Tuesday, June 8, 2010

World Cup soccer groupies

I wrote my column today about two unusual World Cup soccer groupies -- a couple of high school teachers from Iredell County who have attended the past four World Cups and have tickets for No.5 later this month in South Africa.

I'm the stereotypical American with regard to the World Cup -- don't much care about the qualifying tournaments, but then start paying attention just before it starts. I am looking forward to the tournament (it runs from June 11 through July 11), especially the first-round U.S.-England game.

One thing I didn't get in the story: I talked to these two teachers (Terry Shinn and Greg Crowley) a little bit about coaching youth soccer. I've dabbled in it, and I have a 9-year-old son who loves to play.

Both Crowley and Shinn have extensive coaching resumes around here at the youth level -- they have even taken teams of local youth to go play soccer in tournaments in Great Britain.

The two told me that the best thing for a kid to do if he wants to practice soccer is:

1) Make sure he's working on both feet equally (i.e. shooting with your "off" foot a lot). and....
2) Learn how to juggle the ball with ease.

Crowley told me he once had a conversation with an English youth soccer coach about juggling. He asked the coach how many times most of his kids could generally juggle it in a row before the ball hit the ground.

"I don't know," the English coach said. "I never really counted."

"No, really, how many?" Crowley persisted.

"I really don't know," the English coach said. "How many touches would you have in 20 minutes?"

It turned out that most of the kids on that English team could juggle a soccer ball, yes, for 20 minutes straight without it hitting the ground.


Anonymous said...

The English coaching influence on US soccer is the reason we have so many players who are equally mediocre with either foot, rather than truly outstanding left or right footed players. How many great basketball players have you seen shoot equally well with either hand?

Scott Fowler said...

Would Charles Shackleford count? (This in reference to an old joke -- longtime ACC fans will likely get it).

Heath said...

The English coaching influence is the reason we also have more and more American players able to compete on the international level. With players like Dempsey, Beasley, Spector and Onyewu playing in the English Premier League, the influence of English coaching is also allowing the US to develop more recognition and better talent back home.

Anonymous said...

Who is coaching England right now?

James said...

Anonymous (1)

Football isn't basketball. The primary difference in shooting is that in football you usually shoot with one of two parts of your body that support your weight. There come times where it is not possible to use your preferred foot and it is important to develop the other one. Transferring the ball from one hand to the other to shoot in basketball is almost always possible.


As kind as your comment is, I'm not sure it's so much exclusively our coaching as the fact those are great players who get to play in a great league. The Premier League (like football in general) is really a thoroughly international affair, the only English feature is the geography and that it has thankfully kept up the original English high speed that makes Italian Serie A look pedestrian by comparison (although the Italian clubs are certainly not worse in ability). The US should by rights be a football powerhouse, you just need to accept it in your national psyche (as a wussy alternative to gridiron and something you are not yet world beaters at) and enhance the state of your domestic professional game.

Anonymous (2)

Fabio Capello, an Italian lad.

BTW We're reasonably happy with the 1-1 draw, you guys are a useful side.

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Both Crowley and Shinn have extensive coaching resumes around here at the youth level -- they have even taken teams of local youth to go play soccer in tournaments in Great Britain.

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The world is filled with these kind of soccer players all around!