Tuesday, January 20, 2009
(This is my very first blog post, we had not yet decided to name our project 'Joy of the People' and were still deciding on direction. Unbeknownst to me, I had posted this on the anniversary of Garrincha's death on January 20, 1983).
'People often say that results are paramount, that, ten years down the line the only thing that will be remembered is the score, but that's not true. What remains in people's memories is the search for greatness and the feelings that engenders.
We remember Arrigo Saachi's AC milan side more than we remember Fabio Capello's AC Milan, even though Capello's side was more successful and more recent. Equally, the Dutch total football teams of the 70's are legendary, far more than West Germany who beat them in the world Cup final of 1974 or Argentina who beat them in the 1978 finals.
It's about the search for perfection. We know it doesn't exist, but it's our obligation towards football and maybe, toward humanity to strive towards it. That's what we remember, that's what's special.'
In Brazil, where superlatives take on a life of their own, "joy of the people," is the nickname for Garrincha, the storming, unstoppable right wing that many consider more vital than Pele in bringing in the 58 and 62 world cups. He was poor, from the favelas of Rio, he was born with one leg shorter than the other, he was smallish and tricky, Garrincha means "little bird." To practice he took a ball to the local schoolyard and challenged the kids to take it from him. He was temperamental and eventually saw his career and life cut short through poor lifestyle choices. But, no one, before or since, could move with the ball like he could. Pictures of him cutting the ball, flying in from the outside toward the goal show him darting at insane angles, bypassing defenders, 2, 3, and more. He was unstoppable, his movement was memorizing, and when he played the people felt the joy.
That joy is the joy of the playground, the innocence of youth, the return to the purity of sport. It is what we all hope to see in ourselves, in our kids. The creative, building, the new, the remembered. Well into his forties and coaching at Barcelona, the reporters asked the great Johann Cruyff why it was he continued to participate in the 6 v 6 scrimmage at the Barcelona first team practice, "because," he said, "sometimes, for a moment, for a brief moment, I am 25 again."
This Blog is about soccer development, not just kids but everyone, to adult and beyond. About learning. About joy. About making friends along the way. The things when all is said and done that we will remember.
What are the keys to growth in soccer? What Can these clues about soccer growth teach us ourselves and about learning in other ares? . What is it that makes us grow in sport? Learn? What can we learn from the pursuit of mastery? For over 30 years I have played, coached and studied youth, adult and now masters soccer development, how we learn, how and why we stop learning, things that help us progress, things that inhibit growth. I have seen players I would never have expected go on to National levels, I see seen players I thought would go on to national levels fall flat in the face of simple obstacles.
I have played with players from every country. I have made friends and rivals and now am working to help others do it better. The joy of the people? My hope is that this blog strives to discover that joy. Can we create an better enviroment that produces people, players and teams that play with that Joy? What about the great players? What were the keys to their development? Is it our duty to search for perfection as Valdano suggests? Of course it's never possible, but perhaps it's our duty to try.