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Striking iron when it’s still hot

FOR those who spend hours on end, browsing through social media on their smartphones must have seen this video depicting a five year boy learning how to dribble the ball, not on a soccer pitch, but inside one of his parents’ rooms.

The video’s narrator is not clear where the video was taken. But listening to his narration, the video must have been taken in one of those Latin American countries where soccer is treated like religion. The boy appears to have been listening to command either from his own father or a hired soccer academy coach.

The boy dribbled, several times, around between closely placed obstacles which stood in place of players. After going through the obstacles with his ball, he then moved to rail like drawing on the floor. He would jump from side to side, as if avoiding a side tackle, to the end of the floor, drawn rail.

He turned around, and continued with his jump after which he went back to the obstacle, dribbling exercise. It was simply a marvel to watch. In fact, nothing surprised and excited me, in the same measure, than when I was shown the video by my wife than when the boy executed his dribbling. He did it like a professional footballer.

At the end of the video, the man who appears to have been behind the video had this to say; “The boy you have just viewed is five. Now you can imagine what he would become when he is 15!” Indeed, I totally agree with him. If that five year boy could do what he did in that video, what would he do ten years from today?

The man who appears to be a Tanzanian concluded by saying that our children of the boy’s age, cry endlessly, as they yearn for beans (maharage), instead of being involved in what the Latino boy had just done! My question is, why are our children not doing what that boy did?

Does this mean that Latinos and white guys have children who are not only well organised, but also know what they want in life? I don’t think so. What we saw in that video does not mean that the five year boy decided to do what he did on his own. At that age he does not know what he wants. He is still a child.

And whatever he does as we saw that boy do, was and will continue to be something that is organised by his parents. It is his parents who are guiding him what to do. The same thing can be said about our children. They will do what we want them to do. If we want them to be lazy, they will.

But if we want them to be strong, future citizens, they will. But as long as we programme them. Children fail to perform not because they are stupid. They fail, even in their studies because we failed as guardians and parents to provide them with guidance.

Therefore the stupid man or woman, the stupid father or mother is not the child, but rather the parents, the guardians, it is us.

After the opening of the Jakaya M. Kikwete soccer academy at Kidongo Chekundu, one day I saw big Mamas in their RAV 4 short chassis with their five to six year boys trying to talk soccer instructors into trying their children in soccer.

I was not surprised with what I saw. It was actually easy to understand what those big mamas were up to. These are the people who have been watching the English premier league. They have come to learn the kind of money their children can earn if they were trained in soccer from tender age.

Soccer is no longer what people thought it was two to three decades ago. Barring injuries, it can turn a family into instant billionaires.

But a family can get that if it has guided its child or children. And that is what that video most of us saw means and that is why I said in the beginning, that, that video must have been shot in one of those soccer, mad Latin American countries.

The parent, a middle class or even a man from the street may have wanted to show what his child can do so that big clubs in Europe can go knocking to the parent. In short, it was part of a marketing strategy. But it helped in showing us what we can get if we exposed our children to the right environment of what we want our children to be when they finally grow up.

The former security advisor of President George Bush junior, Condelezza Rice, is reported to have known how to play piano when she was four! Her parents had wanted their daughter to be intelligent and according to medical experts, one of the things parents can do if they want their children to have more useful brains is to get them into playing chess, karate or piano.

Piano involves both the mind and one’s fingers and to strike a musical cord, you need to coordinate all your fingers and brain. And that in itself trains a child how to put to test all his body and mind. Secondly, it trains a child the art of concentration and listening to melody.

Concentration helps a child in learning and understanding what the teacher is saying. A child that cannot concentrate on what the teacher is saying is unlikely to learn anything. Of course, concentration of a child’s mind also goes along with food. If the child is not well fed, he or she cannot concentrate!

Therefore, the choice is ours. If we want our children to do well not only in sports, but also in their studies, then we need to do what that parent did to get his five year boy do what he did in that video.

Attilio Tagalile is a journalist/author and media consultant based in Dar es Salaam and can be contacted through tagalileattilio@yahoo.co.uk

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