Month: June 2010

English football? Health and Safety first!

Nothing to do with the topic of this blog, you are right, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the reality England faces regarding football.

All these years watching a mediocre football, even in the Premier League, where Cristiano Ronaldo is the top player and where Robinho can’t play football made me wondering what’s terribly wrong with the nation’s love for the sport. Not just passion, but the English people were the ones that invented the sport. Here in Cambridge its very first rules were written and the first match with those rules played in Parker’s Piece in 1848.

With more than 160 years of football history you would imagine that they’d have a bit more skills… Recently I have found a perfectly good reason why this happens.

Another English passion, maybe even more important that football, is lawn. Not cricket, not complaining, not political jokes: lawn. Mediocre football is all right, mediocre grass is a crime. But, grass and football are very much connected, probably the very reason why they loved to play it in the past, but as priorities are laid, lawn apparently comes first. In my recent visit to my son’s new school, with very impressive lawns, bigger than an official football pitch. The “football pitch”? It’s made of asphalt, which is also used as car park some times…

Baffled as I was, when I asked the children about football, they said they were allowed to play, but they had to bring their own balls. So far so good, but then it came reality: there is a recommendation to use foam or rubber balls, to avoid injury. Question is, what does more injury, proper footballs or asphalt?

In Brazil, children as young as 1 year old play football with anything. Coconuts, food cans, socks rolled into a ball, even stones. And they usually play barefoot, on dirt, or even asphalt. Health and Safety is important, but not to the point of removing completely the fun of being a child. If a child doesn’t get dirty, it won’t learn to clean itself, to avoid the situation in the future and, more importantly, to understand the pain of living and how good that feels.

European football? Never heard…