killing creativity

I have heard Spanish and Brazilian TV commentators call it "fantasy football". It explains why AC Milan, Valencia and other top clubs coughed up millions for the likes of Pato and Banega.

I have heard Spanish and Brazilian TV commentators call it "fantasy football". It explains why AC Milan, Valencia and other top clubs coughed up millions for the likes of Pato and Banega.

What is becoming increasingly evident is that clubs and national teams that are forced to use players with limitations in both their ability and game mentality will be left behind.

The problem is that they cannot match the complex challenges of the fast-growing trend of inspirational and innovative football, also known as fantasy football.

England's dismal failure to qualify for Euro 2008 has been followed by repeated calls for radical measures to develop a modern type of player, one equipped with skills to compete successfully at the highest level, with the capacity to control play and improvise.

Sir Trevor Brooking concludes that the answer to this vital challenge is "to go back to the beginning in order to go forward. It is needed because before we expect a new breed of players to be developed we must change completely the current football mentality".

Obviously, the obsolete game mentality, which presently is constantly reinforced, that governs the way football is played at the top, filters down to youth coaches and their products. Also, "as seen on TV" becomes a powerful source for maintaining retrograde football.

Carlos Alberto fully endorses Brooking's view and does not mince his words when he says ofthe English and other European players "sometimes they play as is if they do not feel the game.

"They never change the style, they never improvise. They put the high ball into the area and try to head it in, but have no other technical answers.

"This mentality must change because others have changed it already."

Several technical personalities in England and across Europe have exposed the old-fashion trend which, from an early age right up to the professional game, emphasises coaching on fitness, running, more running and strength, speed and power, passion and determination but does not focus on the core development of technique, creativity and diversity.

This mentality has built-in destructive influences, as explained by Andy Smith: "I remember Joe Cole when he first came on the scene. Skills, exciting style, confidence and results. Had he continued that way, he would be like Ronaldinho or C [Cristiano] Ronaldo.

"Somehow, all this was criminally coached out of him and he is now just another long-ball Premier League player, barely interesting to watch. Typical of primitive football."

Sadly, the list of similar casualties throughout the football spectrum is endless, and has taken a particularly heavy toll on African players.

For years, the US women's national team dominated the international stage through raw athleticism and power.

"They can no longer get away with that approach alone," warns Derek Rae in his analysis of US football.

"Teams of superior technical quality, for example the Brazilian side that thrashed the US 4-0 in the semifinal of the 2007 World Cup, have caught up and overtaken the American women. The only solution is to change course in the way both male and female players are developed by placing primary emphasis on superior technique.

"Robust football with limited technique is no longer productive at the top level of international football."

Statistics show that demand for players who are the product of ''athletic football", with only basic skill, is diminishing in the international market. The same applies coaches with a stereotype and rigid mentality.

Surely, this message has universal significance since the widely used concept of dominance through football athleticism still remains a major source of uninspiring football around the world.

Unfortunately, the damage caused by the failing old game philosophy expanding into Africa as some European countries still maintain their zones of influence on the continent. - The FootballInstitute (Pty) Ltd

lWatch out for part 3 next week