Wednesday 8 September 2010

The David Beckham Academy: Captain Incredible

The David Beckham Academy: Captain Incredible by Emily Stead, illustrated by Adam Relf (Egmont)

PB RRP $12.95
ISBN 978-1-4052-5165-5
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

At the David Beckham Academy in London, boys and girls go to learn about football (soccer), develop their skills while having fun, gain self-confidence, and learn team work.

The main characters in this sports story are Dan, VJ and Mia. Dan has won a competition and the prize was two days at the Academy. VJ is a dreamer, and all he dreams about in class is soccer. Mia is bossy and controlling, and is the Captain of her school team’s under- elevens, therefore feels it is her right to captain this team as well. All the arrivals share a common goal no matter what brought them to the same destination. They long to live their dream for two days as they take part in competition games against other teams. The ultimate reward is a trophy for the winners.

The Academy turns out to be larger than anything the children expected. They are given royal blue Academy uniform kits, and end up on the same team, Brazil. They are all shy with one another at the start. Their coach, Woody, loses no time and gets them all out on the field for a warm up in preparation for selection.

These children know their game. They live it and breathe it. For some, it is all they have of interest in their lives. This is the beginning of a great accomplishment for the group as they play under the colours of various countries and work their way to the trophy.

But it is hard work and many lessons must be learnt. There is no place for pride or self-gratification. Group effort is what propels them to the winner’s position and vanity is washed away. The importance of reporting an injury also comes home to each and every player when VJ injures his ankle and delays the reporting of it to his coach. There are rules that must be adhered to, and for some of the children, this doesn’t come easy.

These are inspiring stories for all children in the 7+ age group who have any interest at all in any sport, not only soccer. The ethical parts of playing group sports are accentuated, particularly that of team spirit, working together for a common goal and respecting the rules of the game as well as one another regardless of their position on the field.

The illustrations play a large roll in the communion of text and image. Although black and white, the pictures are alive on the page and follow the text closely to give an intimate view of the story.

David Beckham’s photo is on the front of every book in the series of which there are now six, and the covers are in a glossy finish with full colour pictures, with royal blue the dominant colour.

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