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Protect Our Youths Before Its Too Late


The FA’s ‘Respect’ campaign predicates around preserving the foundations of our beautiful game. One way the ‘Respect’ campaign aims to pursue this emanates from improving parent-to-child relationship. Especially preserving young kids, who will be the next generation of English football.

Extracted from the FA website, “This club is supporting The FA’s Respect programme to ensure football can be enjoyed by everyone in a safe and positive environment.“

WARNING: This is not a boring lecture about the FA’s code of conduct; I do have a point to this.

The Football Association, those who govern our game in England are a lot of things (preferably bad things), but in this very situation they can be deemed as a bunch of hypocrites.

In light of last weeks International fixtures distraction (which I think is a whole bunch of unnecessary) saw England being handed a master-class from a certain pompous Swede. Before I go on let’s have a moment of silence to bask in the grandeur of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 4th goal…

Now, where my problem lies is with the premature international call-ups that Roy Hodgson and England hand out to practically anyone.

Exhibit A: Wilfred Zaha, Raheem Sterling have already been exposed to first team International football at such a young and tender age. Look around Europe, particularly at the major nation sides, it is almost unprecedented to have a player from outside the top tier of football to be handed an international cap.

I understand that England have now decided to take a leaf out of Spain, Brazil and Germany’s books to implement young talent into their sides, though I think that England have missed the boat slightly.

Partially the blame can fall onto the media, who play a fundamental part in boosting a young player’s profile. Now I’m not taking away anything from Zaha or Sterling but for me they should not have been given call-ups.

At such a young age, already to be given a taste of International life can be hazardous down the line. Whether it gives birth to an exaggerated ego or the players just becoming burnt out on the physical side, these are the major effects that lie if mistreated.

In club football aren’t youth players baby-stepped into the first team setup? Its almost unusual for such players to be thrown into the deep end; I’ve seen it happen on numerous occasions.

I could be wrong however. I could just be taking this whole situation out of context. At the polar opposite perhaps these premature call-ups are the result of England not having a big enough talent pool compared to other nations. Thus, as the result of scarce talent being produced, these players get a boost as default.

If you look at Spain, Brazil or maybe Germany who are all renowned for producing an endless supply of fine youth talent, and it seems as though England are a couple streets behind on this aspect.

I’ve always questioned why English players do not go abroad to further their ability, education. Perhaps this factor will forever hold back England as a team.

My original premise pertained the FA’s ‘Respect’ campaign, which was all about protecting the foundations of our game. So I ask you all now, how is handing out call-ups to players who aren’t even ready different from FA’s ‘Respect’ campaign?

Yvens Tiamou