Football is scrambled eggs at dawn. Football is flat bread and a draft at dusk.
Football is turning up every hour in between.
There are no excuses on the Tasman Sea. The Wilson’s dismissed those long ago and went about building character one cup of “corner cafe” coffee at a time. Football at the old inn is rooted in gracious giving and fish and chips. In Plimmerton, football is a sun-faded photo, a wry smile and a bit of baldness.
In every town of this great earth there are excuses. There are a million justifications as to why top-flight footballers cannot be developed in your portion of paradise. In Canada it was too cold. In Palo Alto too posh and Pretoria too impoverished. In San Diego too complicated and in Seattle too political. I may not speak the truth, but I do speak from experience and I have experienced each and every one of these excuses in each and every one of these remarkable places. I also have been honored to work with those who take on the status quo with a bold and perhaps provocative voice.
It is more often the case that the gatekeepers of the status quo are the most powerful and well positioned. Interestingly enough it is usually an outcast who offends them by demanding more.
It’s usually a guy named Stu, Declan or Andrew or perhaps a woman named Kaylee, Lisa or Tessa. These people seek more and are destined to create it.
To player development rebels, I tell an encouraging tale.
In 1988, a Dutchman returned to his Catalan club. The scornful voices reminded him that he could not expect to change a nation’s soccer. Even the European Player of the Century would have to bow to tradition of a country entrenched in the past. This brazen philosopher would respond by explaining that he did not worry about changing a culture, his onus was to change a club - the Football Club Barcelona in his charge. In 2010, some twenty years later, that same stubborn nation would win a World Cup and honor the influence of a visionary foreigner.
“You´re crazy until you’re a genius.” – Johan Cruyff
As I woke up each morning in the home of my caring hosts, I would sneak out to the shore. In the calming water I was cleansed of all excuses. I was refreshed by the sea of possibilities. I would no longer accept the lies of laziness. I would no longer let pathetic rationalizations be powerful. I would no longer burden any player with provincial poverty of thought.
I returned to a well-scrambled egg, buttered toast and a side of sliced tomatoes. I returned to learn as much as I could about New Zealand football and those who are destined to drive it forward. I would be forever indebted to my host family who raised champions of their own within the game and beyond.
If we do not strive for better than today, we chain ourselves to the present and disrespect our past. Worst of all however, we burden the future.
Maybe football is more than breakfast babble. Maybe. But what I do know is that there are no excuses on the Tasman Sea. Whatever football is in Wellington, it will be thanks to good people rethinking and redesigning talent development. Olé.
(Dedicated to Dave and Lesley Wilson and the coaches of New Zealand. Thank you.)
Follow Todd Beane on Twitter: @_ToddBeane