Beckham and United class of '92 the perfect role models
21 December 2010 09:36
Computer games will no doubt dominate the contents of Christmas sacks this Saturday morning but former United kids' guru Eric Harrison is urging parents to fill stockings with footballs, boots and kits. Harrison was given a well- deserved name check in an emotional acceptance speech by David Beckham on Sunday evening when the ex-Red and one-time England captain received a lifetime achievement award by the BBC at the Sports Personality of the Year evening. The Youth team boss of the famous Class of 92, that also gave United Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Gary Neville as well as Beckham, fears for the future of football and sport in general and hopes a new culture of dedication might be on the horizon. And Harrison believes Beckham is the perfect role model for a new generation of youngsters who should ditch the electronic on-screen pastimes for the open air. I would urge all parents to wrap up some kind of sporting item in their children's sacks for Christmas morning, Eric told M.E.N. Sport. Any football present that encourages them to get out and practise like kids used to would be brilliant for the sport. But anything that might promote sports of all kinds, any physical activity is desperately needed. Times have changed, there is no question about that and we are breeding a softer generation. There has been a major shift in emphasis and we need to get back to the days when parks were filled with boys and girls playing football or some form of sport not sat in their bedrooms looking at a screen. I walk my dog in the park every day and I never see any kids there just kicking a ball around or running about. Years ago they'd all be out there. I will give them a bit of leeway and say that they have an excuse when it comes to kicking a ball against a wall or something like that because they would probably get arrested these days! But they should be encouraged to get out there. When I think about the future for football, for instance, it really worries me. Wayne Rooney was probably the last of the street footballer who has made it from kicking a ball around in the road to the big time. I wonder just how many of that type of player will come along in the future. Harrison's most famous pupil Beckham spent hours with a football in his back garden, growing up in Leytonstone. It was a ritual that never changed as he made every effort to become a professional footballer with United. David is a fantastic role model, added Eric. Beckham role model Any young player should be encouraged to look at how he made it in the game and why. The same goes with all that magic group we had. As youngsters they'd be training every day of the week and then would be out practising late in the afternoons as well. Not only that but I also used to coach the even younger boys twice a week after school in the evenings and lo and behold that group of players would be back at night playing again! I could never tell the manager that. Sir Alex Ferguson is very keen on rest for the younger players and I just did not dare tell him lads like David and his mates from that team were returning in the evening just so they could play and improve. They really were a special bunch in that respect and no matter what people say about me helping them through I think you would have had to be a real dummy for them not to have made it. They were such a determined group and such nice people as well. They were a joy to work with. They were the easiest group of footballers I have ever had to work with. Professional football is a hard and demanding business. Both physically and mentally you have to be very very strong to make it. Even if you have the skill if you are not up to it in mind and body then you will quickly fall by the wayside. The rewards are there eventually if you have all that but it doesn't come easy and I just fear that too many young players these days want the trappings of success without having to put in the hours to achieve it. As good as David Beckham was skill-wise, and players like Ryan and Scholesy, you'll struggle to make it if you haven't got the attitude and work ethic. They all had it and that kind of young player is becoming a thing of the past. I'd love to see the parks busy with players and a ball being kicked up and down a street and against a wall. That's the only way things are going to start looking brighter for football and sport in this country in general. What do you think? Have your say.