Football: Everybody’s Game

by Eoghan Keegan

Football is quite an interesting sport. When considered in its most elementary form, it amounts to twenty-two men kicking a spherical object around a field. Furthermore, this is what football appears to be to the disinterested. But the fascinating truth is that millions of people around the world dispute this conclusion and consider football as a firm component of their day to day life, some even consider life as the time spent when not playing football. The beautiful thing about the game is that, football offers something for everybody be it playing, spectating or tactically devising.

But why do so many people enjoy football, and dedicate hundreds of hours to following it? The most obvious reason is its simplicity. As only a ball is needed to play football, whether alone or with others, it is remarkably simple to initiate a game or a kick-around. It is a great deal easier to initiate than, say, cricket or American football. Consequently, in many areas, football thrives as the most popular sport, making its way into the minds of the young, the supporters-to-be, or players-to-be. It is only natural that this interest develops over time to from an essential component of many people’s daily lives. Proof of this comes to our attention during in-season weekends, as hundreds of thousands flock to stadiums to witness their team play, while meanwhile the fans unable to secure a ticket tune in to watch the game on television, along with millions of others around the world.

However, for some it cannot just be simplicity of a game that creates its appeal, otherwise more complex sports such as rugby would long ago made redundant: it must have an unpredictable aspect to it, something that draws you in at first and makes escape and undesirable option. That is where football truly shines. As long as a football remains on a pitch, football being a generally low scoring sport, it is completely unpredictable what the next run of play will bring. A consistently creative player can alter the complexion of a game drastically at the kick of a ball, opening up avenues of opportunity that nobody considered to exist: all that is needed is a navigator skilled enough to find those avenues. Likewise, it can never be pre-determined how a game will end. Every season brings with it a shocker that contradicts the pundits and sparks passionate debate between fans, whether over the internet or a bag of chips.

Of course football cannot be summed up in a single sentence, as there are many different styles of playing the game. Hence we come to tactics. Tactics is where football becomes much more complex, where formations must be altered to allow players to be used effectively, while not rendering anybody useless. Football is not entirely about the players you have on your squad, but split between players and player arrangement. Arranging your XI in an effective and adaptive manner is also a vital component of the game, and when tinkered with to favour one squad and irritate another, can expose flaws in the seemingly invincible armour of a powerful adversary. Tactics is about allowing players to play to their strengths while at the same time disrupting the strengths of others. To quote “The Art of War”:

If you know both yourself and your enemy, you can win numerous battles without jeopardy.

Not all fans are solely interested in playing: for some the attraction lies in the concoction of a clever game plan that will allow the seemingly unbeatable be defeated.

Football truly is an incredible game. It belongs as much to the fans as it does to the players as it does to the next great player, waiting to be discovered. Football is everywhere, be it from the Champions League podium to the haphazard streets of shanty towns, where the next Messi kicks around a bundle of rags, from the pub debates to the local park. It’s its accessibility, while simultaneously its intricacy and versatility that makes it truly special.

Everybody’s game.

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