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Football Teaches Life.

A guest post from Yido6061

It’s because of football that I know what the capital of Cameroon is. Football has also taught me to make quick mental calculations when working out the possible permutations for final group standings in World Cups.

I also understand how football can be hijacked to serve the purposes of totalitarian propaganda, how it can assimilate all manner of scientific breakthroughs to enrich it as a spectacle and how it can rival any form of dance when it is executed with exquisite precision. In short, football has educated me in ways that transcend the narrow parameters of the pitch or the screen.

It’s because of football that my understanding of the world is a little better.Last Friday saw me teach my final lesson. After seven years, hundreds of essays marked and thousands of lessons, my teaching career came down to one final hour with my Year 11 class. Tears were shed. The girls bought me a football as a parting gift and signed it, making me feel as though I’d scored a hat-trick against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu. We laughed, took silly selfies and before I knew it, it was over with a new life beckoning for my family and me.

The last few days have allowed me to take stock of what exactly teaching meant to me. I’ve realised, although it may have always been obvious, that being a teacher was in many ways like being a football manager. Well, it was in my mind anyway. Perhaps I just suffer from delusions of Jose; stubbled up as I was and suited to the hilt with self-assurance and a repertoire of tics and tricks that I performed on a daily basis

Like a football manager, a teacher needs to be aware of the personalities under his/her tutelage. Sometimes, you’re a bit like Harry Redknapp, metaphorically wrapping your arms around students, talking them up, making them feel important. Other times, you run a classroom with the iron discipline and meticulous attention to detail of an Otto Rehhagel, squeezing every last ounce of potential out of kids that achieve above and beyond the sum of their parts.

It’s an instinctive profession. You never know how it can turn out, whether the tactics you’ve sat up half the night preparing on a Powerpoint presentation will come off. Sometimes they do, other times they don’t. The very best days can make you feel as imperious as Pep Guardiola but the profession can so easily reduce you to the depths of being a spittle-spewing Barry Fry caricature.

To extend the metaphor even further (I’ve done this so often in the classroom over the years that the device is used more out of a force of habit than as a literary conceit), the teacher/manager is always under the scrutiny of those who do not inhabit his/her working environment. New directives, fads, buzzwords are picked up by those dishing out the paycheques and one is forced to perform monkey acts in order to avoid being judged inadequate or facing the sack.

For every appointment of a Director of Football by a clueless board seeking instant fixes and success, see also the perennial chopping and changing of how teachers are graded by those thinking up policies in glass think tanks. In that respect, is Sepp Blatter so different from Michael Gove? Nevertheless and despite of the interference of those with their own craven agendas, football and education in their purest forms always remain the same.

As with anything dreamt up by human beings, they’re about us trying to make sense of what this whole existence thing is really all about. , football and teaching intertwined perfectly for me when I had to deliver one of those interminable PSHE lessons to a group of disaffected Year 8 boys. The outline of the lesson was to lead a discussion on the importance of teamwork using business-inspired team-building games as the framework. I didn’t do that. I showed Maradona’s second against England in 1986 and immediately got the boys to compare it to Argentina’s twenty-six pass masterpiece twenty years later. I then asked them to tell me all the skills required by every player in each position on a football pitch, every boy came out of the lesson engaged and energised. Ofsted would call it “progress”. And the best part? Those same boys kicked a ball about at break, instinctively reducing the game back to its simplicity having just spent an hour getting all philosophical and the like. Some of it forgotten, some of it retained.

Don’t know if I did any good as a teacher. I don’t know if I influenced any lives to a dramatic degree. Those results aren’t tangible in that way for teachers. Well, not for me anyway. I was never much interested in GCSE results. I just wanted them to come way from my lessons having learnt something they didn’t know an hour before and hopefully might remember it in later life. And to have laughed. Always to have laughed.

In the same way, I’m not sure what, if anything, watching and writing about football so often has achieved other than a sense of fueling personal vanity, challenge and pride. There are people out there writing proper, serious stuff. About wars and housing booms and Chris and Gwyneth. But I do know that in a strange way, football made me a better teacher. I always told my students to do something they really loved, that they enjoyed. So, with that in mind, I have. We have. In less than three weeks I will be leaving these shores for a year in New Zealand, I’ve enjoyed the banter from time to time I will look in on this fantastic very well put together football blog just a shame it based around the boys from Woolwich,

18 comments on “Football Teaches Life.

  1. Quite outstanding in oh so many ways. Thanks, good luck and keep in touch. You will no doubt know the work of Martin Robinson@SurrealAnarchy from your teaching career, and I guess he would enjoy this. Come to think of it, he is a Spud too – perhaps you are one and the same.

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  2. excellent piece and as my wife is a teacher I have much empathy with you and agree with your view on whats an education. undoubtably withy such a philosophy you have indeed guided youngsters on the right path after that its largely up to them.
    Your also right about football teaching us plenty as we grew up apart from the increased knowledge of the world from the euro competitions and the subutteo teams it also taught me lots about the geography of my own country. I knew the difference between the lanc and yorks teams long before the war of the roses was taught in school. each area of the country and scotland and wales had their representatives and as a kid it was great learning about all of them. It wasnt only where these teams were but also their nicknames taught me what they were famous for . I found out that everton made toffess, crewe had a big railway hub and rail works and newcastle were the first people to make cartoons.
    oh and good luck in your new venture

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  3. Other times, you run a classroom with the iron discipline and meticulous attention to detail of an Otto Rehhagel, squeezing every last ounce of potential out of kids that achieve above and beyond the sum of their parts.

    TAKE A BOW SIR!!!!!!!

    KING OTTO!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t do that. I showed Maradona’s second against England in 1986 and immediately got the boys to compare it to Argentina’s twenty-six pass masterpiece twenty years later. I then asked them to tell me all the skills required by every player in each position on a football pitch, every boy came out of the lesson engaged and energised. Ofsted would call it “progress

    come on man thats cruel and sexist …what did the poor girls say? where they involved in such a discusion ? hahaha… ignore me im just humouring..its friday

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  5. whats happened to Jeorge Bird his gone all posh https://arsenalyouth.wordpress.com/

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  6. the physio room injury table must be upside down were at the bottom http://www.physioroom.com/news/english_premier_league/epl_injury_table.php although alot of players not available not included but it looks good

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  7. Miguel Delaney @MiguelDelaney · 9h 9 hours ago
    Wenger: “Between 66 and 96, no foreign players in England, and it didn’t improve national team.”

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  8. Thanks for the positive responses and general good will Not forgetting the banter It’s very much appreciated. Onwards and upwards.
    George & Co, keep up the good work

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Yido6061

    ONLY ONCE!

    COTG

    Nice article, apart from the failure to show a “cheat”. The Argie, had the skill set, and did not need “the hand of God”,

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  10. i just don’t get this whole tediousness over home grown players,,, they should train them to play well and they will be considered

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  11. Arsenal do not have a Saturday 3.00pm kick off for rest of the season. Hull away now on a Monday at 8pm. Nice short easy trip home for the Arsenal away fans.

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  12. beautiful. Nevertheless:
    your job as a teacher is:

    1. To sell your subject to your students. Show them why your subject is enthralling and worth pursuing on a lifelong basis. Motivate them so that they will do all the necessary reading on their own.
    2. Resolve/clarify their understanding when they come across ambiguities in their reading,
    3. Motivate them to persist with the hard yards in your subject,

    everything else is a waste of time

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  13. Good piece. Good wishes for your new life.

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  14. Top video Ranty: and what a player when he is on song. If only some fans could show the humanity towards him that they are so eager to parade when they quite rightly remember greats like Rocastle he would have a better environment in which to impress again.

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  15. Great article. Two teachers like you took me from being voted one of two “Most likely to be jailed before he’s 20” to a fairly responsible and successful individual. (The other “most likely” went on to be a Cambridge Don!)
    Bless them and good luck to you with the kiwis.

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  16. New post is up. Familiar ground.

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  17. FH
    It seems to me it’s only the strange, mainly keyboard -“fans” who follow the plundits and pseudo hacks in the derision of Diaby.

    Abu played in a match last year, coming on a sub, and our away? fans sung his name for 20 mins. I think I read about that on these pages, then had to look up the game on Arsenal player just so I could bask in unwarranted reflected glory, such is my obsession with the magnificence of my fave player.

    I get pretty tetchy when I read of Diaby ‘maybe having potential’, or ‘not having reached’. From day one I’ve loved that man. Even when he scored an own goal at the toilet, it was always him who’d drag us back into it (and the refs who’d continually lock us out, hence the game by game assaults on Diaby, along with other Arsenal players).
    I note that the majority of narratives refer (mildly) to the assault on Diaby, 2006, as though it’s the only misfortune he’s come across, whereas mine eyes have seen multiple smashes to his ankles, from Blackburn to Bolton to Cheski, Utd – Bowyer, Cattemole, Ramires and everyone’s fave sage? Barton.
    ****s, all of ’em.

    I don’t have names printed on my Arsenal shirts, but I’m seriously considering putting the name V Abou Diaby – on my next one.

    Some time ago, when I found PA, I commented about AD2 (as he was). I was so fearful I was on my own in appreciating what Abou brought to the team – unprecedented dynamism combined with skill and footy brainpower, and pace to go with his “box to box-i-city”.
    The support and recognition for this wonderful player/man – from the comments following mine – made my eyes wet. I’d like Abou to stay at Arsenal, hopefully returning to the team.
    FH you used one word: Humanity. That’s the one. Says so much about Arsenal.

    Thank you PA people.

    Liked by 2 people

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