Send us news by text, start your message Star News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Jon Wilkin Column: We need to match the aspirations of sporty kids
8:20am Friday 2nd November 2012 in Sport
WITH the football season well into its stride and a weekend of great games I thought it topical to discuss the merits of the round ball game and why it became our national sport and the number one global sport.
Football is an inclusive sport that has appeared in various forms over thousands of years of history, many civilisations depicted the round ball as part of their culture and a prominent leisure activity.
It wasn't until 1863 that a set of rules, recognisable to today’s game, were agreed at Cambridge and the modern game spread via trade, military and sailors around the world and in 1904 FIFA was formed to reflect the widening appreciation of the game and competitions that existed around the world.
The game blossomed across our country and - in a similar fashion to rugby union - spread without restriction.
Whether you enjoy football or not there is an infectious reaction to a round ball, simply toss a ball into a group of people and watch how giddy people get, everyone tries to have a wild swipe at the ball with their foot regardless of age or interest.
That’s the key to football it can be played on your own, as lonely and desperate as that may look, anyone can strike a ball against the wall and that’s one of the main reasons why I feel we have an obsession with the game.
Firstly its unrestricted spread in the early years of its formation and the fact the round ball has an subconscious impact on us.
The reason I wanted to discuss the formation of football and it becoming our national sport is to then compare to Rugby League and understand the past of both sports and how that has impacted the sports futures.
While football was being embraced by the world, Rugby was also on the move and being spread but in 1895 the split of rugby into Rugby Union and the Northern Union (RL) was the most crucial moment in the history of the sport. Since many of the clubs in the North of England were either started by industrialists or well supported by them.
Players were often allowed to leave work early on a Saturday to play without any deduction of pay.
Payments were made to players from other parts of the country to come and play for local teams.
This drew huge match attendances and public support for the game in North resulting in some matches getting larger crowds than Internationals held in London.
All of this fuelled what became know as "Veiled Professionalism".
The game was divided not just by geography but by class and by ideals. In all honesty the isolation of the game in the industrial North was its strength back then but restricted the development of modern rugby league as a national sport.
Our game has never shed the working class and northern tag well over a hundred years on and in my own opinion the divide in sport is still rooted in class.
Football is a game for all people and hence dominates in all schools - upper, middle and working class. Rugby union is a game of the middle and upper classes and rugby league is left competing with our national sport football for the attentions of working class children.
These are all huge generalisations and obviously full of exceptions but you get what I am suggesting.
We have inadvertently put ourselves in competition with football for fans, players and possible sponsors and investors.
Football has many merits, it projects a lifestyle, flash cars, flashier houses, haircuts that involve thought, tackles that don't require contact and dives that require flair but all in all it is entertaining.
Watching the games at the weekend makes you realise how much football is theatre and when it is good there are few better things to watch.
Very similar to rugby league, a good game is great but a poor game can be dreadful to watch.
I would say many children aspire to have many of things that footballers do, it is almost unachievable.
Not a bent nose, limp and a receding hair line which describes most of the players after their rugby careers, these are all very achievable characteristics.
I think making the game more aspirational across the board is key change in the mindset of the game.
Tickets for celebrity match.
Having spoken of the merits of football and rugby league, November 25 sees the clash of those two sports along with the world of showbiz in the Typhoo Celebrity football game for my Testimonial. Langtree Park will host a game between the Typhoo Legends of Football including Mark Wright(Liverpool), Lee Martin (Man United) and Mike Newell (Blackburn and Everton) and many more along with Rugby league legends Sean Long and Paul Sculthorpe.
They will take on the Ginetta Allstars led by myself and Paul Wellens featuring stars from stage and screen including Ralph Little, Alan Halsall (Tyrone) and Kelvin Fletcher (Andy Sugden).
It will be a one off chance to watch Football legends take on skilled and youthful actors with the brutality of several rugby players thrown in.
It will be a thoroughly entertaining afternoon for the family.
Tickets will be available from the Langtree Park ticket office from next week.
They are priced at £10 per adult but up to two kids go free when accompanying a paying adult (must be under 16), students and concessions £5, there will be lots of stuff going on for families and for anyone who fancies a fun afternoon with a twist.
Sunday lunch Hospitality upstairs is available £25 per head including premium seat, players lounge access and Sunday Lunch. For Hospitality bookings email: Info@ jonwilkin.co.uk.