Santi Cazorla for me, is the perfect role model for all of those young footballers who have been told that they are too small, or too slow, to become a top footballer. He shows that the top footballer is one that is well balanced, comfortable on either foot, and able to master the control of a football.
World class footballers are not created post 18 years of age, it starts from the first moment they touch the beautiful football that we all love.
I believe that we as coaches are key to the future of English football. We are able to work with players, whether at grass root or academy level, at an age where they are like sponges and so we should take full advantage. Coaches should create drills and games to keep kids interested whilst giving them the hours and hours of practice they need for ball mastery. (Research shows that 10,000 hours of practice allows for mastery in any field).
Children football should be coached more on perfecting the basic skills needed to be a well rounded footballer. Once a child is able to control the ball perfectly with both feet, pass the ball comfortably with both feet, strike the ball cleanly with both feet and dribble with the ball comfortably with both feet, they will take to learning how to fitting into a managers tactical philosophy well as they will be very comfortable taking to a football pitch.
Youth football club managers think small, too focused on results instead of being focused on player development. Of course, a winning mentality is part of a players development, however, creating a well balanced footballer should be key, with the aim of producing confident well beaters as priority. Small sided keep ball sessions should be used often, to allow players maximum touches of the ball and where possible, children should have a ball each during all sessions to allow them to spend more and more time with the football.
If we as coaches are able to deliver toddler football sessions in Enfield, or just football sessions by coaching the right way, we will start to reap the benefits as a football country.
Ali Mustafa - Head of Academy (2013)