Whether you follow football, or you are just an outsider, one thing about the players in the game seems to stand out – those with exceptional skill are from South America. Though this is often tossed aside by those too dedicated to their own country and/or team to admit, many of the most skilled players to tend to originate from below the US. This trend has surpassed the mere possibility of coincidence too as the 20th Century’s most impressive people on the pitch include Ronaldo (Brazil) Lionel Messi (Argentina), Pele (Brazil), and of course Diego Maradona; often called the worlds greatest player hailing from Argentina too. Though odd, this remarkable phenomenon has its reasons, one huge one being poverty which creates several knock-on effects that oddly create great footballers.
This may seem trivial, but under the banner of poverty kids without lots of money have to find their own entertainment and football is a common pastime in some of the poorest of places in South America. With just a single item needed (the ball of course) kids here learn to play in the sparsest of conditions, small street corners, with barely inflated balls wearing no shoes. If you’ve ever watched a film about a footballer from South America, chances are there are some scenes where they are kicking a ball about in places you won’t ever want to visit. These restrictions give these future players an advantage they don’t even know about, upping their practice time while others elsewhere play videogames and increasing the difficulty by affirming ball control, because if they lose it they can’t simply go buy another.
Do or Die Mentality
Another consequence of poverty, the people in many of the impoverished areas of South America have little opportunity to go up in the world. With this comes a lack of ambition for many and a very minor selection of role models. Footballers however are like rock stars in many of these areas, showing that there is a possibility of a lifestyle away from that they have come to know. Football may be a simple hobby in Europe, something a parent has nudged a kid into, whereas without any other options Football here can be the only escape to a better life. Being good isn’t about getting a trophy here, it can be life changing.
Futsal & Beach Football
You might be thinking that not all of South America is in poverty, and you would be right, but even those from better off areas get a head start on the game thanks to the widespread variants that exist. Futsal is a five a side indoor football, here the ball is heavier and doesn’t really bounce meaning players from here make light work of an inflated match ball, putting more power into their kicks with no effort. Similarly, beach football provides an unpredictable surface for the ball and thus makes for a game of far more improvisation. Ball control is vital here so moving to a flat grass pitch afterwards is a breeze.