Craig Johnston on Youth Football
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Craig Johnston on Youth Football

November 7, 2019

Craig’s got this new, this new foundation,
this new plan to do this and it sounded to me absolutely fascinating Craig. Well, I’ve
got four kids so, you know, in one way it’s not the kids fault. If you grow up being a
gamer, and you’ve got bells and whistles and lights going off in your face and everything’s
a thousand miles an hour and exciting and you get adrenaline, you know, and all the
mediums you talked about. Then for a kid these days to go out, in the backyard, and kick
a ball around it’s like so boring. Have you ever kicked a ball in the backyard? I have
my brother used to make me, my brother used to make me play, yeah practice with him in
the back garden. Is it boring? I found it boring yeah. Well it is boring, that’s what
I mean, it’s boring. Sitting on the PlayStation is fantastic. Anyway, I think we’ve got to
talk to kids in their own language and we have to develop programs whereby we can give
them the gaming experience but they’re using their feet and their sensory perceptions to
actually do skills and drills, meaning, right, put them into a giant PlayStation where their
feet are like, or a pinball machine, where their feet are like flippers, which turn off
and on, light and bells and whistles, if they hit the correct target at the correct pace
of ball, you know for passing and dribbling. So , I’ve spent a long time, actually maybe
twenty or thirty years, because the methodology I honed in the middlesborough car park way
back then when all I had was a ball and a brick wall, right, that was 1975, you know,
now 2013 there is technology out there, right, and we’ve got to make it more interesting,
is my point. It’s a long winded explanation. We got to make it interesting because English
football and Australian football, I believe, is going backwards. All the foreigners are
coming in and taking the jobs, and I was the original foreigner if you like, so nothing
against foreigners by the way but, but they’ve all got 75% have got the places in the premier
league. Now thy’re taking 50% of the premier league academy jobs, why? Because they are
better, because they’re better passers, better dribblers, better players and they’re hungrier.
Where as our English kids are, they’re not hungry. Well some of the best players, if
you look at brazillian or south american, it’s because that’s what they are doing, in
the street playing football, back to basics without the technology. Well that’s becuase
they don’t have playstations or televisions, their object of desire is that football, that
is their toy it’s theire one and only toy. It’s social standing in that flavella or bario,
right, is is you might be the ugliest, skinniest kid in the world but if you can nutmeg someone
three times in an afternoon you’re a genius and that’s the social standing and believe
it or not in the back streets of Liverpool and Middlesborough and Scotland, you know,
only twenty, thirty years ago, that was the same situation but now, okay as nations maybe
we’ve grown up maybe we’ve provided more for our kids and they’ve got a better standard
of life. So, we’re knocking it but it has it’s pros and cons but we’re going backwards.
I mean, the Aussies I think and the English are going backwards as a national team because
of this problem. Well obviously you were touching on skill and developing skill the way you
did when you first came over to England, but what’s something that you are an advocate
of is the determination and not just the skill and the ability but the want to play and the
passion for it. Yeah and erm, you know, it’s interesting, if you haven’t got that then
you’re not going to make it at any level and it’s really funny but I’ve seen all these
talented kids come along with great skill, with great vision, they’re actually great
players but if that hunger and desire and want and determination’s not there, they’re
not going to make it. then you see kids like myself, like Stevie McMahon, that just struggled,
struggled, struggled, but were determined, right, and when they got their chance they
went through people, they cleaned people up, they just wanted that ball and as I was explaining
before to Neil. You know, my job in life was to get that ball for Liverpool, give it to
someone that could play, then run off on a tangent to give them an option, people like
Dalglish and Rush and we made those blokes look good. They were good but we made them
look even better, yeah, that’s right. And it’s also about wanting to do well for your
team, not just for yourself, like you said, you didn’t care about making yourself look
good, you wanted to make the people you worked with look good as well. Well you know what,
in hind sight, you know, it’s about the people you’re playing for as well, it’s the city,
it’s the poeple that pay their money, the working class people, it’s when you buy into
something like Bill Shankly’s philosophy of why you play football, who you’re playing
football for and what it means to them. That’s kinda what makes Liverpool different to anybody
else and you dig deep into that rich heritage and history and where it’s coming from and
where it’s coming from up here. If that’s your starting point, right because Liverpool
was an ordinary team when Shankly came. It was never an ordinary city by the way, we
know that. So it took an extraordinary man and an outsider to come in and say, you know,
give me a team of scousers and I’ll beat the bloody world because he recognized, I guess,
what I’ve recognized as well because I’m an outsider, there’s something unique about you
guys. It’s wacky, it’s weird, you are definitely weird but you’ve got something and I think
that’s why you can come somewhere like Australia and there’s like ninety-ninety five thousand
people all singing your song about your culture and about what you do. It’s really really
interesting and might I just say, welcome to Australia, and we’ve been waiting so long
for you guys to come and it’s kind of you’re giving us some of your self. Well what can
I say, I think on behalf of The Anfield Wrap and Red Touch Media, we are thrilled to be
here and thrilled to be speaking to you. So thank you for your time. I’m Kelly Forshaw,
this is Red Touch Media with Craig Johnston and Neil Atkinson of The Anfield Wrap. Thanks
for watching.

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  1. Time with the ball. That's it. If you take a 15 year old kid from Germany, France, Spain, Brazil, Italy, Argentina etc, compare him to an English kid I guarantee every single one of those other nations will show that their kids have spent more hours with a football at their feet, probably from a younger age too.

    It would be difficult to measure that but I'd bet my life that English kids don't get the same level of exposure to a football than those of other nations.

    Trouble is, Britain is all about life balance, parents encourage their kids to "try everything" and not to do too much of the same thing. What other nations expect of their small children in regards to football training would probably be considered child abuse over here. I'm not saying I agree with that, it's just the way Britain is. Children aren't really encouraged to pursue one thing but rather to partake in many different things… "Jack of all trades, master of none" scenario.

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