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Keeping Football-mad Kids Entertained During Coronavirus Lockdown

For some families, football is an essential part of how they operate – here are some ideas to keep the game alive at home
If you have a football-mad kid in the house, the chances are that you’re scratching your head wondering what to do with them to fill the void during coronavirus lockdown.

With schools closed, no live football on TV, no training to go to or youth matches to play, a lot of the things that used to pack the calendar have been temporarily wiped out.

With that in mind, Goal brings you some suggestions for what to do with your football-crazed children.

African wonderkids who never realised their potential
What to do:
-Let them play FIFA or PES
-A kickabout in the garden
-Watch classic football matches online
-Colour in or draw their favourite footballers
-Watch football movies & documentaries
-Play Football Manager
-Get them to read football books
-Introduce them to classic football games
-Let them play FIFA or PES

Video games such as FIFA 20 or eFootball Pro Evolution Soccer 2020 (and, indeed, their predecessors) are an ideal alternative to the real thing when it comes to football.

Ordinarily, you might find yourself scolding the kids for playing too much video games, but there’s no denying their use in these trying times when people are confined to their homes.

The good thing about it is that the kids can play online with their friends on Ultimate Team, so there is an added social dynamic as well – even professional footballers are playing against each other!

Why not join them for a game? We’ve put together the perfect FIFA 20 beginner’s guide if you fancy trying your hand!

We’ve got loads of tips and advice here:

FIFA 20 or PES 2020: Which should I get?
How to become a better FIFA 20 player
Coin-making tips and tricks for FUT
Complete guide to FIFA 20 chemistry
Best young players on FIFA 20
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A kickabout in the garden
In the immortal words of Irish punk rock band Sultans of Ping FC , give them a ball and a yard of grass – they’ll give you a move with a perfect pass .

Lockdown is a particularly trying time for people who are normally very active, so those who had regularly played football will be tapping their feet looking for some sort of release.

If you have a garden or any space at your home that can function as a stand-in for Old Trafford, then use it to your advantage.

Get the kids to practice their first touch, see how many kick-ups they can do, go through drills and so on. Remind them that football will return and it’s wise to stay sharp for when that day comes, so no slacking!

The England national team has launched a ‘Football’s Staying Home’ campaign which will see motivational videos, skills tutorials and throwbacks shared on their YouTube and social channels through the week.

Watch classic football matches online
With the drought of live football looking like it will go on for months, it is perhaps an opportune time to look back on classic games from years gone by.

Now is the moment to demonstrate precisely why it is that you think football was a better game when you were young, or why you believe today’s stars would never have lasted ‘back in the day’.

FIFA is making a selection of memorable World Cup matches available to watch in their entirety for free on its YouTube channel, while uefa.tv is showing classic Euros and Champions League ties.

Why not make an evening of it to watch the quarter-final match between Brazil and France at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, or old school Champions League clashes from the early 2000s?

It is worth keeping an eye on the official channels of individual national associations too. The official England YouTube channel , for example, is running a ‘ReLions’ programme, showing old games, including those from Le Tournoi in 1997 .

Colour in or draw their favourite footballers
Colouring in or drawing is a wonderful and creative way to keep kids occupied at any time, but particularly when they are forced to remain indoors.

Lots of blank outlines of footballers are available online and it’s just a case of printing them off, providing the pencils, crayons or markers and letting the children at it.

Along similar lines, setting your football-mad kids the task of drawing their favourite footballers is another fun way to pass the time, especially if they enjoy arts and crafts.

If you need a little help, Marvel Comics artist Will Sliney has been providing drawing tutorials online via his YouTube channel and social media pages, with people sharing their efforts using the #WeWillDraw hashtag.

Check out the video below, in which Sliney shows us how to draw Everton’s Brazilian star Richarlison.

Watch football movies & documentaries
In case you didn’t know, there are plenty of football movies out there to watch during the coronavirus lockdown and they can help pass a couple of hours.

For the 15-year-old’s and above, some examples include Looking for Eric, which stars former Manchester United star Eric Cantona, the Vinnie Jones classic Mean Machine and The Damned United, featuring Michael Sheen as Brian Clough.

Of course, arguably the greatest football movie of all time, Escape to Victory – starring Sylvester Stallone and Pele – is worth sticking on at any time, not just during a crisis.

You could also tune in to The English Game – a six-part drama about the early days of the sport.

Football documentaries are also available in abundance if you prefer non-fiction stories, with Netflix, Amazon and others offering a wide selection.

How about getting a behind-the-scenes look at Cristiano Ronaldo’s life in the 2015 documentary Ronaldo? Or the trials and tribulations of English club Sunderland in Sunderland ’til I Die (be mindful of the 15+ age rating)?

Channel 4’s On Demand service will also have the hit 2019 documentary Diego Maradona (with a 12+ age rating) available for a limited period, which can be accessed here.

Play Football Manager
Football Manager is the best football management simulation game in the world and it’s also one of the best ways for football fans to kill time.

A long-running series, FM offers gamers a chance to take control of their favourite team and guide them to total football domination.

The game is so detailed that it has been used by professional clubs and it’s easy to see why; you can take the training, set up the tactics and pick the team, as well as sign players, interact with the media and more – nearly everything you can think of, you can do.

The latest edition of the game is Football Manager 2020 and it was made available to play for free for a limited time, allowing those who are unfamiliar with it to get a taster before buying.

It’s available on PC, Mac, tablet and mobile, but fair warning: while it is more or less playable by anyone, it may be more suited to an older kid.

Get them to read football books
There is no shortage of football books to read for avid fans of the game, with plenty of biographies, autobiographies, histories and tactical treatises to get through, most of which are available as ebooks.

Obviously, it will depend on the age of your kids – particularly for some of the more no-holds-barred content contained within many autobiographies – but it could be worth starting the habit of a lifetime. Perhaps you might consider setting up a family football ‘book club’ or ask for some book reports (depending on how cruel – or kind – you want to be).

Luca Caioli has a very accessible series of books on some of the game’s biggest stars, including Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez and more. For those who are more visually inclined, The Illustrated History of Football: Hall of Fame by cartoonist David Squires could be worth acquiring.

There are so many fascinating stories which illustrate just how central football is and has been for cultures across the world. Simon Kuper’s Football Against the Enemy or David Winner’s Brilliant Orange are great examples of how the sport is tightly woven into the social fabric, while Jonathan Wilson’s Inverting the Pyramid is an educational look at the history of football tactics – though these may be more suited to teens.

Introduce them to classic football games
Football-loving kids are spoiled for choice nowadays when it comes to games to play, but in years gone by a bit more imagination was required.

Before video games, Subbuteo was the game of choice for football lovers. A table-top simulation, players could collect teams and figures, as well as build stadium settings in which to play.

You might have box gathering dust in the attic, so why not dig it out and relive the glory days?

Another classic football game worth playing is foosball – table football – but you will need space somewhere to place the table.

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