The Heritage of Street Football

November 29, 2017

The importance of a strong technical foundation: Street Football and National playing style

When we talk about the footballing style of Brazil, we immediately get the image of an attacking and free-flowing football with a high level of flair and technical brilliance. In fact, we have examples of these unique playing styles everywhere: the Rinus Michels pioneered Total Football of the Dutch, Italy with their solid defensive organisation based on the Catenaccio system, the most recent one, the physical style of hard-nosed football of the Germans centered around physically imposing players and the Tiki-Taka style played by the Spanish national team based on the system of FC Barcelona. And they all raise the question: where is this all coming from?

Strong basis and foundations with a heavy emphasis on technical aspects of the game, greatly impact the growth and skills of footballers. From youth to elite levels, the so-called 
10,000 touches a day is crucial in producing better players and have been shown to work in positive ways for footballers. That combined with repetition after repetition will result in a technically astute player, all up till the professional level.

But the road to the highest level will only be possible if the player has the freedom to express his technical abilities and creativity without sacrificing for the sake of winning at the youth level. I love the quote “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” by Picasso. If a kid is doing something good and then being told not to do that, it affects him, and he might not have the confidence to do that again because of the fear of being told not to. Imagine if Lionel Messi was told not to dribble a lot when being a youth player - where would he be now? When you get that freedom to express your creativity, up to a certain age, you’ll develop much faster, high footballing IQ and will be able to adapt tactically. Therefore, I strongly believe that the coach’s role is much more about being a mentor when training such a young age group than a “teacher”. 

Favela FootballWhen we talk about the greatest players, we hear stories about them starting with Street Football. From Pele to Maradona to Ronaldinho and then to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, these legendary players grew up playing in the streets. When young players play in the streets, they create their own way of playing due to the absence of coaches and this is precisely when they build their technical creativity. As they grow, coaches come into play to add the tactical side of the game. Combining both and not making them mutually exclusive seems to be the key to unlock the highest performance.

Article by Guest Writer:
Jenson Rajkumar

FA Level 2 Coach

U11 Rising Stars (North London) Football Coach




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