating individuals on the field. Again, exactly why Play Better has been running coaching sessions with the highly knowledgeable Martin Rennie.
The teams and clubs that have started the Play Better program will start seeing massive developmental results in their players. Overtime this will become clearer to other teams and clubs. When a Play Better team keeps the ball the whole game because they have changed the rewards system for a win-at-all-cost mentality – to a developmental metric such as passing, even your average soccer mom will notice something is up. “Hey this game is starting to look like what I watch on TV? It’s not just a pack of kids kicking the ball towards a big goal.”
Newsflash, Play Better will grow organically because it really does work.
What we will end up seeing are small pockets of players who have learned how to play soccer the right way. When young players begin playing soccer properly at a young age the result are staggering. It doesn’t even take a large population, or pool of players to achieve this. For example, Uruguay has a mere 3 million people but they know how to develop players. Some of the best teams at the recent world cup have tiny populations.
Costa Rica 4,667,096
Years ago I played metro in North Vancouver and I will never forget when we went up to Squamish and played their gold team. In my age group we heard that Squamish had an incredibly strong side. At the time no one had really ever even thought about them. I remember going up there and narrowly beating them. It was immediately clear that something was going on in that town. What had happened was they had a coach who really knew what he was doing. He personally developed a plethora of young talent at my age group.
The following year four players from that same Squamish side walked into our metro team’s starting lineup. What’s more, two of those players ended up starting for our B.C team. It was, and still is today, a perfect example of grassroots player development.
Play Better is going to change our current soccer landscape, from the bottom up, and overtime we will start to see small pockets of success and players who understand how to play soccer properly. It will take time but you wait and see. I’m excited and you should be too.
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