Football is a sport that has both stood the test of time and manages to traverse political and personal divides, not to mention international conflict and war zones, with reports of a game even being played between English and German troops in no man’s land on Christmas Day 1915 during the First World War.
When Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010, there were seemingly nothing but positive reports from the visiting fans, and pictures portrayed a happy crowd united in one common goal – a love of the game.
From its formation, football’s popularity seems to have rested on its simplicity. The fact that all you need is a ball and a space is an indicator of why it has always had such wide appeal. In a contemporary context, the simplicity of it also means that it is something that can be played both on your own in the form of drills, and with as few players as two, which means children of all ages can occupy themselves, and practice in their own time.
Former Editor of the FA website, and author of the Jamie Johnson book series, Dan Freedman, says: “It’s beautiful, simple and cheap to play. It has a language, which transcends counties, cultures and religions. It’s dramatic, unpredictable, painful and rewarding. And that moment of a goal is unparalleled in any other sport.“
Of course, the celebrity endorsement and high media coverage that the sport now benefits from, along with high wages, and sense of communal victory that it inspires also have a part to play in its enduring appeal. Coach, Scott Johnson, whose club, Ashton Town FC, says: “it’s a way towards celebrity status due to the high wages offered to professional players. In this media age and the history we have, it is a business available 24 hours a day.”
Football coach, Bill Gill, says: “The promotion of football by ambassadors like David Beckham and other celebrity icons as well as TV and other media influences affect both children and parents”, contributing to the propagation of the sport’s popularity.
Of course, one thing, as with all sport that has to be considered is the simple element of exercise, producing endorphins, which is particularly potent thanks to the group aspect of football. Johnson agrees, saying: “As a player there is a sense of togetherness, team spirit and keeping healthy … it’s addictive!”
There are many factors that boil down to football’s popular appeal, and no doubt over time they will be added to. However, one thing will always remain constant about the beautiful game, and is the reason that kids from one to 92 will always be fascinated … it’s simple.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Author Bio: Lyndon Ogden is a passionate supporter of sports for children and a shareholder in myskillz which features football drills for children on its website.