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Is Focus on Results Holding Back Football Development?

6 years ago By Paul Smith

Gian Marco Campagnolo is a lecturer in Science, Technology & Innovation Studies at the University of Edinburgh by day and football revolutionary by night. The 34-year-old Italian coaches North Merchiston’s under-15s team and his philosophies on coaching aren’t those of your average youth coach.

The former Serie A youth team player and UEFA ‘B’ licenced coach believes too much focus is placed on results of games, rather than on the training ground where players really develop their footballing ability. Campagnolo believes this is affecting young footballers and leaving many of them unable to enjoy the sport because they lack technical ability.

Speaking to the Edinburgh Evening News Campagnolo explained; “If the result is the only measure of performance, the boys will get disappointed and lose interest. Players and families need to know that performance is not all-important. If you’re a competent coach, you tell them victory is not the measure of performance, you tell them “you are improving”.”

“I saw a player in a Saturday youth game, he was crying after losing. The only thing these players have is a lack of enjoyment of football. They are not given the elements to enjoy football, this is why they cry when they lose. In Italy, players enjoy playing.”

“There’s an element of enjoyment in football, but [as a player] you have to be in control of what you do. If you have the technical skills, you are enjoying the moment you make a short pass, not fearing it.”

If you look at the current Spanish national team they have an abundance of technically gifted players; Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta abd Fabregas, to name a few. These players play with a free-spirit and an elegant, effortless simplicity. These are type of players the British game has been lacking over recent years, with Paul Scholes and the emergence of Jack Wilshere being the main exceptions.

Speaking of his first experiences of Scottish football Campagnolo said; “I was struck by the absence of tactics: in games you’d have 20 boys in a space of ten square metres, and in training they’d spend 30 minutes practising corners. Then, I realised I had players who could run more, move more, and who had more aggression than in Italy.”

Campagnolo quickly set up his team to play in a Barcelona-esque style, with plenty of ball retention, though this style hasn’t always gone down well with everyone in the Scottish Capital.

“Teams we play against get annoyed but if we’re getting criticism from the other team, good. I see these matches as stages for players to increase their technical skills and to be stimulated. My boys now play a certain way and started well, but they lost a couple of games and lost confidence. It was a crisis, and I had to react to their skills.”

“During “the crisis”, the boys would ask why they should play this way, taking time to build opportunities instead of the lottery of the long ball. So, I told them before one game, “Forget about tactics” – and they lost. From there, they took on my suggestions and combined them with their own quality.”

Personally, I agree with Campagnolo’s ideas and outlook on youth football. As a young player I was brought up with the philosophy ‘if in doubt, kick it out’, a phrase that is probably all to familiar to British footballers. This mentality has hurt the game across Britain, with young players worried about making mistakes and winning, rather than focusing on enjoying the game and playing without fear.

What are your opinions on youth coaching; is there too much emphasis on results? Do players need more time on the training pitch rather than playing games? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Courtesy of Fundsport

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