So, who is in the YCWAWK dug out and why?
I’ve wanted to get my teeth into my own blog for years, so nows the time. When I was thinking of a subject to focus on I thought long and hard about what would keep me interested… the things in life I indulge myself in most. Easy for me, football and music… probably the two most written about leisurely past times in existence, so I quickly ruled out music, but that that got me thinking deeper. Football reports, articles, comments, in the UK… is there anything out there missing? Is there an aspect of the game that we rarely hear about that people genuinely care about? Nothing jumped out immediately, but after a trip to New York in late 2015 I gained inspiration.
College Basketball at Maddison Square Gardens. Whilst I knew a little bit about the college sport system in the US and having gained further insight through Friday Night Lights (the film, please watch it if you’re the slightest bit interested in sport), nothing could have really prepared me for seeing the affiliation and connection fans had with college teams first hand. These are 18/19 year old boys remember, and after talking to a couple of guys at the game, my mind was made up. How often do we hear in the mainstream football media how important it is to blood the youth, gain first team experience… not to mention hearing that he’s one of our own song?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s clearly a downside to the set up in the U.S. Hearing a middle aged man shout “my daughter can throw a ball further than you” to a 17-year old boy as he takes a free throw was not a memorable sporting moment for me, but seeing one entire side of the Maddison Square Gardens stadium roar as the Duke Devils later took the lead, was. What I also found interesting was the guys I spoke to, were kitted out in Duke jerseys and from New York… that’s 487 miles away from Duke University, North Carolina. They attended the University 20+ years ago and played in the American Football team themselves. They explained that in a sporting sense, that connection with the University you go to never leaves you.
So I’d found my focus. After looking into it a bit further since coming back to the UK, theres not actually that much out there written about our football academies and youth systems from a neutral perspective. People may argue that there are good reasons for that, but on this rare occasion I think we ought to take a leaf out of the America’s approach… at least in a few areas of the game. There are occasional reports on club pages on the u18’s, u21’s in the UK, but there doesn’t seem to be any real coverage.
So, having been attending first team games across the land since I sat in a smokey, boozy, sweary wooden stand with my Uncle at the age of 5, this will now be my platform to share thoughts and reports from the world of youth football. Let’s start in the UK and who knows where we’ll end up. Maybe we’ll find the next “one of our own” along the way.
I’ll also be sharing articles from co-writers, friends and others too… enjoy!