Betfred Sport

Sunday football - Barcelona style

Total Football writer Jasmit Jabbal had dreams of being a pro. He genuinely believed that, one day, a scout would spot him and snap him up.

No scouts turned up to watch him, and the only snap was of the cold winter kind, when toes and fingers get that frozen feeling and studs clatter on hard, frost-kissed pitches.

Jasmit's anticipation that one day he might be spotted was not unlike the dreams of many other youngsters around the world. With the realisation that he was more likely to see a man with a dog watching him play than a scout and that the dream of playing football for a living would never come true, he wondered if there was another way to realise his dream of making a difference in football.

A lightbulb went off. He could try his hand at management, or coaching. After all, the likes of Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson were never known for being great players. Like many millions of others around the world, success in computer management games has led Jasmit to believe that he might just have what it takes to be a successful manager.

The difference is that Jasmit is taking what he has learned from being a manager in a virtual world into the real world. Now living in Barcelona, Jasmit is applying his managerial and coaching skills learned on a computer screen to trying to help a Barcelona-based Sunday team improve.

We'll be following Jasmit's progress. Can learning from computer simulations make any impact to a Sunday league side, let alone a side in Barcelona where trying to reproduce the skills of local hero Lionel Messi (pictured) takes on a whole new meaning?

Jasmit kicks off his new diary by talking us through how he came to start coaching Barcelona team Darwins - and we'll see over the coming weeks if Jasmit's computer-generated managerial style can improve the side's fortunes.

Am I a football manager?

I was 17 when I officially gave up on the dream that some scout will watch me playing Sunday league football or five a side and decide to sign me up.

I consoled myself in my success as a player starring in Pro Evo and FIFA games for a further two or three years, until even that became foolish. By then I had now grasped a new dream, becoming a football manager.

For the few football fans who don’t know, Football Manager is a computer game that simulates what it is to be an actual manager.

Now, obviously, it is essentially a computer game that is based on statistics and does not actually make you a good manager in reality. Or so you would think. Being a Football Manager veteran and success story, I have decided to see if I can utilize any of my cyber skills in the real world.

I moved to Barcelona in January and joined an amateur team in the Barcelona International Football League. Your typical Sunday league football it is not. For instance, the pitches are all astro turf and the referees condemn physical challenges rather than condone them.


The standard is pretty decent, and the environment means that tactics do make a huge difference. It is not about the most physical team or the team with the most skilful players, but the most organised team playing with a system that suits their abilities.

I joined the mighty Darwins in January... who went on to finish bottom. At the same time as my arrival as a Darwin player, my friend Rodney Ballantine joined our ranks. He is a football coach by trade and when the season ended we decided to coach the side to see if we could muster any improvement.

To be fair, Rodney is doing most the coaching. I am just using my years of experience as a cyber football manager God to aid him. Over the coming weeks I will provide an insight into the trials and tribulations of an amateur team and see how much difference a bit of coaching can make.

The point being, that all amateur players have at one time harboured the dream of making it, and secretly feel that with the right coaching from a young age they may have been good enough. Well, let us see if these lads can make it as amateur players with some coaching - and perhaps even the knowledge gained from many hours of success on a computer.

Come on you Darwins. Watch this space...

By Jasmit Jabbal

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