Why eight-year-olds fall in love with football

Stuart Thomas Columnist

By Stuart Thomas, Stuart Thomas is a Roar Expert

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    For some reason, sports like to label themselves. Spin doctors construct sexy catchphrases in an attempt, I think, to convince themselves and the rest of the planet that they are indeed the most watchable and purest game.

    Rugby league has labelled itself the greatest game of all, union has tried to convince us for generations that the game is played in heaven, just not in Western Australia, and the slick marketing of the AFL has seen their campaign vary immensely over the years.

    In the United States, the PGA has claimed, ‘these guys are good’ and the NBA have used the rather inclusive, ‘this is why we play’ and ‘where magic happens’, to emotionally connect their stars to the public.

    Football might just have grabbed the purest and best of them all when ‘the beautiful game’ was popularised by Pele. True ownership of the term is a little hazy yet I can see why it has caused such angst among followers of the other codes in Australia.

    ‘Frrrmpppffff’, they say. ‘How dare they call their game the beautiful one?’ They cite the magnificence of a rugby league immortal, the wizardry of a rugby legend or the grace, courage and elegance of the AFL warriors who perform superhuman feats each week.

    And you know what? They are correct. There is beauty in all and feeling that football is claiming beauty as its own is shortsighted.

    Just like it would be idiotic to suggest that rugby’s use of a religious reference in their slogan, somehow implies that everyone else is a pagan, unworthy of God’s kingdom and the privilege of playing rugby while up there.

    These things aren’t mutually exclusive. However, there is something uniquely beautiful about football that is difficult to capture succinctly in words.

    Lionel Messi FC Barcelona Football 2017

    (Photo by Joan Cros Garcia/Corbis via Getty Images)

    For generations we have heard words like poetry, artistry and sublime and they are all apt. It appears to me that an extrapolation of these words might reveal the origins of the passion that burns in youngsters when first exposed to the game.

    Simply put, kids seem to flourish in the safe environment provided by football at a very young age. The pack that forms as little toddlers chase a ball in open spaces looks like fun from the sidelines and it’s hard not to smile.

    Sure the skill level is a little low, that comes later, yet I regularly see kids turning to football after restricted involvement in other sports. In multiple conversions struck up on the sidelines, parents express the disappointment their child felt in a previous sporting involvement and how this led to their decision to ‘give football a go.’

    This is a wonderful thing for the game and potentially at the heart of the massive participation numbers. However, there must be more to it than just a few disgruntled kids who hated being tackled or rarely touched a ball.

    To me, football will always be the rawest of games. Seeing images of ad hoc matches from different places around the world, played in extraordinary circumstances and conditions, always reminds me of how basic and primal the game actually is.

    Images of kids in the Middle East playing matches on vacant blocks littered with glass, wire and bricks are vivid for me, as my wife’s heritage stems from that part of the world.

    Contrastingly, the sight of a young English lad dribbling a ball along a lane-way of terraced housing, thumping the odd shot at the wall as his mother calls him in for his Yorkshire pudding, produces the same romantic notions of the game.

    The surge in African football is rooted in wild affairs with hundreds of kids, amid a chaotic high pitched din, chasing and controlly a roughly made sphere that will be lucky to survive until the final whistle.

    That sphere is at the heart of football. It is the simplicity of it. The sheer rudimentary and base equipment required and the straight forward skill set needed to compete.

    Baseball possesses the same core. Pick up a rock and throw it towards someone with a stick in their hands. They take a swing and make contact. Or throw that same rock to each other a few times. That’s the game.

    Much like the origins of football, where a parent and child trade kicks with the aforementioned sphere.

    Many other sports seem convoluted and contrived in comparison, burdened with extraordinarily expensive equipment and difficulty in becoming involved.

    In contrast, football will have kids hooked in the most simplistic of circumstances. Luckily for parents, a twenty dollar, good quality sphere will sustain that interest in the short term.

    We’ll talk another time about registration fees, academy membership and uniform costs which have become exorbitant. Although, sports such as golf, tennis and cricket would stack up as easily as expensive with football, when equipment costs are considered.

    There is a quantum leap from the young, football obsessed little tracker and the skill, artistry and wealth on display in the biggest leagues in the world. Yet perhaps that also lies at the heart of the magic in the game.

    Sydney FC fans Football A-League Grand Final 2017

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    There appears a clear comprehension in kids of a connection between what is happening on the screen in a Champions League final or a World Cup game and the basic skills required to perform.

    This ‘every man’ and more increasingly ‘every woman’ quality, permeates through football. A game that has and hopefully always will, lie with the people.

    While the elite traipse off to their yachts and polo fields, whenever Kings and Queens are engrossed by dressage competitions and breeding corgis, football will remain as something more basic and human.

    A simple game played by all. Height matters little, age is somewhat irrelevant and lesser talented players can still find their place. (My career in the backline is clear evidence of that.)

    “I’ve got this sphere here if you would like to have a kick”.

    “Sure, we could have a game.”

    “Yeah, your friends can play too.”

    I’ll play against you if you are gay, straight or somewhere in between. I would love to hear your refugee story at the end of the game and I will treat you with kindness and respect despite your disability.

    I’ll also buy you a beer after the game because I know you are struggling a bit and I don’t mind being nut-megged by a woman.

    The reason being, I am fan of the game of football. The beautiful game.

    Stuart Thomas
    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

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    The Crowd Says (72)

    • Roar Pro

      August 15th 2017 @ 5:45am
      The Doc said | August 15th 2017 @ 5:45am | ! Report

      Great read as always Stuart.

    • Roar Pro

      August 15th 2017 @ 6:16am
      George K said | August 15th 2017 @ 6:16am | ! Report

      This article is inspiring!

      I agree with the comment that football is a lot more simpler by comparison to other codes. One of the main reasons I started playing/watching the sport was because I found it a lot easier to grasp the rules when compared to AFL – looking back I realise I probably was ‘slow’ but football’s simplicity is probably one of its’ biggest assets,

      There is a world appeal with football of course and I think it’s interesting how video games like FIFA and Football Manager can entice younger players (however I would argue that football manager is probably less exciting at first).

      Overall, a great message we can all get behind 🙂

    • August 15th 2017 @ 6:34am
      Waz said | August 15th 2017 @ 6:34am | ! Report

      I am close to finishing my first season as an U6 Miniroos coach having previously only coached teenage boys and adults. The opposite end of the spectrum has been a delightful eye-opener as well as a genuine coaching challenge.

      When I received my 6-pack of Raptors in pre-season, only one had kicked a football regularly. I don’t know why the five others were there somehow the parents decided Football might be a good idea. One kid had Fijian parents, one German, one Latin American, the rest just your “standard” Aussies. And 3 boys/3 girls.

      They just wanted to have some fun, make some friends, and learn some soccer.

      On Tuesday nights I get to coach them once for the week. Our sessions are full of non-stop games played with a ball at the kids feet, traditional ‘Bulldog’ becomes tackling practice, ‘Pirate Ship’ becomes shooting practice, ‘Stuck in the Mud’ becomes teamwork and ball control, and ‘Chase the Fox’ well, that remains a massive chase game and I can’t get them to run with the ball. ever.

      Next door to our training pitch is the local rugby club, as our kids run around having fun I’ve observed the rugby training – normally with two or more coaches – doing the opposite; training seems more technical, the kids stand around listening to an adult bark instructions, and when the balls knocked on (which seems to be always) the play is re-set and 5 minutes wasted getting everyone back to their mark. It doesn’t look much fun (and I also love Rugby)

      So it’s easy to see why our football club counts our mini-Roos in the several 100’s while Rugby has tens and we’re just one of half a dozen clubs within a 5km radious while they are the only rugby club. Football is just fun. Even training is fun. And kids and parents become the best promoters of the game because they love it, and they tell everyone they know about it ? we just need more space do we can stop turning kids away next season.

      • August 15th 2017 @ 7:08am
        Buddy said | August 15th 2017 @ 7:08am | ! Report

        Waz, Did you run into any coaches who drill their kids and don’t subscribe to the “football is fun” doctrine? The coach that places a player in the goal even though there is no gk and tries to make them play in set positions in under sixes.
        Then there are “the parents” who just say and do all the wrong things…….. but this is not to be negative, just curious as to the level of enlightenment in Qld in 2017. Things have improved enormously in terms of attitude but there still remain a number who just don’t get it.
        I went back a few years ago and started coaching younger players who have now reached 14’s and there is a core still there, lost 3 to youth league and the remainder are a pretty successful div 1 side but still very much a team that has to enjoy playing and having fun or they don’t perform.

        • August 15th 2017 @ 9:58pm
          Waz said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:58pm | ! Report

          There’s still a bit of that going on. It’s less than say five years ago but still a few out there that miss the point.

      • August 15th 2017 @ 8:16am
        chris said | August 15th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

        Waz we definitely need more grounds and space. Not sure if local councils are listening to the demands of ratepayers.

      • August 15th 2017 @ 9:41am
        j,binnie said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        Waz- This is one of the best things you have written. It is exactly the way to “teach” six year olds as was pointed out to me when I did a coaching course back in 1974. The then Director of Coaching, a fully qualified teacher of education,described exactly what you have described , (less the fancy names for the skills teaching sections)
        His mantra was simple ,fun,fun,fun, with kids allowed to chase a ball willy- nilly around an enclosed space and when the little legs tired you sat them down and showed them the basics of how to pass, receive,and shoot. Then as the restlessness returned it was back to the fun,fun, fun, aspect of “training”.
        Did it work? Of course it did. Laughs were guaranteed.Come weekend and during a game there was always the incident when little Johnny ,interested in aircraft,suddenly stopped chasing a ball to watch the latest jumbo jet pass overhead. That didn’t label him a “failure” just a kid with more than one interest in life.
        Thanks for the memory. Cheers jb.
        ps- just this year when watching an under 11 game, I got into a discussion with a parent. With him in attendance we spoke to his youngster after the game when,with the knowledge of the father I asked the kid what he enjoyed most about playing football. The answer, (already supplied to the parent), scoring a goal or getting lots of kicks at the ball. Not a mention of winning the game or beating the other team. Cheers jb.

        • August 15th 2017 @ 9:59pm
          Waz said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

          Thanks jb. Good response too.

      • August 15th 2017 @ 9:52am
        Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

        Waz

        A trick I applied with young kids to teach ball control was to buy a heaps of those little mars bars… I would place the mars bar on a tennis ball and closest kick to the tennis ball got the mars bar and if you hit the tennis ball you got two mars bars…

        Like you we had names for everything and cartoon characters especially the Simpsons were popular at the time.

        Having fun was the key … but I note it does not change listen to League coaches at say U 18 to 25 level and listen to Football coaches … one set is saying let the ball do the work, show in space etc… the other is saying hurt em make em know your are their.

        • August 15th 2017 @ 11:06am
          Post_hoc said | August 15th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

          Coconut game, Place a ball on a cone (the small almost flat cones, contradiction in terms?) and get two kids to take a kick at the ball to try and kick the coconut out of the tree. Some kids learn quicker that the inside of the foot gives better control and from then on the other kids see this and replicate. The basics of passing.

          • August 15th 2017 @ 10:31pm
            Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 10:31pm | ! Report

            cone worked too.

    • August 15th 2017 @ 8:48am
      Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

      Just on the fun thing the following article from a US doctor will I think increase our playing numbers … don’t play collusion codes till U 18..

      http://www.kidspot.com.au/parenting/teenager/teen-behaviour/doctor-says-letting-kids-play-contact-sports-is-a-form-of-child-abuse/news-story/69906aa463eaaa4227bb1dc8f051f9f4?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=PPC_Outbrain&utm_campaign=parenting

      Doctor says letting kids play contact sports is a form of child abuse

      Kidspot Editor | August 14, 2017

      Renowned American neuropathologist says there’s no way to make kids under 18 safe from brain trauma when playing contact sports.50% of original size (was 1001×601) – Click to enlargeDoctor says letting kids play contact sports is a form of child abuse Around the country every weekend, the sound of kids playing contact sport rings across grassy ovals.For many parents on the sidelines it’s a good way for kids to learn about sportsmanship and it gets them outside. And so many kids love it.But one doctor is saying letting our kids play contact sport is akin to child abuse.Dr Bennet Omalu, is, in short, a concussion expert. The neuropathologist told an event in New York recently: “No child under the age of 18 in America today should play any of the high impact sports, high contact sports.”These include rugby, (American) football, boxing, ice hockey, mixed martial arts and wrestling.His reasoning is simply that it is not safe and there is no way to make it safer.”If you play football, and if your child plays football, there is a 100 percent risk exposure. There is nothing like making football safer. That’s a misnomer,” he said.

      Long-term head trauma

      He has found evidence that NFL players sustained long-term head trauma with declining mental capabilities, due to the sport.”It is the definition of child abuse. Someday there will be a district attorney who will prosecute for child abuse,” he said.In Australia rugby league and union are two of our biggest contact sports. According to Sports Medicine Australia between 2002-2003, 1,612 people were hospitalised around Australia for rugby league injuries. That’s an injury rate of 678 injured per 100,000.For rugby union, schoolboy injuries occurred at a rate of 16 injuries per 1,000 playing hours. At an elite level there was 43 injuries per 1,000 playing hours.Furthermore, 209,800 Australians aged 15 and older played rugby league and 165,300 played rugby union, according to Statistics from the Australian Sports Commission’s 2006 survey.

      “That study out of Boston simply reaffirmed something we have always known, that there is nothing like a safe blow to the head,” Omalu said.

      • August 15th 2017 @ 9:07am
        buddy said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

        There is also plenty of information coming out of the USA that heading the ball may well contribute to head trauma and there appears to be a lobby to change the rules for kids at least. If it was ever to be implemented across the board under the general banner of health and safety it would be an enormous game changer!

        • August 15th 2017 @ 9:36am
          Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

          agree buddy

        • August 15th 2017 @ 9:46am
          chris said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          I dont think not heading the ball would make a huge difference if it were in fact deemed potentially dangerous for kids. I’ve coached a lot of kids and very few actually head the ball. Girls are even less inclined to want to put their head on it.

          • August 15th 2017 @ 9:57am
            Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

            Chris

            I think heading to U 12 is essentially banned in Australia and maybe by FIFA world wide… studies have shown that a child’s brain is developing and knocks to the head no matter how small can have an effect…

          • August 15th 2017 @ 7:48pm
            northerner said | August 15th 2017 @ 7:48pm | ! Report

            From what I’ve read, the problem isn’t as simple as saying it’s all about concussion – apparently there’s evidence that sub-concussion hits can be equally dangerous. Apparently, soldiers being exposed to IEDs going off are at high risk too. It’s a very complicated subject with not a lot of strong evidence yet to say what the heck is the cause – except that head trauma of almost any kind is a risk factor.

            • August 15th 2017 @ 8:26pm
              Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

              northner

              true and studies from the US have reached a point that arguments ….could… be made that a club is knowingly risking a persons health.

              Me thinks within 10 years this could have a huge effect on the sports we engage in today.

              • August 15th 2017 @ 8:40pm
                northerner said | August 15th 2017 @ 8:40pm | ! Report

                Absolutely. Obviously, traditional sports like American (and Canadian) football, rugby, and ice hockey, not to mention boxing and MMA are high risk, but football (insofar as headers are concerned) also carries question marks. Easy enough to modify football for kids so they don’t use the head until they’re older, but much harder to modify the other sports.

              • August 15th 2017 @ 10:39pm
                Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 10:39pm | ! Report

                Northerner

                There is talk of banning heading the ball all together at all levels its very early days … however that the talk has started says a lot.

                Football taking out heading, cricket talking out bouncers are changers but the overall game is about the same, buy collision codes like Rugby Union, Rugby League, Hockey, Grid Iron, AFL, would find huge challenges to maintain their games basic structure and stop head contact.

              • August 16th 2017 @ 10:25am
                northerner said | August 16th 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

                There’s a reason why touch football (both the rugby and gridiron version) is a fast-growing sport both here and in North America.

      • Columnist

        August 15th 2017 @ 9:14am
        Stuart Thomas said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        Interesting Mid. Logical as well. I teach a handful of boys at the moment who are having major repercussions from massive head knocks experienced over twelve months ago. Becoming aware of the details and catastrophic effects of the injuries has changed the way I think about contact sport for little kids.

        The final years of schooling for some of these boys will be negatively impacted yet hopefully their work ethic and commitment to study gets them through.

        No wonder more and more kids are playing the beautiful game. My league career ended as a youngster when my mother began hearing comments from the opposition parents encouraging the boys to ‘kill’ me. That was enough for her.

        I was, however, one of the lucky ones, in that I never suffered a severe head trauma on the field. I few off-field mind you, but that’s another story.

        • August 15th 2017 @ 9:46am
          Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

          ST

          Tis amazing how skills developed in Football like space, side way movement, kicking etc can be transferred to many other sports.

          My league career was short and I ended even through at the time I was playing at a semi professional level, earning more playing than my weekly wage at the time…

          Got a very heavy head tackle, by a former Manly and Souths player, he layed me out and I had head aches and I felt dizzy for weeks leading to months… my Dad sat me down and said and said whats more important your studies and future career or league… made the choice and went back to Football,… have travelled the world to an extent with my career …US about 15 months over 3 stints, New Zealand almost 4 years, Fiji 14 months over 6 stints. … travelled Australia a lot as well…

    • August 15th 2017 @ 9:09am
      Onside said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      Until the age of about 11, kids have no periphial vision. Subsequently teams ‘swarm’.

      Parents scream out, ‘pass it, pass it’ to players with a kid running alongside them.

      But the kid with the ball cannot see the player alongside when looking straight ahead.

      In football , the round ball is on the ground , and by and large all kids gets a kick,
      sometimes in the right direction.

      In time kids get to learn to kick with both feet. An advantage of this skill is as they get
      older, and prefer to play any of the other codes, they have an instinctive advantage.

      There’s plenty of time for kids to choose a game like rugby, but very few finish their
      teenage years of playing rugby without experiencing the sharp side of a scalpel.

      Football is an ideal game for girls and young women. But sticking with kids for a
      moment, in early years of under age football, boys and girls play on the same team.

      It’s all good. It’s all sport. But in those early formative years, football is magic.

    • August 15th 2017 @ 9:10am
      Nemesis said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      There’s a reason football has been embraced by the whole planet. I’m talking football as a sport being played; forget the professional competitions that may, or may not, be watched.

      The sport is simple to play, albeit difficult to master.

      You don’t need fancy equipment.
      Heck, you don’t need any equipment.

      • August 15th 2017 @ 9:11am
        Nemesis said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:11am | ! Report

        At my private school at lunchtime all of us “soccer w0gs” would crush a can of drink (the drink was always bought by one of the Anglo kids, since w0g parents didn’t allow kids to buy lunch at school) &, in our tailored long trousers with button down shirts & ties we’d have lunchtime match.

        Always highly competitive &, I reckon, playing with the crushed can helped us improve our technique. If you can master the 1st touch, control, passing & shooting with a crushed can, playing with Size 5 football is easy.

        Eventually, our game got so popular, the Aussie Rules meatheads wanted to join us. They got bored with their inane “kick to kick”. We progressed from crushed can, to tennis ball, then to a ball slightly smaller than Size 3.

        It’s called the Beautiful Game because it simply is.

        • August 15th 2017 @ 9:33am
          Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          bingo, nail head, spot on cobber …

        • August 15th 2017 @ 10:23am
          Casper said | August 15th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

          Why wouldn’t you just bring a soccer ball from the start, rather than kicking a can around?

          It’s a cute story, but just like most stories from your past, total fabrication.

          • August 15th 2017 @ 10:41am
            Nemesis said | August 15th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

            Pointy end of the most prestigious AFL season in the world & the groupies are back to talk about Football.

            Johnny was right.
            Les was right.

            SMELL THE FEAR.

            • August 15th 2017 @ 2:42pm
              Martyn said | August 15th 2017 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

              Nemo. Good to see that your spending time reading about the AFL season and where it’s at.

              • August 15th 2017 @ 2:51pm
                Nemesis said | August 15th 2017 @ 2:51pm | ! Report

                “Good to see that your spending time reading about the AFL season and where it’s at”

                Where it’s at? There’s just one AFL season in the whole world with 22 rounds of matches. The finals always start in September.

                You don’t need to be studying fixtures, you just need to know today’s date to figure out what part of the AFL season it is.

              • August 15th 2017 @ 2:57pm
                Martyn said | August 15th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

                Nemo
                Please read closer. 23 rounds

              • August 15th 2017 @ 3:05pm
                Nemesis said | August 15th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

                “Please read closer. 23 rounds”

                Are you saying each team plays 23 Home & Away matches each season?

          • August 15th 2017 @ 10:53am
            Fadida said | August 15th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

            I agree Casper, surely if parents could afford private school fees they could afford a ball!

            “Aussie rules meatheads” is as inflammatory and stereotypical as “sheilas, w0gs” and those that put fear into the heart of Tony Abbott Fuss. It’s not so black and white

            • August 15th 2017 @ 11:30am
              Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 11:30am | ! Report

              Fad

              I went to Fairfield Pats which was a very famous Rugby league school, many famous people like Peter Sterling came from the school…

              Latter years after I left they allowed Football teams and helped develop people like Paul Okon …

              But we often played with a rock, rolled up paper, the brothers were quite anti Football and pro RL.. we had many players from our first 13 go on to play in senior RL competitions.

              So the story in many ways reflects what happened at my old school… while I was there we still had no Football teams… but after I left I am told once the doors were opened Football exploded there.

              Also Fairfield had over 180 different nations and I have often bemoaned the SBS eastern Sydney talk of Football and its challenges and my personal experience in western Sydney.

              • August 15th 2017 @ 3:27pm
                Post_hoc said | August 15th 2017 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

                I can back Midfield up, I went to the same school, similar time, I was a Rugby league Player but I had played football growing up, I was forced to chose between the two (I chose badly, ask my knees lol) That school has now also produced the new CEO of the Canterbury Bulldogs.

                Football was frowned upon, when kids entered year 7 who’s form master was also the first teams coach a brother (I bet Midfield knows who i am talking about, he used to be thre principle at Granville Pats) would walk into every class ask what sport each kid played and if you didn’t play League you were basically ridiculed.

                I remember year 5 and 6 every kid, i mean every kid would play House Rugby League pn a Wednesday afternoon, and this was tackle not touch, so there would be something like 5 or 6 divisions. The lowest divisions were kids that had no place in playing League but were forced to, institutional bullying.

                By the end of my time there, Football had despite all those issues forged a strong part in the school, League was losing players to westfields Sports High so that was working for Football as well.

              • August 15th 2017 @ 4:08pm
                BigAl said | August 15th 2017 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

                . . . and I’ll bet all the games were played in a match box !

              • August 15th 2017 @ 4:22pm
                Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

                PH

                You sound like you were a little behind me, we never had any Football..

                I left in 71… and despite all the anti Football issues the brothers had in the playground it was hand ball, 1, then Football then Touch…

                I was there when Brother Charles and Angus were the principals, Brother Angus first and then Brother Charles..

                I laugh nay am saddened that the Western Sydney Football story has not been told… Les Murray and Johnny Warren spoke of the issues of playing Football and it being called W ball … and Johnny being called W Warren…. they spoke from their shared experiences in Eastern Sydney …

                At Fairfield Pats as you would be aware call someone a W and it was on … In my street it was almost purely W …. Football was the street sport and the Dads would come out and join in at times… RRRR dirt roads, creeks surrounded by factories, German, Italian, Greek, Croatian , English , Dutch, Spanish etc … many mothers dressed in black taking in sewing ….

              • August 15th 2017 @ 4:28pm
                Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

                Big Al

                Fairfield Pats had huge ovals and they were build by the parents and students in the 60’s mainly … When i was their we had 3 full sized fields with lots of room between the fields …Plus many other playgrounds… by as Post Hoc says the brothers made every kid play league and full tackle across house colours …

        • Columnist

          August 15th 2017 @ 10:50am
          Stuart Thomas said | August 15th 2017 @ 10:50am | ! Report

          Wow, you’ve brought back a memory there for me. The can got a run in my schoolyard as well. Used to go through a pair of Clarks every term. My mother could never understand how they got ruined so frequently. Later years we used a tennis ball as well. Great for the skills. Tough to get power with a tennis ball.

          • August 15th 2017 @ 10:56am
            Nemesis said | August 15th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

            Shh… Stuart… Fadida the SuperCoach from Tassie won’t believe you did this.

            • August 15th 2017 @ 11:14am
              Fadida said | August 15th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

              He’s amazed that parents would fork out for a new pair of shoes each term but couldn’t afford a ball. Even in deepest darkest Tassie us poor public school kids could provide a ball.

              Ps, we used to play a bit of kick to kick too. Great fun. Some of the Aussie rules “meatheads” we played went on to be doctors and scientists. With your attitude it is no wonder you were ostracised, and it had nothing to do with your choice of sport….

              • August 15th 2017 @ 11:48am
                Caltex TEN & SBS support Australian Football said | August 15th 2017 @ 11:48am | ! Report

                Yer were lucky, why we use to dream of playing Sokkah with a crushed soft drink can, let alone a real football. Why we use to go to our poor school bear footed and kick stones around on concrete paths; arrh yes, yer were lucky. Tell that to the rich and poor kids today and they won’t believe yer.

          • August 15th 2017 @ 11:22am
            Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

            Yer

            My school as well if we had no ball a tin can, often a rock, a tennis ball… even sheets of paper rolled together …

            • August 15th 2017 @ 11:27am
              Nemesis said | August 15th 2017 @ 11:27am | ! Report

              Yup. Pretty normal for most school yards back in the day. Don’t know what school Fadida went to, but they obviously didn’t have windows made of glass., which was the reason we had rules that you couldn’t play cricket (even with a tennis ball) in the courtyards, nor football with a proper ball. The grassed ovals were out of bounds at lunchtime but that rule changed over the years & we eventually moved there … and if the ground were muddy you were in trouble when you got home.

            • August 15th 2017 @ 12:10pm
              Casper said | August 15th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

              A rock!! These stories just get funnier. How did your first touch, control, passing and shooting go with the rock? Seems like you might have headed a few too many rocks in your time.

              • August 15th 2017 @ 12:43pm
                Midfielder said | August 15th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

                Cas

                Consider this a great honour… I have read a couple of your posts today as I normally ignore the AFLers who come only to divert, abuse, criticise and confuse …

                Yes a rock if we could not get a tennis ball or we lost our ball down the creek.

                I think the rock was better than the wrapped up paper TBH.

                Whether you believe it or not is of little concern to me what is important well at least as I see the world is Football is an incredible simple game to play… but hard to master and harder to get touch and movement skills and is one of a few team sports were you can train by yourself or in small numbers and you don’t need the actual equipment nor even a field.

                I watched a doco on Pele some time back and he gives credit for his touch to his Dad who trained in during breaks in his work with soft to rotten mango’s … Pele’s Dad would throw him mango’s and he would try and control the mango without breaking it and pass it into a bin… in time he got his own mango’s from the same trees… Pele claims much like Bradman with the cricket stump and the water tank that the touch needed to not break the mango taught him what we in Football call soft touch…

                So yer at times we used a rock when we had nothing else … not saying it was great ball control nor was it always round but we used it.

              • August 15th 2017 @ 1:07pm
                Casper said | August 15th 2017 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

                Good on you Mid, you’re a good natured bloke.

                I was only having a bit of a laugh.

              • August 15th 2017 @ 1:03pm
                chris said | August 15th 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

                haha midfielder I was just about to recount the Pele story and the mangoes. Not sure why some of these anecdotes are so hard to grasp for some. I think its as you said, they are only here to derail and deride.

              • August 16th 2017 @ 8:34am
                Locomotiv said | August 16th 2017 @ 8:34am | ! Report

                Some on here may mock these stories when using a soft drink can or playing football with another piece of made up stuff. The reality is that by doing so, the person or group of people are actually engaging with the creative side of the brain.
                Those of you that have children will know. Sometimes the idea of something is a lot more fun than the actual real thing.

        • August 15th 2017 @ 7:29pm
          Mattyb said | August 15th 2017 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

          Lol,nice story. Bit of a worry though that these kids from some private school weren’t cluey enough between them to think to bring a tennis ball with them in the first place?
          Not sure why it matters who drunk the can,the bin would be full of them?
          Not sure how a crushed can helps technique,it doesn’t bounce or have any real rebounding capabilities,just stick your foot out and it’s trapped,then you kick it and it slides away?
          Should have just said once when we were waiting for a bus or something like that.

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