Only less than 24 hours ago, the whole world witnessed the newly crowned European Champions Spain totally annihilate their final opponents Italy on their way to a second consecutive continental title. In what was arguably the best European Championships to date, Spain peaked just at the right time to seal their place in footballing annals.
Now, let us take a look at eight things we Malaysians in particular can take out of the tournament successfully co-hosted for the first time by two Eastern European countries.
Developing countries can successfully organize and host major sporting events
Despite early fears prior to the tournament, both countries did a good job in hosting. Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure Minister Borys Kolesnikov confirmed that Euro 2012 incurred the lowest organization costs ever for a European Championship.
Facilities must be refurbished and well maintained to draw the crowds
According to Ukrainian coach Oleg Blokhin, good facilities will attract more people to come watch football and this will influence the development of football. Kiev’s Olympic Stadium that hosted the final was opened in 1923. Compare that to the deteriorating National Sports Complex in Bukit Jalil completed as recent as 1998. Local stadium owners can probably take inspiration.
Quality pitches help improve the football
Blokhin again said after the England game that without quality pitches it is very difficult to raise the quality of the games. If what he said is anything to go by then something must definitely be done about the pitches used in MSL, as they leave a lot to be desired.
Size doesn’t matter
For years, the common excuse associated with failings at international level for Malaysia is that our players are too small. Spain, who just won the whole thing, brought a squad that had an average height of only 180 centimetres.
Important to have a blueprint for grassroots development
Spain and Germany are the perfect examples as they set theirs over 10 years ago and have adhered strictly to them, as we know to great effect.
Playing for your nation is an honour
The Europeans showed how much it meant for them to pull on their national colours. Steven Gerrard of England and Italy’s Danielle De Rossi are only two examples of players who went to great lengths to carry on playing for their countries even when crippled with cramps and tiredness.
Strong and competitive domestic league most definitely produces strong and competitive national team
Almost all of the teams that participated have got a league back home that is quality and competitive. The semi-finalists have arguably the best four leagues in Europe and it is not surprising that majority of all four’s players come from their own league. Malaysians can take heart from the fact that our own Nazmi Faiz will be playing in one of them very soon.
Football can become a rewarding career
Finally, Malaysian parents should take note that football could be the rice bowl of their children, if they really go for it. Most footballers at the Euros come from a humble beginning but got to where they are now through sheer hard work.