How hard can football be?

The slightest mis-control or bad pass can infuriate footballing fans and can lead to a chorus of boos as the players leave the pitch at the end of a match. Whilst watching football it all looks so easy, and it’s just as easy to criticise players because you believe they should be playing better; but is the game really that difficult?

The answer is yes. I play for my local team called Folkestone Invicta who play in the Ryman Premier League in Kent. In the past I’ve represented my county and played at a fairly high level, so when I got called up to the first team for my debut in a pre-season friendly I was quietly confident. However, 45 minutes later I was brought firmly back to earth and remembered that playing men’s football is big step up from the youth team. There was me; a tall, scrawny looking 17 year old kid thrown into the team to play against huge, fully grown men.

The referee blew his whistle to begin the match and as I stood in my left back position I felt relatively comfortable. As the match progressed though the opponents, a league above had a different quality about them. They were stronger, quicker and better with the ball which, as a result led to me finding it terribly difficult and I was eventually substituted at half time. I didn’t do anything wrong but there was also nothing spectacular about my performance, however I was delighted that I had managed to get through it.

The point I’m trying to make is that we all believe that playing football looks so straightforward, but in reality it is anything but that. The standard that I played at in that pre-season game was nowhere near as good as the dizzy heights of the Premier League but it was still testing to say the least.

The fans of the modern game get frustrated with the players more and more these days and I do understand where they’re coming from. Take Wayne Rooney for example, he’ll be getting paid around £10 million per year and so supporters tend to not have sympathy for him when he makes a mistake. On that amount of money they expect high performances and lots of goals. Now I agree that the amount of money footballers earn is obscene but, at the end of the day they are human beings and make mistakes. No amount of money will change that and despite getting paid a lot, Rooney can’t be expected to score hat tricks every single game he plays.

When all is said and done, no one can take away that professional footballers are immensely talented individuals. The intensity and speed of the beautiful game in this modern society will evidently create mistakes and we can’t expect players to be perfect all the time.

Chris Cardon


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