Save Your Footballing Soul

Cancel your SKY subscription. Sell the dog, re-mortgage the house, pawn your wedding ring, don’t renew your season ticket, walk past the bookies. Count your savings, find a travel agent and book a flight to Brasil. Pack some football shorts, t-shirts, camera, a football and take your spirit of adventure to the heart of the beautiful game.

Brasil is the sanctuary of football optimism. To go there is to have your love of football confirmed, caressed and renewed. From the swaying stars of the beaches to the inner-city legends, no where on earth can match Brasil for complete football nirvana.

It is as you might imagine. Sun soaked paradise with a football. There is a potential Pelé on every street and a local club allowing talent to shine. It is exhilarating, magnificent. It is not just in the main cities, but all over the country. Every day you spend there will help you to understand why Brasil has won the World Cup 5 times and Spain none. Football is about loving life, it is about togetherness, good times and pleasure — what football should be about. It is a winning formula.

In Europe we are fond of telling anyone who will listen that we have the best leagues. That may well be so, but when it comes to the soul of the game we are more Gordon Brown than James Brown, if you get my meaning.

You don’t find percentages coming into play on Ipanema or Santos beaches. Row Z doesn’t exist on the Amazonian plains. Sam Allardyce might believe in Pro-Zone, attrition team defending and up and at ’em, but the sandy toed Fute-Volley girls of Bahia certainly don’t. I know what I’d rather be watching on a Saturday afternoon and it isn’t a bluff braggart yelling at midfielders to tuck in.

Somewhere in between inventing tournaments and renegotiating media contracts ‘football’ has given in, it has become more cold light of day than hazy evenings with a ball and a dream, it is win-at-all-costs not spending time having fun. This is nothing new. Miles of lines have been written on the subject, but what next?

That trip to Brasil.

If the entire world of modern football could take a trip to Brasil there is a chance the game could be saved from the bottom line. If the sight of Middlesbrough, Birmingham City or Wigan scrapping for a point is your idea of fun, then you are probably shaking your head right now. But ask yourself, is this it? Is this the people’s game, the beautiful game? Is this more important than life or death? If you are happy, stick with it, if not, cancel your SKY subscription, buy your ticket to Rio, pack your backs and save your football soul.

Oliver Fowler is the brains behind Next Soccer Star, set up to offer an opportunity for the next stars of football to showcase their skills and offer the very best a road into the professional game and possible megastardom.

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