As a Part Time Sports Coach to Primary School children I am at constantly reminded of how big an influence footballers have on children.
When coaching a football session to a group of children, I was approached by a young lad who excitedly told me of how he had learnt to do the ‘Ronaldo-chop’ skill, famously performed by Cristiano Ronaldo. Bearing in mind this boy was just aged 5, I was amazed at how quickly young children are becoming connected to the different aspects of football, as well as the world of sport.
Footballers are criticized far too much for supposedly becoming ‘bad role models’ as a result of their actions in public and social events that are portrayed in such a negative way by the media. I don’t disagree with the idea that footballers must strive to present themselves as role models to children in terms of their behaviour away from their sport, however I believe this is becoming too much of a focus, unfairly looking past the fact that they are only human.
As footballers, they should be looked up too by children as footballers and their achievements and attitudes within the sport as opposed to their social lives. Having seen this young boy get excited by his ability to partly replicate an idol, I was refreshed by the way that a footballer has acted as an influence as a result of his ability. To know that children are becoming more eager to be like their footballing idols for what they offer to their profession, at such a young age, is great as it suggests that there is a greater chance of this continuing as opposed to children being exposed to ‘so called’ mistakes made by there stars and displayed by the press.
More importantly, it is brilliant to see how advanced children are becoming at such a young age in terms of their knowledge regarding specific aspects of a professional footballer’s individual game. With so much controversy and politics surrounding football at the moment, it can’t be underestimated how important it is that children are keen to copy their idols on the football pitch; seeing a child thrilled in this way is a reminder of old-school football, with aspiring young footballers increasingly desperate to be as close to the Ronaldo’s, the Messi’s and the Neymar’s of today in the same way that many used to copy the work of Cruyff, Pele and Maradona.