Tuesday’s Column: “Pelada” strips game down to its roots

i-4cfdc5446fa6788ee29593693a995f0e-villa31slum0022.jpgPick-up soccer in the Villa 31 slum, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Poverty can create great soccer players.

It’s why we see more Brazilians or Africans who can do magical things with a ball than Americans.

Once you learn how to control a tennis ball or small rock, deftly kicking a regulation ball is not much of a challenge.

And it’s free-flowing pick-up soccer in those countries, where no one tells a kid to stop dribbling or endlessly playing keepie up, that creates great players more than the regimented, over-coached youth soccer system we have here. And, of course, those players not only have the hunger to escape poverty, but spend hour after hour day after day honing their skills on dirt lots rather than play a couple of hours here or there when mom piles the kids into the car for weekly practice.

You rarely see kids or adults for that matter playing casual pick-up games on a patch of ground here.

But that doesn’t mean Americans don’t have an appreciation for it. And “Pelada” is a celebration of that sub-culture around the world.

I highly recommend the movie. Read more about it here in this week’s column.

And here’s the trailer for the film:

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