Published - Sun, 04 Sep 2022
Football. The beautiful game. The world’s most popular sport.
It can be played by anyone, anywhere—from streets and vacant lots to schoolyards to public pitches and Sunday leagues—and for people across the globe, a ball and a net are all that’s required to bring countless hours of joy and camaraderie, a lifetime of memories with friends, classmates, neighbors. But it’s at the feet of the most skilled players that its elegance comes to life, that it inspires roars from seas of adoring fans and fixes itself in the collective imagination of so many. And for the players on the pitch in those moments, listening to their club’s anthem under the bright lights, football is more than just a game. It is the realization of a dream, a dream that started in the street or the schoolyard or the stadium as a young fan. A dream they devoted themselves to pursuing with single-minded focus and determination.
The path to becoming a professional footballer starts with that dream. From that moment, it becomes a mindset that guides the way forward, sustained by focus, dedication, training, and study. For all its accessibility and popularity, playing football professionally is an ambition held by many and achieved by precious few. To make it to the biggest stages, you must see the path, get on it as early as possible, and never get off.
Dreams of a career in professional football are often just that—dreams. So, what separates the dreamers from the stars we see on our TV screens each week? What does it take to wake up and find yourself lacing your boots in the dressing room of your favorite club? If that dream is just a vague idea, you’re likely to wake up right where you were. Passion is what gives the dream a sense of purpose and grounds it in the real world. It informs all the decisions and commitments the aspiring footballer will make, from youth leagues to traveling squads to club academies and (so the dream goes) beyond.
In competing, in adopting a mindset that is focused not just on winning matches, but on setting goals and achieving them step by step, drill by drill, passion provides the drive it takes to overcome the insurmountable odds of establishing a career in professional football. It will lift you up in humbling moments or in instances of adversity and self-doubt—a heartbreaking loss, an injury, a run of poor form. In other words, it will keep you on the path.
It goes without saying that football at the highest level is a game of skill. Some, as many of the talking heads would have us believe, are just born with a preternatural ability. And there may be some truth to that. But to confuse talent with skill is a mistake made all too often by would-be professional footballers.
“Hard work beats talent when talent is not working hard.” Alex Ferguson
Even the most naturally gifted player can’t simply walk onto the pitch and compete, not when so many other young players with the same dream are putting in the work to take their game to the next level. Those who rise all the way to the top will be the ones who put in the effort to improve, regardless of innate ability.
Like any skill, football demands practice and repetition. Hours. Days. Years. Consistency both builds and reinforces skill, until it becomes second nature. It is imperative that hopeful players of all ages commit to a consistent training regimen both with their team or club and individually—to attend practices and trials, play for multiple squads, build team dynamics within different systems and, crucially, practice on their own. A ball and a net. That’s all it takes.
But for all its simplicity, the game of football is deceptively complex. A player must be willing to devote as much energy and attention to learning the nuances of the game as they do to honing their technical skills. Studying and understanding technique, tactics, and formations, learning how to spot and exploit weaknesses in an opposing side or a countering player are all advantages that set footballers apart from their opponents. To truly excel, to outthink where you can’t outplay, a player must become a scholar of the game.
No great footballer will have made it to the top of levels of the sport without a strong system of support around them. As a player, you’ll support yourself with focus and motivation, with a winning mindset, with commitment to your conditioning and your knowledge of the game, with your attitude toward your teammates and coaches and fostering relationships within the industry. Learn skills from your teammates and more experienced players, lean on your coaches for wisdom and advice on where to seek out resources to advance your game and market yourself.
For parents of young players, the level of commitment to support is just as critical, from providing money for equipment and training, to transportation to practices and matches, to facilitating those practices or even coaching at the youth level. Most of all, parents must be willing to give their children’s dream the freedom to exist and to express itself without criticism or fear of failure. To thrive.
The Football Reach Academy was founded to serve as another level of support for players, parents, coaches and advocates alike in the form of expert instruction, knowledge, guidance and knowhow. In the Football Reach portal, you’ll find resources related to all aspects of the game, from individual and team drills to tactical guides to networking and trials and tryouts. Everything you’ll need to stay on the path and keep moving forward, step by step.
“I start early and I stay late, day after day, year after year. It took me 17 years and 114 days to become an overnight success.” Lionel Messi
By this point, you’ve likely realized how much effort succeeding in football demands. How long and arduous the journey is. Football Reach is another guidepost on that journey—a beacon of football intelligence shared by a community of players, coaches and experts invested in seeing the next generation of footballers succeed. Whether you’re already on the path or wondering where to get started, we’ve got the answers to all your football questions, from how to train, to skills you can practice on your own, to developing a winning mindset, to increasing your exposure, and on and on.
If you’ve committed yourself to putting in the work, with the support of your teammates, your family and expert resources like the ones offered here, you’ll earn the ultimate payoff in the form of confidence—the culmination of all the sweat, the repetition, the study. Take luck out of the equation. Attend every match, every trial, every opportunity knowing that you’ve done everything in your power to perform at the very peak of your ability. Switch on the bright lights with Football Reach.
Sun, 04 Sep 2022