From the streets of Tocopilla to the bright lights of the Nou Camp and now taking The Emirates by storm – his name is Alexis Sanchez.
Alexis Alejandro Sánchez Sánchez’s raw talent has taken him to the top and to a life he may not even dreamed to be imaginable when a ball first rolled towards him in his Chilean home town.
Alexis is the epitome of a Street King, he wasn’t the product of an academy or polished by top level coaches from an early age, he is raw, self-taught and natural. He relies on his instinct, love of the game and talent to sweep aside defenders and entertain the crowds.
Sanchez says himself that he has always played with older children growing up, he took the knock and the kicks and emerged the jewel in his neighbourhoods crown. There were no strict age restrictions or coaches stopping over aggressive defenders, it was simple if you liked footy, you were allowed to play but be prepared to think quickly, move quickly and most importantly have good skills and technique.
Luckily for Alexis he had all this in abundance and shined so brightly he has become a star both for his clubs and his national team, but with all the polished academy based training and strict rules of engagement, do our youngsters still develop as players naturally? People say Wayne Rooney is the last of the English ‘street players’ but this shouldn’t be the case. Are we over-coaching youngsters in this country?
I do not for one minute dispute that the infrastructure and coaches nationwide are ever-improving and they do a great job BUT is this at the detriment of natural flair, imagination and a passion for the game only the freedom of the streets unlocks.
“Alexis has stolen my heart, he’s a joy… he’s a very humble guy.” – Pep Guardiola, after signing Sanchez at Barcelona.
All the great players, the players that put bums on seats and fill stadiums have that raw talent, they are mavericks, rough diamonds choose whichever term suits you best, we agree at a certain level tactics and strategy is needed but at an early age are we producing enough talent to guarantee entertainment and continue to allow the game to keep its status as ‘the beautiful game’, our opinion currently is no.
Going back to Alexis Sanchez, his talent and natural flair have proved that if you are good enough no matter where you are from or what your background is your talent will always leapfrog the factory produced robots of modern football. Sanchez started on dirt pitches, getting kicked by boys a lot older who became frustrated at his ability, he is now a world star who allow continues to get kicked from frustrated opponents, he has been able to travel the world and give his family a life they may never have thought possible. Why??, because he honed his skills in the street and therefore became a product of his environment and a streetwise player.
Alexis sums it up best by saying “whenever I played football as youngster I forgot all my problems” which is possibly the heart of the issue, he was free to express himself and be creative when he played football but in England today we fear a players problems start WHEN they play football. Parents, Coaches, Scouts, Peers players find themselves in a cauldron of pressure when they get onto the pitch, they are made aware too early of the possible routes to premier league stardom and how to achieve a ‘pro contract’. Boys of 8,9 and 10 are put under pressure by parents and coaches however well meaning to be the best and play within the confines of tactics and strategies. This is not conducive to learning, it is not healthy for the child s love of the game and it also discourages imagination, instinct and flair.
Alexis Sanchez is a shining example of what can be achieved if we just let the kids play. Here at Street Kings our message is simple, we provide the venue, the atmosphere and the stage to showcase your child’s skills, they simply turn up and enjoy the freedom.
Street Kings UK offer a range of football activities such as Football Fundraisers, Football Coaching Events – our King of Tekkers Academy & our fantastic Champions League Football Birthday Parties! We hope to see you soon!