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History and Background

Samba Soccer Schools first began in 2009. The soccer school was created by Nilio Bagga as a response to some of the challenges he faced playing grassroots and semi-professional football as a youth player.

As you might expect, Nilio was a fan of skillful and entertaining football having mimicked his own playing style on his idol, Ronaldinho. However, each time he attended training or played in a game, he noticed that the coaches would stifle his creativity instead of nurturing it. He went from club to club and experienced the same style of coaching from over-animated coaches who were quick to express their frustration with players. ‘Stop the tricks and just pass the ball long!!’ This was all too familiar for Nilio. He soon realised that the more he played in this environment, the quicker he was falling out of love with the game.

Nilio also recalled that training sessions felt more like a punishment rather than something to look forward to. There was very often one or two footballs between a group of 20 students which reduced the number of touches a player could take and develop skills. The exercises were overly tactical and involved players taking up stationary positions on a full sized pitch only to hear the coach formulate a sequence of passes that never went to plan in a real game.

Times up! Having had the creativity and passion sucked dry out of him, Nilio gave up club football and went back to his roots. He much preferred playing small-sided games on the streets or with his friends before, during and after school. This was fun. And for the first time in a while, he was able to express himself without the fear of making a mistake. He would go home and practice a few tricks he had seen from Brazilian players and then go out and apply them. There was nothing of this sort encouraged in his local community and so Nilio felt there was an opportunity to save other younger players from experiencing the coach-centred training he was exposed to. And from there, Samba Soccer Schools was born.

Nilio developed the concept whilst studying Sociology at the London School of Economics. He recognised the power of football, not only to develop players technically but to also integrate young people from different backgrounds and so he set out to spread his unique philosophy of coaching in London. He also travelled to Brazil and interviewed footballers, clubs, organisations and journalists in a bid to discover more about their fascinating style of play and culture.

Fast forward 10 years, there are now multiple centres operating weekly in London. What you see today is a soccer school that prides itself on ball mastery and fun! Each player enjoys exploring skills from a robust coaching curriculum with samba music playing in the back drop fostering an inviting party-like atmosphere. A skills tutorial app is also provided to each member so they can come prepared to each class knowing what is to be taught. Mistakes are encouraged to learn and grow from and coaches are trained to bring out the very best in each child who attends our classes. For Nilio, this is how youth football ought to be played.