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Evolution of the Game


Football has been around for hundreds, maybe thousands of years.   Did I say “football”?  I meant football type games.  “AsSOCiation Rules football”, best known in the U.S. by it’s acronym – SOCceR, has only been around since 1863.

Really though, football has been around for a long time, and in the very beginning, their were no rules.   In fact, games were played in many different venues, including village to village, with hundreds of men kicking and carrying the “ball” (a term used very loosely, as the ball could be made of ANYTHING, including a human head) miles up and down the road in an effort to score a point.

In England (the mother of modern day football.. er,  soccer), the game was primarily played in schools, with kids making up the rules, and the rules changing year after year with the addition of new pupils.  You can imagine that with the different schools, there were very different types of football being played.  Over time, the schoolyard game became more organized and governing bodies began organizing clubs and teams to play their variety of football.  The games were still so different though, that when schools played each other, they had to determine before hand which type of football would be played and which rules they would use.  As the games became more structured and defined, they took on names to identify each, and instead of schools just playing “their kind” of football, they actually organized different teams to play different kinds.

Today we can identify dozens of different styles of football, including:

  • Rugby (named after Rugby School in Rugby, Warwickshire, England),
  • Gaelic football (an Irish sport as popular as any other type of football, but does NOT allow players to be paid)
  • Australian football (kinda looks like Rugby, and they call soccer… um, “soccer”)
  • Canadian football (looks like American football, but with 12 men)
  • International Rules football ( a combination of Gaelic and Australian Rules)
  • American football (from Pee-Wee to the NFL)
  • Association football (soccer)

to name the most popular.

Soccer however is the most popular football game in the world today, and is played professionally on every continent except Antarctica.  With 166 different professional leagues, with hundreds more divisions below the “Premier/A /1st Division, mathematically speaking, if you love the game and truly want to play professional soccer, there is a team for you somewhere in the world.


About Author

Mike Slatton is a 2nd generation American youth soccer coach since 1984, and the son of one of the nation's first female licensed youth soccer coaches (Anita Slatton, 1979). He's also a professional soccer scout, a player since 1977, and the father of three adult and teenage children who all play or have played the game. "My job as a youth soccer coach is to develop detail oriented problem solvers who can react quickly under pressure. This relates to life - not just soccer."

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