At the height of his game, Frank Lampard was regarded as one of the best midfielders in the world and the ridiculous amount of goals and assists he has to his name confirm his greatness. He is currently number four on the list of Premier League players with the highest assists and is the highest scoring midfielder ever.
In a neurological research conducted on players, Frank Lampard was found to have a very high IQ.
That’s intelligent quotient, by the way.
I wonder what kind of scores a random sampling of Ghanaian footballers will get on an IQ test.
Everytime Lampard and Essien played midfield for Chelsea, you will always hear commentators’ describing Frank’s guile and vision while the best compliment they could pay Essien was to praise his physicality, tough-tackling style and the uncanny ability of covering every blade of grass and appearing almost everywhere. Essien was the hard hitting bison that injured opponents sometimes; Lampard was the wily fox that roamed the right places at the right time.
Same thing happened with David Silva and Yaya Toure at Manchester City.
Maybe it’s stereotypes. Maybe it’s facts.
This is not to say that Micheal Essien and Yaya Toure are not intelligent people or weren’t crafty footballers. They are. They were. But their physicality was more praised than their guile.
The most effective footballers have both brain and brawn. Eric Cantona, CR7 and Messi are perfect examples.
Have you ever seen a super fast player running all the way to the byline and then not knowing what to do with the ball or doing something daft with it? That’s a footballer with a low footballing IQ.
In our part of the world, we view footballers as people who were not good enough in school and bring up sports loving children to fit certain stereotypes.
Let’s pull this structure down and rebuild.
Let’s keep our sports loving children in school and at the same time create a robust sporting ecosystem that nurses and nurtures talent throughout our educational system. You don’t have to stop schooling to be a footballer.
The next generation of Ghanaian footballers should have both physicality and guile in abundance. Our sports academies need to have some improvised educational system available for their recruits as well. And every footballer should have a minimum of secondary school education.
We need footballers with high IQs and EQs. IQ is emotional quotient. It was the very thing Zidane lacked for a few minutes in 2006. He headbutted Materazzi and France lost the World Cup final to Italy.
Messi shoved Lampard in the heat of a Champions League semi-final in 2012 and Frank did not lose his head. That’s cold competence. That’s emotional intelligence. Focus. Know when to react and when not to. Got to keep your eyes on the ball.
Soccer is evolving and we are getting left behind.
La Masia isn’t just a football academy. It trains body and mind. Students receive both academic education and football training and they produced all three finalists for the 2010 Balon d’Or.
We can’t continue playing inter schools football at international level and hope things turn out well.
We need a new generation of players who can pull off the kind of no-look passes De Bruyne does everytime. You need creative imagination and a high footballing IQ to play football like that.
We need disciplined players. The most indisciplined football team ever was the French squad at South Africa 2010, and they were terrible.
We need players committed to their profession and willing to do all they can to become world class and we need to fix our sports infrastructure, and how kids are taught to play football in Ghana.
And you have to ensure that people pursuing their passion will not leave then hungry and poor. We don’t need part-time footballers. It should be a full time occupation that pays well.
Missing out on consecutive world cups might be the best thing that ever happened to Ghana Football.
Let’s do this.