Wednesday, 17 June 2009

PLAY football

Roger Spry has spent the last 25 years in 18 different countries as a conditioning coach, working with players like Portuguese internationals Luis Figo and Deco. Here is an extract from a BBC interview.

"English football traditionally has always been based on athletics, we are taught to be athletically and physically strong.

"But in Portugal and South America, the game is based on dance-like movements.
"They emphasise creativity, physical agility and dexterity and above all the ability to disguise.

"I work on a combination of fitness, agility, mobility, with and without the ball - call it technical conditioning."

The pursuit for the missing component has taken him to Portugal and Brazil, where he learned the 'Joga Bonita' philosophy was based around a martial art banned by the Brazilian government.

Capoeira is a 'fight-dance' martial art which was practised by enslaved Africans transported over to Brazil by the Portuguese in the 19th century.

The movements rely on surprise and improvisation, two integral traits of the Brazilian football philosophy.

"I would say 99% of Brazilian players's movements are based on Capoeria," said Spry, a fluent Portuguese speaker.

"Players are taught them as a part of their coaching curriculum, using these skills to read their opponent's movements.

"That is what Cristiano Ronaldo or Figo will do.

"These guys are very difficult to read because they never do the same thing twice. All their moves are based in their opponent's initial response to their first movements."

"It's like teaching someone to write - you teach them the alphabet but what they write is down to their creativity."

"We are more interested at winning at a young age, we must get out of this mentality," said Spry.

"You see it at six, young kids playing with parents and coaches screaming at them, the kids are terrified. There are none of those pressures on Portuguese or Brazilian players.

"They are more interested in development. They have a wonderful saying in Portuguese - when you start playing football, the word is play football and you don't spell play 'WORK'.

"Football is freedom and expression, joy - it is a spiritual experience with your friends whether you are playing with or against them."

1 comment:

  1. If you need more anecdotes from this philosophy please do not hesitate to contact me,
    Roger spry.