Every sporting legend started out as a dreamer. Dreams motivated by their environment and what they see. They start out first by imitating and then end up as pioneers or experts. Usain Bolt grew up as a Michael Johnson fan (the legendary American 400-metres Olympic Gold Medallist) but today, Bolt is a much bigger legend.
Lionel Messi grew up emulating Argentine star Diego Maradona and today to many kids he is arguably a bigger legend.
All over Africa today the English Premier League is the most watched league in the world, certainly because it is the most spectacular league. This certainly has an influence on the kind of players we now produce and will do in the future.
However, it has been ages since any player from the Premier League was the recipient of Fifa’s world’s best player award.
English club sides have been waning in influence in the Champions League and the last time England won any major adult title as a nation, yours truly was not born yet as it was in 1966. (The 1966 World Cup which they hosted)
In 1990 Cameroon dazzled the world from Africa with the legendary Roger Mila as its leading star. Parading stars mainly from the French League Cameroon’s playing style was moulded around the French league coupled with the Cameroonian power football. Its most followed league was the French one.
The years 1994, 1996 and 1998 saw Nigeria stun the world, wining African and world adult titles; parading stars from the Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Belgian leagues — all leagues that were well followed by Nigerians.
There must be a reason why the Germans and Spanish Clubs dominate world club and national football today. It’s been the case for a decade now on a non-stop basis and it keeps producing world class youth players who are educated from the national league playing philosophies.
The style of play that a nation plays is often successful when it is built around a certain playing module that suits the physiological and psychological attributes of that nation, once one is missing, the final result is failure.
Please do not get me wrong, I am in no way saying the English Premier League is not good enough, I for one don’t miss any weekend games and we place “healthy” bets in my family on the results.
But I do feel that judging by the evolution of world football there are certain winning attributes that are lacking in this league and that its imitation handicaps the progress of African football.
I personally believe that following the Spanish and German leagues closer, combined with our African leagues and playing style, will be more beneficial to us in our production of more complete teams and players.
The money in the English Premier League will definitely continue to attract our African stars and eventually their national TV airtime, but it is not just by chance that the style of play practiced by the Spanish and Germans is what wins trophies these days.
What is the playing style of the Germans and the Spanish you might ask? Well, in a nutshell it is one where the ball is worked from one section through the rest and schemes are pre-planned and little is left to chance. Everything is based on prepared schemes.
Off course this takes a lot of work and patience to achieve, but I feel if we as Africans want to start winning trophies again, worldwide, at adult level, we have no choice but to start imitating and eventually try to better the champions and their national leagues.