The fine line between ignorance and bliss
An isolated occurrence caught my eye as I watched footage presented on women's football during a very recent local news broadcast on MARPIN Television. It happened that a young lady hit upon a brief snapshot of exuberance in attacking play that developed on the right flank of her team. The whole thing was as brief as it was vivid. It had to be, if the nature of related match excerpts is conceptualized. There is no intention on my part to take issue with my friend Garvin Richards when I urge the very real need to allow lengthier focus on match presentation rather than miniscule snippets of match-play. In any case, Mr. Richards will easily inform me that the business of providing the public with football instruction is the responsibility of either the Dominica Football Association or the Sports Division. The television company sticks to its news as convenient coverage.
There is by no stretch of the imagination any appealing consensus about quality in respect of the episode raised by myself in the foregoing. One may look at it from a variety of angles and say the young lady caught my fancy for more than one reason. Very superficially, she was briskly alive—in contrast to the background of the match itself which depicted most other players as merely standing around. Then too, an overwhelming portion of the players on both sides hinted strongly of overweight.
This aspect is not confined to Dominica women's football, evidence of which can easily be had from a glimpse of the FIFA Under 17 women's World Cup now going on in Costa Rica. At the risk of being deceived by portrait rendition of digital TV, I would assess most of the lasses as between ten and fifteen pounds overweight—beyond what I consider the ideal athlete.
Anyway, it always remains a matter, not really of how a player looks, but how well she manages in carrying her bodyweight effectively. I will leave the weight factor alone for the present and get back to questions of basic football. To do so I drift historically to Dominica football in the nineteen fifties—when there was no women's football—perhaps not even anywhere in the world. Those were, in the opinion of many, the good old days.
An acquaintance of mine named Obreay Charles exhibited the knack of enjoying a certain "magic" of making opposing wing halves appear silly. He enjoyed it so much, he would get past one man, then past a second, then a third. His appetite was such that he would overplay his artistry while his colleagues waited in vain for the cross that never came. Then to crown it all, Charles received a crowning ovation from spectators, to the silent consternation of his colleagues.
It is this excessive display of self interest which stands out as pleasure to some, while at the same time no less than pure wastefulness to those concerned more with progressive and effective matchplay. Our young lady, if at all she reads this, or, if her teammates and coaches are inclined to take time off to reflect, the desirable balance between self assertion and the merits of team effort as a constructive entity can be put in proper perspective.
No matter how distressed one gets with the glaring reflection of poverty in our standards of football, there will always be the overwhelming preoccupation with the need for enjoyment in the game. They insist it is only a game and it is no use playing if you cannot enjoy it. Very true, indeed. However, the practical coaching premise stands on the offer of the greater enjoyment when winning rather than an incidence of chronic loss after loss.
Inevitably, I am riveted to the idea that there is nothing intrinsically different between, say, the Ghana women's football team and the Dominica women's team—only a matter of training and preparation. At this instant, Ghana would rate at 7 alongside Dominica at 2 or 3 on a scale of excellence. This is automatic but rationalizes the overwhelming value of training.
When Ghana gets the better of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea by two goals to nil it isn't because of any God given right to excel. Take it or leave it, much is dispensed by the biblical edict of "by the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread"! There is so much running in the Ghana girls, they must be running in their sleep. Sometimes I feel they overdo the work rate business. But their success on the world stage is conclusive. Dominica's women's football is only rudimentary at the moment.
How can our Dominican girls arrive at the blessing of emerging out of a football situation marked by hopelessness on the local and regional setting? Immediately I can forcefully declare laissez fair is not the way to go! At the risk of my being accorded a "regimentalist" label, I insist our players must be guided at the very earliest phases of their development into an awareness of what is acceptable in the scheme of things on an orderly basis. Rag tag mix-ups can only have the disadvantage of too many young players turned off by excessive roughness and the absence of the guiding light of a skills dominated movement towards an intelligible proficiency. We must very early discover the fine line between bliss and ignorance.