Football School: Where Football Explains the World
Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton (with illustrator Spike Gerrell)
Walker Books, 2016
‘But why do we need to know about _______?’
‘What’s _______ got to do with real life?’
If you can’t fill in the blanks based on the experience of youth, then I worry about your childhood. Whether it’s Science or English, Music or History, there are always school subjects that we find harder than others. What we need is a yellow brick road, an engaging way in to that particular world. Well for young football fans, the wardrobe to Narnia has arrived.
Football School, by Alex Bellos and Ben Lyttleton, offers 18 fun lessons ‘where football explains/rules the world’. The book uses cartoons, trivia, jokes and quizzes à la Horrible Histories but this is far from a cheap rip-off. The authors get the balance just right between the entertaining and the educational. Biology (footballers’ poos), Psychology (taking penalties), Politics (football diplomacy) and PHSE (nature vs nurture) are particular highlights, with only English (football jargon dictionary) and Maths (probability of death while playing football) disappointing slightly.
In trying to fit so much into just over 200 pages, Football School naturally spreads itself a little thin but it’s an excellent and significant gateway resource. For teachers and parents, the book offers lessons and activities that can be adapted and expanded to fit whatever purpose. And for kids 8 years and up, the book provides an accessible, real-world route into some very tricky topics.