From little acorns mighty oaks grow

2 mins read

There was the usual sign of resignation among dwindling followers of the Cyprus national team after being subjected to another hammering in a European competition.

Cyprus is not expected to pull up trees on the international stage, and better teams have failed to stop Norway’s Haaland from scoring.

However, as our national sport, the lack of deep analysis of our failures is more worrying than the continuous decline into despair.

It also speaks volumes about how those who govern the game lack any strategy for the future or how to improve the talent pool at the grassroots.

Nobody expects Cyprus to win the World Cup or compete at the elite level of France or England, but there should still be a visible sign of progress in how we play the game.

Over the past decade, Cyprus seems to have gone backwards while countries like tiny Luxembourg have excelled.

So have nations like North Macedonia, Moldova and Armenia – all countries that Cyprus would fancy beating on a good day and definitely do not fear.

Smaller nations are punching above their weight; take Iceland, for example, which has qualified for a major tournament with a population much smaller than Cyprus’.

They wanted to do better, so they planned to create a footballing culture of excellence and challenge the top dogs.

On paper, against most countries, Cyprus will face superior opponents, but that should not stop players from running, tackling and passing – doing the basics right.

Cypriot teams do relatively well in Europe against better-quality opposition, which means local players gain experience in tougher competitions.

Players should be full of confidence on the international stage but lack belief on the pitch that they can win games, especially when going behind.

Winning breeds winners, and losing, more often than not, destroys confidence and lowers expectations to the point people stop caring.

But this shouldn’t mean we expect less from our national team or demand they give everything for the shirt and the flag.

And you know there are problems when more away fans turn up to see a game than home supporters, as in the recent fixture when Cyprus hosted Georgia in Larnaca.

If the Cypriots aren’t going to love their national team, who is?


Fans are likelier to turn up to see opposition players such as Ronaldo or Haaland than their own team.

Somehow, the Cyprus FA has to think creatively to get a new generation of fans to follow the national team and engage with the players.

Unkind critics would say the cronies at the FA are more interested in freebies and travelling abroad than getting results on the pitch.

They can’t keep hiding behind the tired excuse that Cyprus is a minnow nation in a sea of footballing giants – we must at least aspire to do better.

How innovative is the CFA on social media in getting younger age groups involved in watching football – they’re too busy dodging corruption scandals.

The Cyprus team has to be more visible; if you can’t fill the stadium – give free tickets to soldiers and schoolchildren or order them to attend if necessary.

Improving the infrastructure at the grassroots level would be a start, as would producing more highly qualified coaches.

In general, the state should invest more in sports to provide the soft diplomacy that conveys Cyprus’ predicament to win friends and influence people.

As is the way, greed, corruption, and self-interest prevent this island from progressing into the best version of itself.

Unless we demand higher standards, clear pathways for sporting achievement and an inclusive culture that strives to improve, then third best is all we will get.

There are different ways to lose, but have we become too comfortable with defeat to want to change our fortunes?

We must take pride in our athletes and do everything possible to nurture their talents (men and women) and make them proud to represent this country.

Are the people who run football or any other sport doing the best they can do, or if we take a closer look, is there a story of neglect and indifference?