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Good coaches use the basic criteria of street soccer for their vision of grassroots development; they realize that these elements produce a natural process that gives the most efficient training for young kids.      

FIFA’s Coach of the Century
Developed “total soccer” concept
Dutch national team coach 1974


There is soccer talent all throughout America. American kids, immigrant kids, first generation kids, African kids, Hispanic kids, urban kids, inner city kids, suburban kids. Soccer is being played everywhere. There are “pay to play” and play for fun programs. There are overpaid coaches and sometimes, no coaches at all. Soccer is played on the street, tennis courts, turf fields, and well manicured grass fields. It is played in expensive uniforms or tee-shirts with just painted numbers. Some players run in highly- priced cleats and others in hand me down soccer shoes. This is what soccer is in America, a game of the haves and the have-nots.    

How can we merge this melting pot of talent of the rich and not so rich?  How can we identify or produce the next Xavi, Fabregas, Luka Modric, or David Silva? How can we produce someone even half as skillful as Messi, Robinho, Neymer, C. Ronaldo or Ibrahimovic? Where do we find the left footed talent like Robben, Ozil, Bale, or Van der Vart?  Where are the fast, technically sound, skillful, full backs like Maicon, Alves, Evra, and Sagna? 

Holland, with a population of 16.5 million, has produced numerous world class players:  Cruyff, Seedorf, Gullit, Rijkaard, Van Persie, Sneijder, Kilvert, the DeBoer brothers, Robben; just to name a few. Then there is tiny Uruguay; population 3 million. The same number of kids registered with US Youth Soccer. Who from Uruguay has emerged as world class players? None other than Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.  

I do not have to mention Brazil or Argentina because their conveyor belt of talent is endless. Every year these countries just keep producing talent. World class players who can change and dominate games on their own.  

 In 2009, according to Esteve Calzada, chief executive of sports marketing firm Prime Time Sports, which does research for the sales of Brazilian players being sold aboard, showed that $177,000,000 was generated from player sales. And this figure was down by 25% as Brazilian players were now opting to stay in Brazil because of the growing economy which means clubs can now afford to  pay the same wages as the European clubs are willing to offer.   

Messi refined and nurtured his talent at Barcelona, but his dribbling skills were mastered on the streets of Rosario, Argentina. Ronaldinho, the player who used to play one-on-one with his dog, Bombom, learned the game on the dirt roads of Porto Alegre. Like so many players before, and after them, the streets played an important role in developing their skills and creativity.  

I recently read an article about Samir Nasir, the talented French and Manchester City forward about his early days growing up in the rough neighborhood of Marseille, France, the same as Zindane. He said the joy of playing on the streets was to “nutmeg” someone or to make a player look silly. Soccer to him was fun, creative, and inventive. 

Some way and somehow street ball must be incorporated into the development of our future world class players. So many of our former and current soccer greats grew up learning the game this way. Why is street soccer so important?  Because the streets force the players to be unpredictable. The streets force you to dribble because if not, your touches would be limited. Once the ball is given away, you do not know when you are going to get it back again. So you learn how to keep it. 

More importantly, in the street, the participants take control of their game. They teach and they learn. They dribble someone and someone dribbles them. They make mistakes and learn from them at the same time. 

When the question was asked, “What is hurting youth soccer development?” the top European Youth Clubs, including Manchester United, Ajax, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich, said, 'the loss of street soccer.' Even though these clubs invest millions of dollars into their youth programs, they still recognized the importance of street soccer.

At a young age is the time for a child to develop their own soccer personality which will be an off shoot of who they are as a person. If coaches would just observe, the player's personalities will emerge. The dribbler, the organizer, the playmaker, the thinker, the talker, the tackler are already on the field. If all players are allowed to have as many touches on the ball as possible they all will develop touch and composure with it. Many times coaches of 6, 7, and 8 year olds are designating players to play one position!

Organized Chaos will create ball handlers instead of scary soccer players who have no idea of what to do when confronted with a one on one situation. If a coach advocates dribbling and encouraged to do so, over a period of years, it becomes a habit. Things just happen on the soccer field without them being programmed into the child’s brain. There is no need to think about it or wait for a coach command because, from the development of confidence in dribbling skills, the player will operate spontaneously.  

Combined this by watching professional player's moves on YouTube, playing FIFA, and viewing highlights and games from all over the globe, will be the beginning of an emerging of a world class player. FIFA 13 has 50 moves, Check it out on YouTube.

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