A Richmond soccer coach is bringing a little bit of Brazilian flair and fundamentals to the Richmond Oval starting next month.
Huw Harris is spearheading the push to set up the first operation to bear the Brazilian Soccer Schools banner locally and is hoping to attract young players to a system of training that emphasizes much more contact with a soccer ball to improve their foot skills, as well as conditioning.
Its a concept developed in the U.K. and has spread around the globe. Harris, who is also the volunteer, technical director for Richmond Youth Soccer, said the idea embraces what is called Futebol de Salao, a method designed to accelerate the technical confidence of young players.
Futebol de Salao stems from impromptu soccer games in small, crowded and impoverished Brazilian backstreets where players often use whatever can be cobbled into a ball often wrapped up plastic bags or even rags.
You can see why these young Brazilian kids are so technically competent, said Harris. They are not just doing the one-on-one things, but their deftness of touch is so much more superior at a younger age because they are playing the game in confined spaces, often using different things that your brain gets to the point where it doesnt matter what shape the ball is, you can control it.
The more structured Brazillian Soccer Schools version harnesses that pure form of Futebol de Salao, as well as the Brazilians unbridled joy of the beautiful game in small-sided games using a small size 2 soccer ball that has limited bounce, is weighted and cannot be lifted off the ground easily.
That forces players to become more adept at controlling the ball with their feet and not simply opting for long, high passes.
It was former English manager, Brian Clough, who said that, If God had wanted us to play football in the air, hed have put grass up there, Harris said with a smile.
Harris added the average Brazilian Soccer session also encourages a much greater number of touches of the soccer ball than traditionally run practices.
According to the Brazilian Soccer Schools website (braziliansoccerschools.com), players in a traditional 11-a-side soccer match touch the ball 0.60 times a minute.
Dropping down to a five-a-side game, the number rises to 2.73.
And using the Brazilian Soccer School methods, that per minute figure jumps up to just under eight.
The number of times kids touch a soccer ball is what really drives how good they are going to be, Harris said. For most soccer programs, kids go out once a week and have training, and consequently, these kids dont touch the ball enough.
The program will also address the subject of physical literacy, a term that describes a youngsters adeptness at controlling their body something Harris contends has been dulled by todays computer/video game-centred youth.
Kids today dont go out and play unstructured games as much any more, Harris explained. They dont climb trees, run around the park, play cowboys and Indians. Consequently, they have to be taught to fall to the ground, pick themselves up, whereas its instinctive for kids from two generations ago.
Now, our kids are so structured in terms of their time, theres a physical literacy side to all sports thats missing in a lot of these kids, he added. I have seen seven- and eight-year-olds who have difficulty catching a soccer ball. And thats because theyve never had to try and catch something. No ones ever played catch with them.
Music will also be used to help stimulate body movement and rhythm during the training. And to help encourage the players to improve, the Brazilian system uses a badge/reward system.
Its a bit like Boy Scouts in that there is a measurement whereby the kids are assessed and once they achieve something they are given an award. So, theres this ongoing process where they are assessed and their success is reinforced. And it gives them targets, levels to attain a bit like martial arts.
At the outset, the school will offer programs for three age groups: six and seven-year-olds, eight and nine-year-olds, and 10 to 11-year-olds.