Posts Tagged ‘Pele’

Size Does Not Matter

April 6, 2010
What do Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona and Brazil’s Pele have in common besides being international superstars and most likely in the Top 10 list of all-time soccer greats? They are all short.
  • Messi is 5′ 6.5″
  • Maradona is 5′ 5″
  • Pele is 5′ 8″

I hate it when I hear coaches place so much emphasis on size and height. Emphasis on speed I can understand. I also think height is important for a goalie. But to dismiss or overlook a player because of his/her physical stature is a huge mistake. Size does not matter!

Over the years, I have found many reasons why size is not important:

  • Shorter players have a lower center of gravity, making it much easier to dribble, make fakes and feints, and change direction.
  • Never underestimate the toughness of a short player. These players are usually tougher and more physical than taller players.
  • Before the age of 14 or 15, headers play a very insignificant part in a soccer game. Being able to out-jump someone for a header is of little value.

Regarding headers; height does help; no doubt about it. But so, too, do timing and jumping ability. Check out these amazing headers by the aforementioned superstars.

  • Messi’s 2009 UEFA Championship goal against Manchester City. Look how Messi reached back to head the ball.
  • Maradona’s ‘Hand-of-God’ goal in the 1986 World Cup against England. Though Maradona used his hand to score the goal (see images below), I’m still amazed when I look at the video. In real-time, it still looks like a legitimate header. Though it should not have counted, Maradona still had to get off the ground a good distance (the second picture shows how short Maradona is).

  • Pele’s goal in the 1970 World Cup Final against Italy. Look how high he got.

Remember coaches, just because soccer is called football throughout the world except in the United States, don’t place the same importance on size and height that American football coaches do. Otherwise, you may be overlooking the next Messi, or in my case, the next me.

Photo of the 1975 or 1976  Odd Grenland Ballklubb youth team. I was 9 or 10 at the time. Would I (red arrow) have been overlooked by many coaches today?

Good Captain Examples

October 15, 2009

I always like to see or hear about good soccer captains in action, especially at the youth level. This past Sunday, I was fortunate to witness 2 such captains.

The first example involved a U15 game I center refereed. The captain for the away team was a phenomenal athlete, scored a hat-trick which included an incredible diving header and a dummy that he dummied to himself similar to Pele’s attempt the 1970 World Cup (see below). Yet he was extremely humble, very well-mannered, and did everything in his power to always avoid making contact with the opposing goalie.

The other example involved my daughter’s U18 team.

My daughter was having words with some of the opposing players during the game. After her team won 1-0 and the teams met to shake hands, one of the opposing players deliberately retracted her hand from my daughter. When this happened, my daughter looked back said some not-too-choice words. Then she was intentionally showered with water.

My daughter was already in a bad mood. She was lectured to by the referee during the game and she did not get as much playing time as she thought she deserved. Then she was showered by her own captain. That was the last straw. She collected her bag and went to sit in the car. Who could blame her?

To the captain’s credit, she sought out my daughter. She first found my wife and shared with her what had happened.  The captain witnessed the whole incident … the retracting of the hand and the words that followed. Knowing my daughter, she was concerned that the situation could potentially escalate and turn ugly. With little time to react, the she decided to literally and figuratively cool things down.

My wife directed the captain to our car where my daughter and she talked it out and put the incident behind them.

Though her method was unconventional, I want to give the captain her ‘props’. During the traditional handshake, she was doing what all captains should do … reading the situation and looking out for their teammates. She did not let the situation get out of control because of a disrespectful act. And most importantly, she sought out my daughter to explain her actions and make sure my daughter was OK. Had that final conversation not taken place, my daughter would have carried that resentment with her for a long time. As it turns out, my daughter now respects the captain even more, as do my wife and I.

Good job captains. Keep up the good work.

If you have good examples, it would be great if you shared them with us.