Brazilian Soccer Schools (BSS) is the 'brain-child' of Simon Clifford, a PE teacher who, like hundreds of teachers across the UK, gave his own time to coach local children after school. However it was when the Brazilian international, Juninho, signed for his beloved Middlesbrough FC, that Simon Clifford's true destiny was realised and by some quirk of fate he bought a season ticket a few seats away from Juninho's father.
One day, a chance conversation over a half time coffee lead to a blossoming friendship with the World Cup winning forward. Clifford convinced Juninho to come to his after school training classes to meet the kids and see the techniques he was using from Holland, "He said to me, 'This is a load of rubbish. It is like learning to swim on dry land.'" Juninho introduced Clifford to Futebol de Salão, a smaller, heavier ball that is used in Brazil, along with a radically different approach to teaching football. With Clifford's drive and enthusiasm and Juninho's knowledge and experience of South American coaching techniques, the first Brazilian Soccer School was born.
Now, a few years on, Clifford has over 300,000 children enrolled in his soccer academies and his graduates are beginning to work their way into top flight clubs, BSS has even seen it's first full international player in Micah Richards. Clifford's ideas are starting to influence people in the game across all levels. It is amazing to think of the consequences of that one fateful encounter with Juninho's father.
The central aim of Brazilian Soccer Schools is to encourage children to spend longer working with the ball practicing and developing their skills. Everything that we do has this in mind and at BSS training sessions almost all of the time will be spent working with the ball at your feet.
The programme has evolved into what we now believe to be the most complete development programme of any sport anywhere in the world.
The BSS syllabus covers every area of football and whilst our coaching is by no means exclusively Brazilian there are 3 key aspects that have their origins in Brazil:
Futebol de Salão
Emphasis on Individual Skills
Increased time training
We do not focus too much on the game of Futebol de Salão, although it is an excellent game in its own right, but more use the game and special characteristics of the ball as a development tool. For developing quick feet, close dribbling and passing skills we have found nothing better than Futebol de Salão. Children at BSS spend roughly two-thirds of their time working with the size two Futebol de Salão balls and the remaining third with a conventional ball working on areas such as longer passing, shooting, heading and of course match situations.
Throughout all ages of our coaching the strongest emphasis is put on developing fully the technical skills of every child. Skills from basic to complex are broken down into easily learnable phases for children and then these moves are taught and repeated many times until the children become accomplished at performing these skills first as individuals and then gradually against other children and later in games. Repetition of all skills from passing the ball in a straight line through to some of the amazing juggling skills you see from our children is stressed throughout.
We believe that children do not spend enough time training, they may spend a lot of time playing matches, but generally children do not spend enough time working on their skills and thus at BSS we have a full syllabus for children from 5 years old to 16 year old whereby an increased duration of actual time spent training and working with the ball is a crucial element in our work.
BSS are changing the way that football is played at the highest level, by changing the way that we train children to play the game, however this cannot happen without children spending increased time practicing their skills. At BSS we also strongly encourage the ethos that it is vitally important for children to become good people before they can become good football players. This might sound slightly grandiose but it is something we take very seriously and into the future we hope that people will take notice of this as much as the fantastic players that the programme is developing.