How much of what we see of LIONEL MESSI on the football ground can be associated with coaching? Is ‘star’ quality something that is teachable? I don’t believe that production-line coaching methods can produce ‘Ferrari-type footballers’. Coaching, especially in the UK, has a history of providing ‘commercial vehicles’ for ‘Grand-Prix’ events. I fervently believe, however, that playing standards can be dramatically improved and ‘stardom’ can be produced far more for the game than in the past as long as the work that is applied from ‘cradle to professional, public exposure’ is correctly designed for purpose – to produce ‘great footballers’.
There is no doubt that great players of the past produced themselves on the streets and make-do playing areas in all parts of the world, and to some extent, this continues to this day in some of the poorer countries. Many of the playing qualities that were learned on these congested ‘pitches’ during the ‘practice whilst playing’ sessions, have never been replaced by ‘artificial’ teaching methods (coaching). Unlike present, ‘ Press-dressed’ players ‘hyped’ as great, the truly great players usually have a ‘poverty produces player’ label attached. From the distant past of; Puskas, De Stefano, Beckenbauer, Pele, Maradona etc. to more recent examples, Messi, Ronaldo, Xavi, Inesta etc. all of these players first acquired a natural playing style that was either allowed to develop without being hindered by ‘ academic intrusion’ or they were accepted into teaching and playing regimes that were designed to expand their individual playing qualities and not suppress them.
Lionel Messi, is a modern example of ‘poverty produces player(s)’. His upbringing was simplistic in terms of playing education. He played in street games with friends and during these regular ‘competitive’ matches, he learned essential aspects of the game and applied them without outside interference. On his introduction into Barcelona’s Academy, he was nurtured towards his present greatness and allowed to improve his natural playing qualities; he was never guided towards mediocrity and robotic football responses. Today, in the largest stadiums in the world, he applies the same playing qualities he first gathered in the streets of Argentina. The cleverness that is obvious in the way Messi plays should be applauded, not just for what it is, but for what it has been ALLOWED to become !
Organized coaching methods have been too invasive in the development of players. Theory time has overtaken practice time and playing ability has been ‘mis-guided’ to produce a ‘blanket’ ability of mediocrity for the game. This is very noticeable here in the UK; individually skilful players are limited in number and games at all levels are nothing more than copy-cats of each other – there are no English players selected for the latest UEFA team of the year nominations!!
Premier Skills coaching methodology reflects and reinforces street playing qualities. The important ‘practice whilst playing’ aspects of the street game are fundamental to Premier Skills coaching. We believe the development of players from young to maturity, is founded on the creation of individual skills and how to use them to combine with other playing partners. These skills are allowed to ‘blossom’ and then spread to ‘cement’ and create an attractive and effective style of play. Football is ‘the beautiful game’; carefully blended with the other important components, it is individual skills that adds the allure, colour and excitement to it. It should not be forgotten that defending is also a skill and has to be recognized as such. FC Barcelona, have highly talented, individualistic players in all positions and whether in possession of the ball or attempting to regain it, they employ high levels of individual skill and football intellect. But it is not just individual ball manipulation etc. that is conquering the football world, it is how individualism also allows players to interchange positions and to combine with fluidly and cleverness. FC Barcelona, epitomize the development beliefs and much of the playing style envisaged in Premier Skills Coaching. We know that our youngsters in this country, developed properly, could be more than capable of taking on anything in world football — and win with style.
And so to answer the question, can ‘stardom’ be taught’? my answer is a definite YES, but only if the correct vision is set and a suitable coaching method is used to achieve it!