Football can also be a preventative measure against antisocial behavior. A lot of times when individuals get themselves into trouble it is usually through the teenage years where the search for identity and to “fit in” is strongest. It’s something that I definitely went through in my teenage years.
I had what I would call a weird circumstance where I was one thing in school and then a completely different person outside of it. In school I was very shy, unconfident and afraid to say the wrong thing and would go as far to say I felt like I was walking around on eggshells. I sort of attribute this to the school I went to I went to a school where academics came first, and sport was a very distant second. I mean that’s what you want when you enroll your kid in school, for them to come out hopefully smarter than they went in. The sports that the school did endorse though were rugby and basketball. Now, for those of you who do not know me I am 5’4 on a good day … as a 23 year old. Imagine what I was like as an 9 year old!!! So, those were not really an option for me plus my sports were cricket and football. So in terms of being able to relate to people in school and have something to talk about besides school, I didn’t have much.
Now I think this could have 100% become a problem if it wasn’t for who I was outside of school. Outside of school I was confident, talkative and comfortable. That’s because most of the time I was outside of school I was playing sport and not to toot my own horn but I was usually good at it too. Its also a different circumstance when you are at a game or at training for sport. Everyone has school so you can talk about that, then there is the sport that you are actually playing. That you know people are interested in because … if they weren’t then why were they there? So, you can talk about your favorite teams, players, the national team and so on. In all honesty I think that the outside of school me was definitely the realer version of myself and is who I am today.
The point to all of this though is that if I was not playing sport and the only interaction I had was the one I had at school then things could have gone down a different road. I think that a lot of the time teenagers compromise who they are in order to try and fit in. I know some people will cringe at this because its cringy and cliché but that’s why teenagers try things in an attempt to be cool or popular that they do not fully understand. Teachers may convince some people to stop but it is the ignorance of youth that when shown the potential consequences of there actions teens often say “Yeh, but that won’t be me”. Then they try something once, either they like it or they keep doing it because they like what people think of them when they do it. But because they do not understand the nature of the things they are trying they then become addicted to both the thing itself and the attention it brings with it.
I was literally having a kick around the other day at an oval across the road from a school. A group of kids came over and were what I thought just hanging out by the club house about 10 meters from where I was kicking the ball in the goal. I thought nothing of it the kids looked about 14 but were definitely in school clothes. Two teachers then came thundering around the corner catching the group off guard. All I could really here was “Can’t you kids go one day without smoking?” and “is that the cigarette under your foot, that’s pathetic”. 14 years old and from the sounds of it repeat offenders at getting caught smoking, 14!
Now, I do understand that not all football players are smoke, drug and alcohol free and that not all drug users do not play football. But football and sport in general does provide another way for individuals especially at that age to find a place to fit in and another path to go on.