Association football, more commonly called football Association, is an organised team sport usually played between two groups of eleven players. It is the most popular sport in the world, with over 250 million people playing it in more than 200 countries and dependencies. A game day in America may well have tickets sold out, with millions of people tuning in to watch.
A fascinating history can be told about association football, starting at its beginnings some three hundred years ago in Europe. The game has roots in Italy and France and there are many stories about it being used as a way of socialising in those countries, with local authorities allowing people from their villages to play a friendly game when no other sports were going on in the area. As the games grew in popularity, they moved onto the streets of Europe, where they were enjoyed by ordinary people and encouraged by public schools. It wasn’t long before the game spread to England and from there to Scotland, eventually becoming a global phenomenon. With huge teams travelling from country to compete in tournaments, football quickly became the most popular game in the world.
The World Cup competitions have been a major part of football’s growth, with the 1994 World Cup in Africa and Asia providing a new spark for the game. In response to this, international football associations were formed in countries around the world, with the European and American nations holding national competitions; the European confederation being the most successful of these. The World Cup tournaments continue to this day, with the format having additional qualification tournaments and the winner always becoming the tournament champion. The confederation system means that qualification for the championship is based on a points system, with the winning team gaining three points and the losers dropping down to another level.
All of these extra levels of competition has lead to a further influx of interest in the game among the elite of society. Amateur football players may not have access to the high level of professionalism, but with such players taking part in lower level competitions, it is possible to play in the Football World Cup competitions, and the experience is no different to that experienced by professionals. The increased level of standard amongst those playing in these competitions has also led to more scholarships being offered to young aspiring players. This has helped football become a more lucrative career option for those who are interested in pursuing it professionally. These opportunities are also being offered to football players who are amateurs at heart, meaning that football can provide a second income to those with a non-playing background.
A more common role than the goalkeeper is that of a sweeper or a forward. Sweeping the opposition are usually done by centre backs or wingers, meaning that if you want to play football you need to be able to cope with the role that comes with it. Of course, football is more than just kicking the ball, with many people swearing by the fitness benefits of ball-handling. If you have a love of the game then the chances are that ball-handling is actually a very important aspect of your football education. In fact, many football schools will incorporate ball handling as part of a player’s training, meaning that even a non-playing person can learn how to play football by watching as the professionals do.
There are various forms of football that you can play, but they all require three elements – skill, pace and endurance. If you are looking to kick goals, you need to be skilled in both long range and close control. Similarly, you need to be fast and agile, which makes you ideally suited to a position on the wing or in a forward position. Football is also played by forwards who are known as wingers. They are able to hit the ball with great force, and have the ability to sprint away from their markers.