The ‘FIFA Effect’

Please, please please kindly stay with me on this one because it is relevant and I need your help 🙂

In my private life I have been a UK mini soccer manager and coach for five and a half amazing years and I have watched and coached up to 22 wonderful kids, at times, develop from chasing a ball like a swarm of wasps, through to stringing some tremendous passes together which Brazil fans would be proud of (sometimes 🙂 ).

I say sometimes because at the age of 9 and 10 (and we accept they are still very young) they are still repeatedly doing two things that my fellow coaches and I have been trying to educate and train them against doing for years!

One is getting hold of the ball anywhere on the pitch and insisting they go on a run to try and beat every opposition player, sometimes twice, before passing or shooting at goal!

The second is trying to score from distance, sometimes from the half way line when it falls to their feet!

As I said, we accept they are young and learning, but these two things cause us the most frustration week in and week out.

So I asked my son, Thomas, why these were things that he and his pals liked doing. The answer was brilliant and I must say a total revelation! Yes, it made total and instant sense!

He said the reason he likes running with the ball and/or shooting from quite literally anywhere was because….. wait for it…… he plays too much FIFA (and other football games from all good retailers)!!!

It hit me like a steam train because I have watched him play FIFA and control even his goalkeeper and defenders to dribble up the pitch, around everyone in their way, and have a crack on goal from all distances and angles. It’s brilliant and exciting and would be amazing to see in a real game, but how often does that really happen?

This correlated with what my FA Mentor tells me repeatedly that 10,000 hours of practice makes you an expert – !

It also resonated last week when speaking to an opposition manager who without prompting said some of his players play too much FIFA (and other football games from all good retailers)! No-one is blaming football games here because the kids choose to play them this way, and why not huh, a goal is a goal!

So all the time kids are doing this, which in my world is more than they train and play in the real world, are they becoming experts in things that are just not authentic or, worse still, achievable in reality. Maybe they are and they keep trying to apply it in real matches because of an artificial ‘self trained-in’ instinct. Maybe they think this should be the norm. Fascinating stuff yes, no, maybe?

So I started thinking more and more about this and the other things that worry me as a parent. I’m worried that my kids are growing up too fast, something I constantly hear from other parents and grandparents. We’ve all heard Nanny or Grandad say, “Jeesh, don’t kids grow up so fast these days”!

So why is this? Could it be similar to the ‘FIFA Effect’. Are kids demonstrating more grown up behaviour younger because they are becoming expert at it earlier. Are they eating into their 10,000 hours of practice for becoming an adult faster these days due to outside the evolving influences on their lives?

Music, Games, TV, Films, Social Media. Is the content, and availability of it, them and these channels, via MP3 players, phones, tablets, games consoles, laptops, desktops, the web etc. etc. giving our kids a fastrack in what it takes to be a grown up and therefore causing them to grow up faster. Is this also because the content is becoming more liberal? Is it even a problem?

As a parent, this actually scares me to think about in detail because I don’t know if it’s just progress and beneficial evolution, or breaking my children’s childhoods. Whilst you could suggest it’s beneficial to the development and achievements of humankind, what are the down-sides? Are we seeing behavioural changes in all ages that we do not consider beneficial or acceptable? Or am I just being a paranoid parent!

I believe TV watersheds and film and game classifications are there for a reason, but know that some kids of 9 and 10 are playing 16 rated games because some parents decide it’s acceptable and in some instances the hero fights aliens instead of humans (how it was once described to me). Some game developers (top marks to you) have responded to these concerns and added responsible features, including filtering settings to remove graphic content from the playing experience. Valid or invalid points some will say, but go back to the 10,000 hours thing! 10,000 hours of battling aliens makes you an expert at it potentially, albeit in a virtual world. The trouble and question is if this virtual world ever blends with the real one! Or maybe humans are so advanced they always remain separate.

I don’t knowingly let my children watch or play anything that would breach a classification, however, if others in their classes are, what effect will this have on them when building social relationships. Will they be part of a diminishing minority because they haven’t watched the latest superhero movie and how will they be treated?

So back to what I do for a living, which predominantly involves a transformational approach to attracting, recruiting, managing, developing and retaining the best talent in the world for the best businesses in the world. What impact, if any, does the equivalent of the ‘FIFA Effect’ have on job seekers and employees of today and tomorrow?

Do humans get more of their 10,000 hours communication, playing and living practice in virtual environments these days than ever before? If so, how does, or is, this effecting behaviour and performance at work and expectations and conduct during the various HR processes that are part of their ‘Talent Journey’, e.g. the recruitment process?

Are people losing their communication skills in face to face interactions because they meet more people virtually than physically at times?

Are employers keeping up with the changing wants and desires of evolutionary talent? Should they? Must they to compete? Should they be offering an alternative 10,000 hours of practice?

What do Talent Leaders need to continuously consider and monitor to effectively attract and retain the very best people?

I could ask a million more questions and suggest my view on each but I won’t. I would love to hear your questions and thoughts because they will definitely inform mine.

Oh, and a quick P.S to all football game developers! Any chance you could code your games to make the goalkeeper lose his or her footing at the half way line when dribbling the ball from their own goal up the pitch to aid my coaching aspirations. Cheers very much.


Colin Minto

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *