Which Is the Best Country in the World to Play Football In?

Which Is the Best Country in the World to Play Football In?

As the most popular sport in the world, football unites people across countries, languages and cultures. And there is no shortage of countries producing players and teams at the very top of the game. But, if there were a league table of the best countries in the world to be a football player (or, indeed, coach!), which country would come out on top?

We decided to find out.

We’re not just talking about actual match performance here, although that’s obviously important! We know which countries tend to do well at the big tournaments. We’re talking about funding, climate, history and more. All of these things come into creating the right environment for football to thrive. 

Using data from a range of sources, including FIFA and the World Happiness Index, we looked at the following metrics:

  • Climate (sunshine hours per year)
  • FIFA ranking (men’s and women’s)
  • Stadium capacity
  • Number and age of clubs
  • Top-flight revenue
  • Salary
  • World Happiness Index score
  • Cost of living

We assigned each a value out of 10 and then compiled the results into our league tables. 

And the Winner Is…

It should come as no surprise to us that, taking all the above criteria into account, the winner is… England! 

Despite not having the best performance at the international level, or indeed the best climate (shocking, we know), England’s unsurpassed footballing heritage and culture, the capacity of its stadiums and the revenue of its top flight clubs all helped push it to the top of the table. With both the highest stadium capacity, and the highest number of domestic clubs, as well as being the home of the world’s oldest football club, England really is at the top of the beautiful game.

Germany comes in a close second, followed by Spain, France and Brazil. Here’s the top 10:

Image showing a league table ranking footballing countries by FIFA ranking, culture & heritage, climate & lifestyle. England is at the top.

Interesting Takeaways

When it comes to actual footballing performance (using FIFA’s ranking), our top 2 actually fall down the list. That said, Germany’s women’s ranking is excellent. The top-ranked countries here are Brazil (men’s) and USA (women’s). 

Topping our climate and lifestyle league table was Australia. With its hours and hours of sunshine and laid-back lifestyle, it’s perhaps not surprising. Denmark’s happiness index score and high average salary puts it at number 2, while Germany comes in at 3. 

Image showing a league table ranking footballing countries by climate & lifestyle. Australia is at the top.

England isn’t even in the top 10, however, this just goes to show that we don’t let a little thing like the great British weather stand in our way to footballing glory! 

Brazil is the richest footballing country, coming top for revenue, with England and Germany not far behind, while in terms of footballing history, England is miles ahead. With nine out of ten of the first football clubs in the world having been founded in England (Sheffield FC is the oldest, founded around 1857 for those wondering), it’s hardly surprising. The oldest non-British club is Kjøbenhavns Boldklubb, from Denmark, founded in 1876.

England also has the highest number of domestic clubs (a whopping 942), followed by France with 636, Germany with 366, Spain with 265 and Italy with 177. 

Image showing a league table ranking countries by footballing culture and heritage. England is at the top.

England vs Germany… Again

Paying homage to the decades-old footballing rivalry between England and Germany, we also took a tongue-in-cheek look at the top two, putting them head to head once again in a battle of the footballing greats. As you can see, it’s a close run thing, but, as in the Euros semi finals, England wins out. For once, this one didn’t have to go to penalties…

Visual showing comparison between England and Germany as footballing countries, in a vintage poster-style

Sources:

FIFA Men’s ranking

FIFA Women’s ranking

World Happiness Index

Cost of living

Sunshine hours

Oldest football clubs

Number of clubs

Salary info by country

Coaching kids vs coaching adults – What is the difference?

The sport might be football and the aim might still be to put the round thing in the back of the net, but there are some significant differences when it comes to coaching kids and coaching adults.

When coaching adults, you are dealing with people who have already had a football upbringing. Their approach and attitudes are already shaped, meaning that the adult football coach is either refining a player or trying to remould them.

Children are more of a blank canvas. The youth football coach can impart ideas and skills on impressionable young minds, setting them on their way to football passion and who knows, maybe even stardom?

We have taken a look at five ways differences between coaching adults and coaching kids.

 

Prioritising the love of football over learning about football

 

When working with adults, the priority is to improve those players you work with. Adults already have a love of the game and enjoy playing football, otherwise, they would not dedicate their spare time towards running around and kicking a ball.

Coaches working with children have a far bigger responsibility than just developing skills and abilities. Yes, creating good players is important. More important though is helping children fall in love with football. 

For many kids, their first experience of organised football will come during their coaching sessions. It is no exaggeration to say that their future relationship with the game can be shaped and formed within a few months by how much enjoyment they get from playing the game.

Those coaching youth football have the opportunity to leave a legacy by fostering a passion for football within their players which lasts for the rest of the child’s life. Conversely, if a coach gives them a bad experience then it could be enough to put a child off football. The responsibility is therefore huge.

Only a tiny proportion of children will go on to become professionals or make a career out of football. Any boy or girl no matter what their ability level can be encouraged to have a lifelong affinity to football, however.

A successful youth football coach is never judged on how many of his players make it into the Premier League, the EFL or the higher reaches of the Non-League scene.

The best contribution a coach can make is by encouraging hundreds of kids to have an interest in the sport – which is why prioritising love over learning is so important when it comes to coaching kids’ football.

Coaching youth football requires greater inclusivity

 

Coaching an adult club generally involves working with a group of players who have similar experiences and abilities, hence why they are on the same team. 

That can make session planning easier. There is not such a broad spectrum of individuals who need to be catered for, meaning that a coach can deploy a one size fits all approach to the players being worked with.

Youth football is very different and that means that coaches need to be more inclusive. There will often be a vast disparity in ability between the best players in the group and the less-able.

Some may have been kicking a ball around from the moment they could walk; others might be taking their first steps into a world of formal practice and training.

When coaching kids, attention must be paid to every individual child. Coaches have to cater for various levels of skill, knowledge and even motivation. 

And going back to the earlier point about prioritising love over learning, the best way to both improve and foster a child’s enjoyment of football is to give them the focus they need. 

That is the reason that We Make Footballers place so much importance on one-on-one training and the benefits it can bring to their academies.

Focussing on every individual can make coaching youth football harder work than coaching adults. It would be wrong to try and suggest otherwise.

But when a coach sees a player master the art of scoring goals with their weaker foot or Cruyff turning their way out of a tight spot because of the hours that coach has put in helping that child, the greater inclusivity required becomes all worth it.

Listen to feedback – from children and parents

Feedback is important whether you are coaching adults or kids. When working with adults, it can inform what has worked in a session and what has not. 

This can then be used to inform what happens in future so that a coach can make improvements and attempt to get the best out of their players.

When working with children, feedback becomes even more vital. The best youth football coaches are those who take the adult glasses off and see the world through the eyes of a child. That gives them a better idea of what will work when coaching the young players under their charge.

Of course, getting into the mindset of a child is easier said than done. Listening to what kids liked or did not like about their football training sessions is therefore the best way to bridge the generational divide and understand how to better work with players.

As well as children, youth football coaches have another invaluable source of feedback available to the parents. Some coaches might seem pushy, interfering with parents as an irritant or barrier to what the coach is trying to do with their players.

And whilst it is true that some parents can be difficult, at the end of the day they want the same as the coach – the best for their kids. 

Parents can pass on feedback in the form of what their child has said about recent sessions, as well as what they have been working on in the back garden or up the park away from coaching. 

If used correctly, parents provide eyes and ears for the coach beyond the limited access that a coach has with the child. This can help them better plan for the individual. 

Fostering a positive relationship with parents and seeking feedback from adults as well as children can benefit everyone involved with the coaching children process.

Competition is used in a developmental way

Competition has been a frequent source of controversy in youth football for many years now. In adult football, the need for it is fairly clear-cut – adults play football because they enjoy it, but also to experience that winning feeling that comes with success. You need competition for that.

In kid’s football, competition should be harnessed differently. It serves as a source of motivation to improve skill levels and can be a lot of fun, so long as too much emphasis is not placed on winning.

There is another important side to the competition which children benefit from experiencing – losing. A controlled amount of failure teaches kids as much as winning; both in the need to work hard to get better and avoid defeat next time and in terms of learning about fairness, respect and sportsmanship.

Nobody goes through football – or life for that matter – without experiencing setbacks. Whereas in adult football the aim is to avoid losing, in children’s football it is no bad thing for the long term benefits it brings. 

Competition is important for both adults and children, but very different reasons.

Youth coaches are helping make people as well as players

Playing football benefits children across all areas of life, not just sports. Children who attend We Make Footballers learn about the importance of exercise for their physical and mental health. 

They develop social skills and make friends through a shared common interest in football. Listening to and learning from a coach helps children become disciplined and respectful. Football helps children understand the progress that can be made and the value of hard work.

Coaches become mentors and inspirations. Weekly football coaching sessions keep kids occupied, off the street and out of trouble. That element of youth football is particularly important at a time when budgets are being cut and children are finding themselves left behind.

This is arguably the biggest difference between coaching adults and coaching kids. For adults, the football experience given to them by a coach is just that – a football experience.

For kids, football coaching can teach them lessons and instil in them attitudes and characteristics that last for life. A youth football coach is making people, not just footballers. 

Think you have what it to takes to coach youth football? To find out more about becoming a youth football coach with We Make Footballers, please see the We Make Footballers franchise website.

 

 

 

What makes a good football coaching session?

Every football coach knows that the key to a good coaching session is planning and organisation. Most of the work that goes into a successful hour of training is done in the days leading up to it. The best coaches will have already completed the session on paper and in their heads before they even set foot on the pitch.

But how do you go about planning a good football coaching session? When you sit down to begin putting practice together, ask yourself the five w’s – What, Who, Where, When and Why – and you will not go far wrong.

What?

The starting point for planning a good football coaching session is what the coach wants their players to achieve during their time with them.

Football coaching is ultimately all about improvements, so then what should always be based on areas that a coach has identified in which their players can be improved, either on an individual level or as a team.

Deciding the focus of the training session comes from observations and analysis of recent practices or games. A coach may have noticed that when their team wins back possession, they are often a little too slow when counter-attacking to take advantage.

Improving their abilities on the counter will therefore increase the chances of scoring goals and winning games. The coach subsequently dedicates that week’s training session to quick, incisive football designed to make their players more capable of exploiting counter-attacking opportunities.

On an individual level, the coach will identify weaknesses in their players’ games and look to work on them. Shooting with a weaker foot, long-range passing or standing up an opponent are all examples of areas in which a coach may feel an individual player can improve.

This then filters into tailored one-on-one practice drills for players. We Make Footballers believe that training individuals in a one-on-one environment accelerate their rate of improvement by focussing more on the needs of each child. 

That all stems from the what, making it one of the most important of the five w’s which make up a good football coaching session.

Who?

Once the coach has identified what they want to achieve from their training session, the next area to consider is who is central to this? As they will need to be given relevant roles in drills and practices.

To use the example of improving a team’s counter-attacking abilities again, this is what makes a good football coaching session when the coach would identify that the players who win back possession are vital in terms of starting the counter. 

The success of a break-in football comes from how quickly a team can get the ball into a dangerous position to punish opponents before they can reorganise and recover defensively.

In a coaching session designed to improve a team’s counter-attacking ability, ball winners would be coached to get their heads up as soon as possible to pick a forward pass. 

This may require the ability to play 20 or 30-yard passes that slice through opponents; a skill that the coach may ask their players to work on individually.

At the other end of the move, the centre forwards who are charged with putting the ball in the back of the net need to have specific finishing abilities.

The breakneck speed that a counterattack needs to succeed often means that the final action is a one-touch finish. Strikers who practice first time finishing will be more likely to put away the opportunity created by a counter.

After identifying the key players in what the coaching session is aiming to achieve, the coach can then work out how to fit the rest of the team around it. 

Midfield players or wingers too can benefit from being coached about counter-attacking football as it will require them to improve their speed of thought and their ability to play accurate passes quickly. 

Defenders can learn from attempting to stop the counter from being successful, better preparing them for when they face the tactic themselves in a match situation.

Every session put on by We Make Footballers aims to improve every child there. The who identifies exactly which skill or area an individual will focus on, enabling goals to be set for them accordingly.

Where?

Once the aim of the coaching session has been established and the roles of each player in it, the coach should ask themselves where on the pitch is the drill taking place and how can the location be used to improve performance? This then informs the layout of the practice.

Take playing out from the back for example. The coach may have identified that his team are not entirely comfortable passing the ball around the backline. 

To improve this, they can take their defensive players and put them into a drill whereby they are tasked with keeping possession between them, whilst being pressed by attackers.

There are then two elements to the wherein this coaching session. The first is where would such an action take place in a game? The answer to that is the defensive third, so the coach runs the drill there whilst explaining how players can use visual signposts like the frame of the goal and the penalty box to judge how much space they have and assess their options.

The second element is by implementing a where that is more difficult than the players would face in a game situation. Once more comfortable playing across the back in the defensive third, the coach can squeeze up the space and ask his players to keep possession inside their box.

Suddenly, the drill becomes more challenging and requires a higher level of skill. Once mastered through coaching and practice, the players will find it even easier playing out from the back in their defensive third a match situation.

The use of space and specific areas of the pitch helps build player technique and knowledge. The where reflects that, allowing the coach to improve individual ability and awareness.

When?

When in a match situation does the coaching session topic tend to occur? Different phases of the game are played out under different conditions and attempting to replicate those in training is important if drills are to be realistic and have an impact in-game situations.

More counter-attacking tends to be done towards the end of games as they become more open. Players might be fine breaking at pace, playing quick and accurate passes when they are fresh at the start of a session.

That though is not reminiscent of the tiredness and fatigue they would feel towards the end of a match. The coach would therefore want them practising under similar conditions, learning how to cope with playing effective counter-attacking football when energy reserves may be depleted.

Timing can also be used to impart a style of play on a team or show players the importance of a particular tactic.

To most, Jurgen Klopp’s gegenpress style which has brought so much success to Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund is characterised by relentless pressing. There is more to it than that though.

One of the most important elements is the way Klopp sides hunt for a second goal immediately after scoring a first. A lot of teams will score and then take their foot off the pedal for a period, either to bask in their glory or focus on “Let’s keep it tight now”, as one of the more frequent Sunday League shouts goes.

Klopp instead wants his side to kill the game off straight away. The intensity rises after the first goal as his players go looking to instantly add to their total, further demoralising opponents who are already reeling from having just conceded.

This style of football can be replicated in training. The coach could run an attack versus defence drill whereby the attack has five minutes to score as many goals as possible. 

Five minutes of relentless work to help drill into players that intensity and determination can take a match away from an opponent, even in such a small period. Focussing on the when can be the difference between winning and not winning.

Why?

Finally, the coach should ask themselves why are they doing all this? Whilst it is important for the coach to understand the purpose behind the session, it is even more so that it is communicated to the players.

When a coach explains before a session the areas to be worked on and the purpose of it, players understand what is expected of them. They know why they are working towards a set of objectives and they can analyse their roles and share in the process of improvement.

We Make Footballers view the why as a particularly important component of the coaching process. The best way to fulfilling their commitment to improving every child is by equipping each child with the knowledge of what it is they need to work on and how they can do so.

Players are ultimately responsible for what happens when they step onto the pitch. The coach’s responsibility is to best prepare their players for every eventuality, giving them the tools they need towards having the best possible chance of success.

That starts with a good coaching session. Follow the five w’s in the planning process and you will already be onto a winner.

To find out more about coaching with We Make Footballers and improving the footballing abilities and lives of children in your local area, please see the We Make Footballers franchise website.