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Youth Development (from the London Times)

Canuck Oranje

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This is an interesting article. What I saw on my travels to Brazil would support the views put forward in this article. I would add however that Brazilian kids play everywhere and not just on the street (but I have broken up the odd game driving around in Sao Paulo). We underestimate the amount of training that Brazilians do.

For example, most many junior teams are in training already for the Copa Sao Paulo de Juniores. Many of those have tryout camps happening this week where they reduce to a final roster of 25 from numbers as high as 45 aspirants. The tounament doesn't start until January but most will be training daily and will go into residential camps after Christmas for the two weeks before the start of the tournament. The tournament starts with 88 teams with representatives from most of the major professional clubs from around Brazil and others selected by their respective State associations. That is 2,200 players. Every year some new superstars come out of this tournament (Alexandre Pato played in 2006 and a Bayern and Real Madrid target, Breno, played this past January).

From the The Times and found at www.timesonline.co.uk

Brazilian factory where child labour enhances national pride

by Rick Broadbent

November 28, 2007

The popular, romanticised belief is that in Brazil players learn on the streets. The truth is different.

It is not about the beach. “Pelé never played on a bloody beach.” Nor is it about facilities. “We trained Micah Richards on Roundhay Park.” It is about a deep-seated cultural malaise that means our footballers are lazy and the coaches poorer than those in São Paulo’s most diseased favela.

This is the sort of abrasive wake-up call that meant Simon Clifford was never going to fit in at Southampton, where he was recruited as Sir Clive Woodward’s right-hand man. It duly went sour amid a dressing-room bust-up with Dave Bassett and much mockery of his perceived ball-juggling. Yet Clifford’s faith in Brazilian coaching methodology had already caused him to throw in his job and spend his savings on a trip to South America. A decade on, he is a millionaire on the back of his Brazilian Soccer Schools. Something, as a graduate such as Richards would testify, is working.

The popular, romanticised belief is that in Brazil players learn on the streets. The truth is different. Clifford first became intrigued by Brazil when he befriended Juninho, who was staggered by what he had found in England when he joined Middlesbrough.

“He came over here on four times the money he was used to and he expected things to be four times better,” Clifford said. “But São Paulo had five training centres like nothing you’d ever seen and Middlesbrough were training in a prison with dog s*** on the pitch.”

By contrast, in São Paulo, where Juninho and Pelé grew up, each youth player is given a specific technical programme and weekly blood samples are taken. But the facilities and the back-up are not really the issue. Pelé and Ronaldinho were brought up playing futebol de salão, an abridged version of the game played on a basketball court-sized pitch with a small ball. By necessity, skills are honed quicker, the long ball is impossible and players learn how to beat a man.

In England, coaching drills are based largely upon passing and there may be one ball between a group in a 90-minute session; in Brazil everybody has a ball for 40 per cent of the time. As in the Netherlands, there are no leagues for young players. The goals are fun and development.

Another national stereotype that is a myth is that we have a harder work ethic than the more naturally talented South Americans. Brazilian junior players train for four hours a day, over here it is less than four hours a week. When Clifford advocated a Brazilian regime at Southampton he was told that he was risking injuries. “When I first went to Brazil it blew my mind,” Clifford said. “It was like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Our own factory, by contrast, remains closed.

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Thanks for the video! I watched it all, very interesting.

One question I would have is with the U13 kids in Brazil training 5 times a week, how is their education taken care of? I have a feeling that it isn't very high on the priority list, something that is not the case in the USA or in Canada.

However, the whole philosophy of ball control and smooth play is impressive. Also the effect that parents can have is also an eye opener.

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On education, the best youth clubs use quality education as a selling feature. Of course, it sells because quality education is not within reach for the lower income classes under normal conditions.

Quality healthcare is also offered by some.

Another point, very few kids play at the youth level outside their hometowns. Some will make moves in their teens but usually with the support as above and usually to a nearby city.

Then if you think about it, most students in North America rarely spend more than 5-6 hours in school. There are a lot of hours available outside of school. 13 year olds are not likely to spend more than four hours with training (getting to, practice, getting home. This is all time that would likely have been spent playing soccer with friends anyway.

If you are a Sao Paulo kid taken into the Palmeiras, Sao Paulo FC, or Corinthians youth system, you would be so envied. As a result, you could never allow yourself to fail. Playing professional soccer is a credible profession in Brazil an if you were accepted into their youth system at 13, it would be assumed that you were something special. Even though some lesser known systems are equally as good like Pao de Acucar (its U15 and U17 teams are in the Sao Paulo finals for these age groups), Barueri (U14 Sao Paulo state champion, U17 quarter finalist, U21 Champion in a major Sao Paulo tournament), Primeira Camisa,Desportiva Brasil (masquerading as Sao Bento in the U20 semifinals).

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