Small beginning: Oscar opens up on self-taught football

Brazilian midfielder Oscar will be representing live in his home country for the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament. The Chelsea player in his upcoming book ‘Oscar’s Brazil’ with author Tom Watt has revealed all about his beginning in football.

The book that will have its sales help Casa de Zezino, a project in Sao Paulo in helping homeless children also throws light on football in Brazil.

Oscar writes:
I grew up in a suburb of Sao Paulo called Americana. Life was very different there compared to the centre of the city. There are drugs, crime and the threat of  violence everywhere but Americana was a calmer, more relaxed place and the problems weren’t anything like the poorer neighbourhoods of Sao Paulo.

It was a good place to be a boy who liked football. Americana was safe enough to go off and play on my own in the park. I could be out there all day, every day. Perfect!

I learned how to play football as a kid through trial and error, playing every day in the street or in the park. When you start kicking a ball about in Brazil, there are no tactics. Whoever can dribble the ball and score just does it. And that’s what I learned to do.

I played futsal (small-sided indoor football) right up until I turned professional at 16. I think Brazilian football has reached the level it has because of futsal. The pitches are smaller. The goals are smaller. You have to be faster in everything you do; particularly, you have to make quick decisions

If you’re dribbling, you have to do it by controlling the ball in a much smaller area. If you’re shooting, you must be much more accurate because the goal – the target – is smaller.

A lot of Brazilian players are self-taught like me. My first coaching didn’t come from a club but a local escolinha, a soccer school run by the municipality so you didn’t have to pay. There was one near to where I lived next to a little local pitch.

By the time I joined my first club, Sao Paulo, I had already developed my style of play.  Sao Paulo was an hour away from where I grew up. It is a fantastic city, with everything you could want; restaurants, shops, things to see and do. It’s a very busy city.

Everyone else in Brazil says people from Rio are just on the beach all day, every day. Paulistanos, they say, just work all the time; people from the south are bad-tempered. We all get stereotyped! 

At Sao Paulo they said I was going to be like a new Kaka. I was supposed to do all the things Kaka had done with the club. I wanted to say: ‘No, I’m just me.’

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