With the Colt teams playing this year in the lower leagues I started to think about a problem I have seen in junior football.
No, I’m not talking about how we cannot give our best kids real games, where they can put into practice the stuff they’ve been taught.
No, the problem is height.
A number of years back I found my son absolutely hated football. Then after about a year of trying to change his mind I discovered what the problem was.
When he began he was 4 years old, but he was really tall for his age…which meant he was heavier and was unable to keep up with the small speedsters zipping past him.
After just two or three games of running around, and getting absolutely nowhere near the ball….he just gave up.
Move on eleven years, and now my son has all the power he needs to handle his height at 6’3”, but still his hatred for the game has not changed.
The problem is, in Scotland, we have no mechanism to bring all these taller kids back into the game, just when their power to weight ratio starts to give them the advantage.
At school, rather than making the attempt to bring them back to the game, and to teach them the fun parts of the game, they are almost always forced to play the positions they hate; the goalie, or the defender, where they are kept away from the glory, and loudly-ridiculed whenever they make a mistake.
When they are still young kids, the tall, slow players are those who are last to be picked by the team captain, and that reinforces their desire to never play again; and that is why we have so many problems in our national league.
We do not nurture our talent, and we do not train tall players against tall players.
Instead it is sink or swim, and all too often we let our best players down.
What is the solution…perhaps in our desire to get the Colts into a professional league we are missing something more important?
Perhaps we should have a tall kids’ league and a separate speedster league, where they can learn with their peers how to play the game. It sounds silly, but these subtle differences could help youth development.
Each year, for two or three months, we could let the tall kid league play against the speedsters, to let each group see different styles of play.
Then when they reach their teens, the two leagues can be joined for diversity.
In this way we will have tall kids who are comfortable playing up front, and speedsters who know more about what it takes to be a defender, because it isn’t always height that decides who is the better player – Cannavaro was hardly tall, was he?
Similarly, look at guys like Diego Costa and Daniel Cousin – kids who thrived in attack despite their height and build because they were encouraged in Brazil and Gabon respectively. Doesn’t happen in Scotland does it?
So, what do you think. Is there a better solution out there?
Or is the current you-suck system perfect the way it is?