Posted: February 18th 2017
It's a question I've encountered loads of times…
"What if you don't make it?"
I remember my childhood hero, Shaun Chapple, mixing cement
outside his house opposite mine. Shaun was a Swans youth player
at the time, so I asked my old man Buzz " What's Shaun doing
"Ronnie (Shaun's Dad) is teaching him a lesson son."
"What lesson is that Dad?" I said.
"He may need something to fall back on if he doesn't make it.
Ronnie's a bricklayer, so he's probably teaching Shaun another
skill he can use to get work"
Ah right, I thought.
Funnily enough. I ended up working for about 6 months as a
Bricklayers’ labourer myself. Mixing cement for Buzz's two
mates 'Zagalo' (named after the great Brazilian player and
Coach) and Walter.
(The boys on the site called them 'The Hillbillies')
ANYWAY.. although the 'Hillbillies' were great, the job of mixing
cement and stacking bricks bored me senseless.
It helped me realise I wanted to do something that excited
me - coaching!
But for the young player making his way in the game...
It can be harder than the choice I had - boredom or excitement.
For them, it can be the other way around...
Excitement v boredom.
AKA - Football v school / job other than Football?
And what gets missed, in my opinion, is that it doesn't have to
be a career choice between 'burning your ships' so it's do or die,
or half-heartedly ‘hedging your bets’ in case the worse
It’s a crying shame because there’s a big wide world out there
FULL of possibilities for EVERY wannabe player.
And here’s the big ‘lightbulb moment’ I want ALL aspiring players to
Developing yourself on the pitch, can help you play better ON it.
Here’s the BIG secret…
SKILLS are transferable.
As one of my mentors said “Everything is an example of something
The brain is a pattern-recognition device that allows you to take
‘patterns’ from one context and apply them in another.
“Football is a game which requires players to solve problems
quickly. If a boy is studying maths, he has to problem solve. If he
gets better at doing that in the classroom, we believe he’ll be better
at doing it on the pitch.”
Said Matt Hale, Director of Southampton FC’s industry-leading
Academy, said in a recent 4-4-2 magazine interview.
Brilliant. A Club that truly ‘gets it’.
That doesn’t mean every players needs to be an academic genius.
It’s not just Maths, but a whole host of transferrable life skills we’re
talking about here.
· Managing Time
· Managing emotions
· Communication Skills
· Decision-making (under pressure)
· Know How To Look After Your Body
You need all of these, and a few more, to be successful both on
and off the pitch (in any walk of life). And especially in the modern world
Yet few young players are developing them.
And THAT’s why they find themselves in a sink-or-swim scenario.
Not because ‘the chances of making it are slim’.
Have a great weekend
PS - I want to be clear on this because I don't want anyone getting
the wrong end of the stick:
If you want to be the absolute best you can be at anything, you
need to devote yourself to it...whether that is Football or anything
A lot of families of aspiring players struggle juggling the demands
of Football and 'other important things' in life. It's not always easy, that's
for sure. Here's something to think about though...
Roberto Martinez said studying for a degree while training full-time
In Football allowed him to switch off completely from one to the other,
Which he found helpful. Rugby players are much more into this 'culture'
And even the Football-obsessed ‘Fergie’ had his distractions…
Imagine the difference in Paul Gascoigne (AKA Gazza) if he could
have found more 'healthy distractions' outside Football?
Some players require more stimulation…therefore balancing other
interests with Football can work great. They can even feed each other.