Tzatziki Taka Football

Wed 17 July 2013

Case studies and success stories

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Disgusting chants and tribalism, cheating and aggression. As football is all too often surrounded by misery and is increasingly treated as a cash cow rather than the people’s game, it is easily forgotten why we love the whole damn thing in the first place. 

Then something like this happens and it’s like falling in love with your partner of 40 years all over again.

AO Giannina, a youth team from Greece, created a goal of stunning collective beauty, thus managing to instil as much feel good factor as a John Lewis Christmas advert.

Straight from kick-off, this team of kids proceeded to send the ball on a 20 pass conveyor belt of impressive technique and vision.

This is certainly a style of football that is liked by We Make Footballers Academy.

Alan Hansen famously once said, “You’ll never win anything with kids”. Whilst he was proved wrong by that young Man United side, AO Giannina also managed to win something in the cynical adult world. More than their 6-1 victory, that goal captured the hearts and faith of a footballing community too frequently engulfed in negativity.

Credit must go to the coach of this young team because the beauty in such a team goal, unlike a long-range screamer, is that it cannot happen by accident. A goal like this is an embodiment of a philosophy.

The technical practice that has gone into creating such an able young side is immensely admirable. Not preoccupied by winning through big or athletic kids, this appears to be a team built on ability of mind and body. The passing, the receiving, the shielding of the ball and the dribbling. All done with aplomb. The other day I encountered a great quote from an exciting, young British coaching company We Make Footballers, “Technique before tactics”. The fledglings from AO Giannina showed prodigious technical ability. Their play would not be out of place at Barcelona’s La Masia academy.

The weight of the pass was always spot on too, making the receivers job easier. Wonderful stuff. Even the goalkeeper chucked in a cheeky Cruyff turn to keep possession. No panic under pressure, instead we were treated to skill and intelligence. There were no terrified shouts of “Don’t lose it there!”

A defender peeled of to be behind the keeper, thus creating an angle to receive possession. How many times have we all been encouraged to “get rid” instead of being told to be calm an thoughtful?

The patient build up wasn’t undermined by moans about their “tippy tappy” football.

How many times have we heard a bobbly pitch like the one in Greece be used as an excuse to not play the ball on the floor? “It’s not a pitch for that. Use the wind.”

The innocence of youth was also reflected in their opponents Atromitos. Their honest if ultimately futile effort to stop this attack would be less likely as they grew up. As we all get older that innocence and honesty gets replaced by a sinister gamesmanship. We become a lot more accustomed to the win at all costs attitude and gradually we are introduced to the dark arts of “smart fouls”.

One of the main reasons to love our four-time Balon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is that his style of play is reminiscent of a kid in the playground revelling in the game he loves. There have been some great team goals in adult football that we all remember and adore. The obvious example is that by Carlos Alberto in the great 1970 Brazil side.

I was also there in Gelsenkirchen in 2006 when my Serbia and Montenegro team was destroyed 6-0 by the best team at that World Cup, Argentina. Esteban Cambiasso scored a poetic second goal. Whilst I was disappointed I stood up and applauded the genius team goal. Sometimes there are moments that are so great, so beautiful, they put aside allegiances and the weight of results alone to restore your factory settings as a lover of the beautiful game.

AO Giannina did just that. 

Written By Vojin Soskic

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