Sunday, 9 September 2012

Deposits of social culture on spanish success

Spain are Current World Champions, and Double European Champions, and the last four years has brought them Spectacular success. Soccer fans across the globe have been riveted by their dazzling display, technical innovation, and their pioneering tactical approach. They have upped the standards.

A lot of postulations have been espoused as progenitors for Spain's stunning success story over the last four years. It's sounded like an intersection of post Franco politics, the seeds of total football sewn by Rinus Michels, and Johan Cryuff at Barcelona; Pep Guadiola's sprinkle of magic dust on Barcelona's Spanish players; brilliant planning; investing in youth, communicating and emphasizing skill, as well as technical work with the ball. Certain aspects of these postulations are universal truths, and not peculiar to Spain alone. France has it's famous INF Clairfontane soccer academy, which has continued to produce wonderful players ;  and total football was popularized by the Dutch, and even at it's apex in the seventies did not quite generate the levels of success Spain have managed recently. Spain have drawn parallels with the swaggering Brazilian sides of the sixties and seventies. There are nuances, but the fluidity, rhythm, and propensity to dominate and overwhelm the opposition is similar.

In International Soccer, getting the team to play to the standards exhibited by Spain takes some doing. It's actually ironic, or an aberration to have a  national side play in such a fused way. Players come from different clubs all over the country, and some play for clubs abroad, so, forging social bonds can be challenging. The mind set has to be right. I remember the lean times of Spanish international soccer, when it was an enigma a Nation could have teams of the calibre of Barcelona and Real Madrid; Produce a plethora of fabulous players, and still remain in the wilderness. It was assumed the rivalry of Barcelona and Madrid precluded the national team from reaching it's potential in tournaments. Zubizareta, Michel, Chendo, Butragueno, Jose Maria Bakero, Guardiola, Baraha, Luis Enrique Martinez,  Raul e.t.c were not necessarily less talented than the current generation, but perhaps there was insufficient rallying points.  Brazil were in the past referred to as the samba boys. This metaphor meant their soccer was played to the beats of their cultural music. Same for teams from sub-saharan Africa: Makossa music is the socio-cultural backdrop, and a key element to the performance of the Camerounian players for instance, when they turn-out for the national side, especially in international tournaments.

While soccer analysts, sports psychologists, soccer historians, dissect the reasons for Spain's invincibility, and draw a myriad of conclusions, one aspect commonly overlooked is how social and cultural norms play a potent role in Spain's rise to the top. With so many of the Spanish players from Barcelona F.C,  the Spanish team has for once amalgamated under the "tiki-taka"mantra, but crucially in my opinion, they have been greased by bonds that is derived from social cohesion hitherto latent. As diverse as the country maybe politically and in cultural identity, they still share a common passion for CELEBRATION and FUN. These traits are very transparent in how they play right now. The team is a cornucopia of artistry, celebration, fun, epicurean and play with fiesta, which is a prerequisite in the daily life of the average Spaniard. The players have found their natural social rhythm through the fluidity of their style of play. The fact that they are winning, and the best, make them enjoy themselves even more. In other words, winning and being the best, in combination with being within their social element is mutually reinforcing.  It makes for an invincible, dynamic and resilient group. Spanish players are enjoying a new lease of life as a result of this, and it has been a vital contributing factor to their success, which is most often understated.

It does not always follow that players replicating their social habitat is a recipe for success. Sven Goran Ericksson generally stretched boarders to enable England Players feel relaxed enough to perform. It achieved nothing. Brazil and Spain have proved their kind of  social fusion, pertinently has a positive  effect on the playing side, and team morale.