Welcome to Sports Spotlight. Every week, InQuire will be taking on a new sporting activity for the benefit of those interested in diving into something to get fit. Or those just wanting some ideas. These articles will be posted every weekend, with the lowdown on how to make the most out of the weekly chosen sport and many top tips on how to be a pro.
This week it is…football
Far from the most obscure sport, football can often get lost amongst the glitz and glamour of the Premier League, the big wages and the Neymars of this world. The extraordinary commercialisation of the game has seen many forget its humble origins as simply a competition between 22 players jostling to get a ball into the opposition goal. There’s a reason why it’s the most popular sport in the world – it encourages not just skill and technique, but teamwork and camaraderie and there’s no greater feeling than sticking the ball in the back of the net.
The different positions
Goalkeeper – The one between the sticks. He must keep the ball out from going into his net with any part of his body. Flexibility and quick feet is required for this role, with goalkeepers expected to sling themselves across the area to prevent shots from all angles. An extremely rewarding experience if you know what you’re doing – an absolute nightmare, however, if you are not prepared to face down shots and get hurt.
Defence – The players tasked with repelling the other teams’ attack. In order to defend you have to be quick, agile and a good reader of the other players. It’s a mostly thankless task and you’ll spend a large portion of the day chasing down speedy attacking players and putting your foot in where it hurts. If you are successful, then, you’ll require bravery, discipline and physical toughness.
Midfield – The most important part of the team, arguably. The midfielders keep everything ticking along and there are a variety of different roles one can take. At its most basic, you can be a defensive midfielder and be responsible for shielding the defence, an attacking midfielder, tasked with creating opportunities and chances for the forward players, or something in between, where you’re required to get up and down the field and contribute everywhere. Regardless of what precise job you have, to be a competent midfielder you need awareness, good decision-making and an extraordinary pair of lungs.
Attack – The most decorated position on the field. To win in a game of football, you must simply score more goals than the opposing team and the attackers, in whatever form they come, are tasked with putting the ball in the back of the net. Goals pay the rent, as one commentator famously quipped. While forwards come
in many different shapes and sizes, you’ll be best placed if you are quick, strong and have good finishing.
TOP TIPS FOR BECOMING A TOP FOOTBALL PLAYER
To become a top player, you must fundamentally understand the game. Football is a complex hive of strategy and tactics and far exceeds the simplistic guidelines I’ve provided above. To become good at football you must understand your role and your position in the team, both on the field and in relation to your teammates. You must of course also become skilful and dexterous with your two feet and understand how to manipulate the ball at your will. Here are three main points it is also worth baring in mind –
FITNESS – In some sports you can get away with lacking fitness. Football is not one of them. To succeed in this arduous and physically taxing game you must have incredible stamina and physical resources, meaning cutting down on the fatty foods and cultivating yourself in the gym.
INTELLIGENCE – The elusive “football brain” is often spoken about by pundits because of how important it is to grasp the beautiful game. There are several professional football players who would struggle to remember the alphabet but yet possess a wonderful understanding of how this game of human-sized chess pieces work. You need to become one of them.
ENJOYMENT – This is crucial. Without enjoyment, football can become an arduous and boring game. Grab some friends, find a field and (preferably on a cool sunny day) get a ball out and get going. Only by enjoying this sport can you truly conquer it.
Biggest Pro … I say it again, there are few pleasures in life greater than negotiating the ball into the net past a well-drilled defence.
Biggest Con … Such a tiring sport and, when played professionally, injuries are common and virtually unavoidable.
OVERALL RATINGS OF THE SPORT
Comment: Of course it depends on the game you are partaking in, but generally this is a sport that will squeeze every last drop of sweat from your skin.
Comment: Using jumpers or bags as posts and having a ball is all the equipment you need.
Comment: If your fitness isn’t tip-top, it’s amazing how long it feels some games drag on for.
Comment: Nobody gets left out and everyone contributes. It’s the perfect team sport.