Long gone are the days of 1967 when the Scottish national team defeated the then world champions England on enemy territory. Although the English team these days is not what it once was, the Scottish team has seen an even greater decline in standard. Already the team have no chance of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup with three games left to play. However a very impressive away win against Croatia on June 7th with a depleted squad could perhaps indicate that a recovery is on its way? But how has the national game ended up in the state that it is?
The reason that most people in Scotland would give is the lack of money in the game. The Scottish leagues contain significantly less money than their English counterparts. As the English Premier League seems to grow and grow, attracting players and fans from around the globe, the Scottish game is struggling to keep up with no mega bucks from TV rights or merchandise coming in. You only have to look at the demise of Rangers and more recently Hearts to see evidence of the financial crisis hitting Scottish clubs hard.
Hearts announced their intention to go into administration earlier this week
Another reason that people would give for why the Scotland national game is struggling is because we simply don’t have a good enough quality of player. This is a point that can’t be argued with, the team has no Neymar or Messi within its ranks. We must understand that this is the case although we should not just accept that that is the way things are and be content with it. How can we improve the quality of player that we bring through? I believe this has to start at a very young age.
Having played football in Scotland since the age of 5 I have seen the way that youth football is coached and run first hand. At boys club level too many teams are run by a parent who is only interested in winning and who will happily get on the back of a young kid if they make a mistake. As much as their passion for the game is great it needs to be channelled the right way. This mentality does not teach kids to get the ball down and play freely as they are scared to make a mistake and face a barrage of abuse from their coach. You hear stories of kids in Brazil just playing freely, at times with a tennis ball, getting lots of touches, passing and trying to pull off tricks. Would you see this in a youth game in Glasgow? I’d be very surprised. Too much emphasis is put on playing tactically too young when kids should be able to enjoy playing on the ball and worry about tactics when they are older.
Small sided games, small footballs and Futsal are said to be the basis of Brazilian flair
The SFA are trying to introduce smaller sided games for young kids and even futsal games as well although as I mentioned earlier, when an angry parent is coaching all you will see is them getting angry at less players or at futsal players. It’s time to bring through a generation of young enthusiastic coaches who have a passion for seeing football played the right way. Easier said than done though I guess.
It’s good to see that the league clubs in Scotland have recognised that there needs to be a change and are working on league reconstruction although it is yet to be seen what benefit if any this will bring to the clubs. Change is needed however and you have to start somewhere. I very much doubt that Scottish football will ever be as big as English football or be able to attract the same quality of player to the country but if change begins to happen now then you never know what the future holds. All eyes turn to Wembley in August to see how much of a gap is prevalent if there is one at all between Scotland and England when the two sides meet in a ‘friendly’. Despite all my negativity in this piece, after seeing Scotland in Croatia, I wouldn’t be too surprised to see the Tartan Army pull off a result against the odds.