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Kids Need Education 10/01/02

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BBC Sport's Alan Hansen gives his views on the modern day trappings of professional football to BBC Five Live.

Football in England is going through a difficult time, with players' professional and personal indiscipline causing a furore in the media. Players are, of course, responsible for their own actions, but football in the 21st century is big business, and the game as a whole needs to recognise this and attempt to combat the problem.

Many aspects of the game have changed for the better in recent years, in particular the attitude to diet and alcohol which, despite recent evidence, is much better than it was 20 years ago. But players' wages are sky high now, and the huge amount of money these young lads earn is a real problem. If you're a 21-year-old kid earning fortunes, and you've got a lot of spare time on your hands, temptations are everywhere you turn. You think you own the world and believe that you're a big star. It's only natural.

There's no way you can condone players going to a nightclub 36 hours before they should be playing football. But kids of that age want to do what their mates are doing, going to nightclubs and parties.
But that makes you a target, particularly from drunk people.

As you get older you learn to avoid certain places, and my advice would be to just avoid night clubs all together. But I realise that that is easier said than done.

Education
So how to combat the problem? Are clubs and football as a whole doing enough to protect and educate their youngsters?

I was delighted to hear that Tony Adams, Paul Gascoigne and Paul Merson are to tour clubs across the country and urge young players to avoid their mistakes. They've learnt from their past, and want to help the next generation avoid the many pitfalls that lie in wait for them. Clubs must support this scheme, and back it up with their own initiatives.

But football is not in as dire a state as has been painted in the media in recent days. There are many great role models in the game, like David Beckham, Michael Owen and Gary McAllister. Let's hope that young sportsmen will look at their achievements and realise that to be a winner you have to look after your body.