It’s 1970, Jairzinho marauds forward at the English defence with the ball, as if on a string, a few blades of grass ahead of him. World Cup winning captain, wall of defence and dragon slayer, Bobby Moore stopped Jairzinho in his tracks with one of the most famous tackles of all time. Moore, the embodiment of English spirit, rightly gained widespread accolade but Brazil and England would spend the next forty years on divergent paths toward and away from tournament success.
With the 2014 World Cup looming into view, Midlands grassroots initiative, Samba Soccer Schools (SSS) is trying to get these two great football nations back in alignment by teaching football the Brazilian way.
The organisation offers professional football coaching for children and young people from five to sixteen, as well as providing access to employment opportunities. The aim is to add flair to youngsters’ games while using football as a vehicle to develop confidence, discipline, and knowledge in young people.
The schools were founded by graduate Nilio Bagga in 2009. Bagga quickly used links to young people while studying sociology at London School of Economics to access local communities and deliver football programme, starting out in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.
Since then, Samba Soccer Schools has extended to deliver a range of programmes in the West Midlands and continues to grow in other areas in the UK, with the first phase of the London project successfully launched in Hayes, west London, yesterday.
The organisation believes the key difference between Brazilian and English football can be neatly captured in Neymar’s motto; “Ousadia e Alegria” which means ‘Boldness and Joy’. Or as Robinho says, “Man, you can’t just play football, you’ve got to have the sway”.
In contrast with England’s tactical style of play, many Brazilians grow up playing five a-side football, utilising a weighted size two Futebol de salao ball. The combination of a small pitch and the use of a size two ball results in perfecting individual technique and skill as more time spent with the ball at the feet.
To date, over 1,000 young people have enrolled to experience the schools’ unique training methods. Bagga founded the schools on the mantra of American basketball star John Woodon, who said “a coach is someone who gives correction without causing resentment”.
“It was from Nilio’s experiences and observation of football coaches in the UK that inspired him to seek change in coaching methods and practices,” says Baljit Rihal, director of Samba Soccer Schools London and FA licensed football agent.
“Over the years, he had noticed a trend of autocratic coaches who adopted an authoritarian, demanding and aggressive approach to coaching. He found that this style of coaching only had the effect of reducing young people’s confidence, passion and self-esteem. As a result, Nilio developed and refined his idea of a technique based and Brazilian flavoured soccer school in 2008 as a response to his observations”, added Rihal.
The organisation is designed to “inject some creativity” combined with a winning mentality into the game ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
This ethos is summed up well by six-year-old attendee Jacob Mullins. “Coach Nilio is such an easy going guy – if you got stuck in training or stuck learning how to do a trick he would help you by making the steps very simple. He was also a great laugh,” he says.
But the coaching doesn’t stop at just football. SSS teaches young people to play to the sound of samba music. “Brazilians treat the ball as a partner in a dance, with a harmonious interaction between the two creating beautiful and effective football. We therefore play different types of Samba music according to the intensity of sessions,” says Rihal.
Initially, Samba Soccer Schools only offered a single six-week course but demand necessitated its services to expand to include a range of courses such as two and three day bootcamps, carnivals, birthday parties and many more.
This month, the social enterprise made its biggest move yet – entering London with events at the Goals Soccer Centre in Hayes. It has partnered with Inventive Sports to make the move and believes the capital’s multiculturalism will play into its hands. This has been boosted by support from leading anti-discrimination body, Kick it Out.
The expansion into London will allow SSS to get its central short-term goals – to play with freedom, learn, have fun and find a sense of identity – to more people. Looking further ahead, the plan is to grow internationally and establish links with professional club sides.
Bagga concludes: “As anticipation mounts for the Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup, there is no better time to translate the excitement into new ideas that empower youth.”
Tags: Community Matters, Neymar, Nilio Bagga, Robinho, Samba Soccer Schools