Understand the Game of Football


Sport has always been an entertaining and exciting activity for children. To promote different sports in India, many clubs, associations and groups have come together and set up training facilities. In fact, a lot of clubs also bring international players to India to give their club an edge. Recently, two ex-Chelsea players--Keith Dublin and Michael Gilkes--were in Mumbai to train kids in football. The camp was organised by the Indian Tigers Football Academy (ITFA), which aims at enhancing the quality of the game played on Indian turf.
As we met school children playing on the ground, we realised that most of them are not just interested in the game. Instead, they know their facts and figures and are attuned to international football too. Sahil Sharma, a 10-year-old says, "I never miss a single football match when my favourite teams are playing. I learn from every match." That got us thinking, what do children need to know about football?
We spoke to ex-Chelsea player Keith Dublin to get our queries sorted out. Said he, "It's very important for a child to understand the way the game has to be played. More than kicking the ball, the game is about learning about discipline on the field. One shouldn't get aggressive or lose his/her temper. More importantly, one has to be taught how to deal with pressure. The one thing that has amazed me about the line-up we have here is the number of girls on the team. It's amazing!"

The Chelsea duo touring Mumbai have come here with an agenda to enlighten and brighten the prospects of Mumbai's young football players.

Sherley Joseph, CEO of ITFA says, "Our main aim with this workshop was to sharpen the skill sets on the ground. One has to know the right techniques to face challenges on the field." Last year, the club had roped in other ex-Chelsea players like Gareth Hall, David Lee and Colin Pates to train kids.

The training was divided into two categories - junior and senior. The juniors were taught the basics of football. 6-year-old Rony Choudhury from Bombay Scottish School says, "I enjoyed dribbling and learnt a lot of basic shots. Every move shown to us came with advice, which made it an enriching experience."

Farzan Kamdin, a 13-year-old from Lilavati Podar High School says, "This is my second camp and I thoroughly enjoy every camp." When asked about what he learnt, Farzan says, "I learnt how to respect every member on the team. Apart from playing the game, it's very important to be united as a team. That keeps the spirit high. Even when we start losing a match, it's our spirit and motivation that keeps us going to the very end."

Michael Gilkes, the other ex-Chelsea player who is also in Mumbai says, "We have taken the initiative to coach trainers from different schools across Mumbai in the new techniques of training. Hopefully this will help improve the children's game. We have decided to come back after a few months and train the coaches and children with newer methods."

At the end of the session, Keith pointed out that, "One must have the right attitude to play the game. You can lose the game today but you should be convinced that you gave your best and be satisfied about the match." Michael added, "This can be only be fulfilled by hard training sessions which will ingrain these qualities among children."


TIPS FOR BASIC SKILLS  (by Michael Gilkes)

- Listen carefully and learn to accept your mistakes and improve on your negatives.

- You must have the practical sense and the ability to take the right decision on the field.

- Remember, you work as a team. So respect all your team members.

- Matches are always aggressive, learn to control your emotions.

-Ensure you learn to control the ball, kick, head, tackle, dribble, pass and keep goal, no matter what your position is on the field.

- There are many factors which influence the pace at which one performs on the field. They include reflexes, tactics, agility and so on. Playing at a high pace is increasingly important at the more competitive levels. An effective speed training programme must incorporate realistic aspects from the game. It is important to practise rapid change of direction, acceleration and above all, speed with the ball.

- The more power your body can output, the faster you can run. Therefore, if your muscles are weak you won’t be able to run very fast. To increase your strength and power, you need to stress your muscles beyond their maximum capacity. As a result, your body will "overcompensate” by developing stronger and bigger muscles. Having well-developed musculature also decreases the likelihood of injury.

- You need good flexibility, without which your form will suffer, your stride will be shorter and you’ll be at higher risk of injury. Poor flexibility also increases the effects of fatigue.