As I sit and ponder all I want to achieve and future projects that I intend to run, the question ‘What has Street Soccer done for me?’ constantly beats within my head. Street Soccer has had a profound impact on my life, there are only a few other things that have done so. One being another sport I feel passionate about Tae Kwon Do, the others being people that are dearly close to me. Family and friends and those that have inspired me and given me opportunities along the way in my life!
It may seem silly to many out there that this is so, but for whatever reason Street Soccer has strung a beating tune that has affected me right to the core. At first I was just inspired by the coaching method laid out to me by Darren Laver, how it already struck similar beats to the way Pro Skills Coaching involved skill development into our program. I say our program, even though Pro Skills Coaching was a birth child of Mark Senior he has offered those who work under the company name enormous freedom to explore and develop the way we coach children. This may just be my experience but after seeing his work and sessions before starting my own journey, it’s very difficult to not fully embrace the way he coaches. Soon enough you start to see the little things work with the children you have the opportunity to coach and it only reinforces those beliefs and ideas you have.
The thing that struck me the most though about the Street Soccer method of coaching that Darren proposed to myself and other coaches back on a cold autumn night in October 2012, was the freedom the method gave to those taking part. There was a certain purity to the way a session could ‘flow’ that I was eager to test, with beliefs already installed from Mark and the extra knowledge Darren provided in terms of the Socratic method of questioning, the psychological look into how a brain works and the knowledge supplied about nurturing creativity.
I was eager to trial this with those I coached.
The first thing that struck me was the complete enjoyment factor that the children were having in sessions and how much I was already beginning to enjoy the dynamic of the session. The children already enjoyed some of the problem solving small sided games that we were using anyway, but the ‘flow’ in which they were now encased in just made them take on a new life. The only problem I really lacked is that despite around 20 basic skills I had little knowledge or experience to really develop an even more incredible atmosphere and environment as that wow factor still wasn’t quite there yet, but the foundations were being set.
After working more closely with Darren at an event. I realised then that to make what I was doing even better I needed that wow factor, I needed to improve my own skill development. I started a slow process that wouldn’t really take shape for a few more months, but learnt a few moves that would set me in good stead for further development; I was beginning to find YouTube an effective tool and the ball at my feet an incredibly freeing exercise. After attending the next course in Creative Skills Coaching held by Mark at the then Pro Skills head office, and led by Darren again, I would get a little justification into what a brief personal skill development period had done for me. It may sound silly but I didn’t feel uncomfortable in games against players that were far better than I would have been a few months prior.
I got to play and meet a YouTube personality that had also helped my first steps into skill development. Steve Roberts from the STR Skill School channel. When I met Steve he was on the cusp of good things, had Steve not attended this same course I was on, I’m not quite sure Steve would have gone onto the success he has recently had. Don’t get me wrong and I definitely don’t mean to speak ill of Steve’s recent success, I think he would have always achieved something and gone onto make some great videos but seeing how his channel shifted slightly is a witness to how profoundly Street Soccer can grasp a person. Steve has had opportunities to meet and film with incredible individuals since that course; several that can have only helped grow the foundations Darren was laying with us. Steve has also helped me again, in advice when I’ve asked regarding filming and editing video’s, Steve also nearly gave me one of the best opportunities to achieve a childhood dream but sadly due to a scheduling mix up I had to turn it down.
Now the topic may seem like it’s slightly jumping off a little but I feel like I can’t effectively write about it without at least these brief moments and histories that have happened as they all reinforced the small journey I was taking.
Over the course Darren played several clips of Street Soccer players and the moves they do, he spoke highly of players he had worked with, had seen or played against. After leaving the course I had already set a plan in action. I would try to learn a basic set of Street Soccer moves to show the children I coached and help sessions become that bit better. I also knew that I would like to film this progress to show that no matter your ability level anybody could improve with a little time and patient.
During this period I would heavily become involved in Street Soccer and start to learn about the culture that was hiding slightly under the surface of this sport and the sport freestyle football. I would also decry other forms of coaching quite vocally for a period, not out spite or even hate towards them but more out of trying to defend against those that were quite willing to question and slam the benefits of Street Soccer, without ever seeing or beginning to look at the method any closer than the name.
As I developed and worked on improving my skill set, I started to feel a little of the culture reach out to me. From time to time I would get a few messages from what I would later find out to be very good street players in their own right. Most of these messages were of support; in fact only one was slightly negative but it didn’t deter me in the slightest. The hidden culture I previously discussed is this, those first messages are a testament to it.
The culture I’ve learnt about from Street Soccer is that almost everyone is supportive of you, almost everyone involved in Street Soccer are willing to help you should need that help.
The culture of Street Soccer and Freestyle are to develop the sport as a whole, to spread a passion for what they love to others and if they see you get a little bit of enjoyment like they do, the people of these sports are incredibly proud of that and want to nurture it further. I’ve seen people offer others free accommodation to come play a game with them to people they haven’t met. I’ve seen others go out and help their local communities, after experiencing these feelings of support and help. It’s these same elements that are now pushing me to look further in how I can help those within in my community.
Street Soccer hasn’t made me wish to be a footballer again, I’m over 30 now, that dream died at 13, Street Soccer has made me want to develop and inspire people to better themselves. It has given me immense pride in what little steps of the journey I’ve taken, it’s helping me become a better person and I feel I need to give more back because of that, I want pass on this pride and love of this game and the culture that surrounds it to thousands of others, not the handful I currently do.
So in regards to the question ‘What has Street Soccer done for me?’
It has given me pride and self-belief in what I do. It has given me a larger group of friends to reach out to and learn from. It has helped me become a better coach and skill developer, now I’m not stating in any way that I’m the most knowledgeable of coaches, far from it! But it has helped me build a better understanding for the reason I coach and build a much more fulfilling environment for those that take part. Most of all I believe it has helped me become a better person!
Many other people will get this feeling from other sports maybe even from regular football, but the culture isn’t quite the same, certainly not here anyway! It’s very hard to describe unless you have seen a little or felt a little bit of that culture reach out to you.
I have however included links of some of the videos that may help you understand what I mean here: