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Ten Real-Life Lessons from Soccer

The Ball is Finally in Your Court

Football, apart from being an entertaining game for both the players and the spectators, also has vital lessons to teach everyone. You don’t have to be a soccer fan to benefit from the wisdom derived from these lessons.

These are the ten lessons drawn from the soccer pitch:

1. Teamwork.

In football, you either hang together or are hanged separately. From the goalkeeper to the scorer, everyone has a role to play. Each pass is a build-up to something. The network of passes results in a goal. You can’t execute a goal on your own. It’s hard to handle the ball on your own from one end to the net, without passes. A team made of selfish players, each eager to score on his own for the glory’s sake, can hardly win a match. Everyone’s focus should be to help secure a win for the team, not self-glory.

It’s the same in real life. A lone wolf must overwork to make a kill, if he is lucky enough. But it’s much easier when the efforts are coordinated. Teamwork pays, be it in an organization, military, village or government. When we share our ideas, we progress faster. Lions find it hard to penetrate through a herd of wildebeests moving together. But once the flock is scattered and confused, it’s easy to win capture one of them.

2. Don’t Rely On One “Best Player”

A team may have an unusually talented player who always scores. But it is unwise to always look up to him for the decisive goal. Each player must work like he is the real star. Putting all hopes in one best player might mess everything if he gets a severe injury or is red-carded. He may get sick on the day of a critical match, like the finals. Will the team stop playing because Pele, Drogba, Ronaldo or Rooney has a fractured leg?

In real life, no man should be more important than the rest. People are all equal. Some of us may be exceptionally wiser, smarter, richer, more handsome or pretty, but basically, we are all human beings. Each of us has a role to play in the society. The swift doesn’t always win the race.

3. Attack Is the Best Defense

The team that plays thick-wall defense but never attacks can only draw or eventually lose. If winning is not the aim, then a loss will be the outcome. It is good for the team to defend its territory, but it should constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to penetrate the enemy line. Taking the fight to the opponent’s door and eventually into his house (ball on the net) is the only route to success in football.

In life, learn to take risks. Don’t be over-cautious. Protect what you already have, but also find ways to expand. Stagnant water will soon become a breeding ground for bacteria then smell awful. Expand your business; go for higher learning if you can afford it. Invest your wealth on profitable lines. Don’t be afraid of making losses. To some extent, life is a risk. But make wise moves.

In the military world, sometimes the country that carries out a pre-emptive attack wins the war before it even begins. Such an attack can completely paralyze and discourage the enemy. Human beings are prone to psychological demoralization. All you do is make them lose confidence in their abilities.

Do not wait to be attacked so that you can defend yourself. Sometimes read the signs of the times and strike first, like a cobra.

4. Respect The Authority.

The referee is the ultimate police and judge in the playing field. He decides what’s right or wrong. A player may not necessarily like him or his decisions, but the player has to continuously obey him to remain on the pitch. Each player has to follow the football rules designed for fair play. The whistle is not just a sound; it is a symbol of authority. Any player caught offside have to retreat when the whistle is blown.

Like in real life, obey the laws of the land. Just as the referee has powers to yellow-card you or red-card you to the bench, so has the government of the day powers to jail you if you disregard the laws meant to enhance harmony and the common good. Obey your parents if you still live under their roof, obey the class prefect, the teachers, and the principal, obey the sheriff, obey the traffic rules and the traffic police, obey the admin of the Whatsapp group or Facebook group you are in. In short, respect anyone in authority.

5. Make Hay While The Sun Shines.

Don’t wait until last or extra minutes to desperately seek a goal. Play hard from the word go. Putting frantic efforts only after the opponents have scored more is not the way. It may work, but it’s difficult.

In life, the right time to win is now. Don’t wait until you are aged or towards retirement to start planning your life. Now is the time. Strike while the iron is hot. You may not get another opportunity. Don’t postpone for tomorrow the things you can or should do today. Don’t be reactive; be pro-active. Don’t wait until you see your friend driving a car for you to start saving to buy yours.

6. Know Your Enemies.

Understand how your opponents play. Check their history of soccer before the day arrives. Study each player. How fast is he? How slippery?

In life, you can only fight what you know. You can’t go to war with an enemy whose tactics, arsenal capacity or fighting skills are unknown. In short, try to understand and size up your rivals, be it in your village, at the workplace or class. That can help you maneuver them if push comes to shove. Stay on the watch. This is in no way a call to make enemies or to be foxy, but the reality is that sometimes it is hard to avoid being at crossroads with certain individuals.

7. Stocktaking

Halftime is for stock-taking. It is not just the time to sip water; it’s a back-to-the-drawing-board moment. The coach usually seizes this opportunity to motivate, admonish or advise his team. New tactics or game plan may be hatched at this brief moment to overcome the opponents.

There are half times in real life too. December holidays, serving time in prison, etc. These are moments to slow down and reflect. See where you have been going wrong. When the New Year comes, get your New Year resolutions ready. Don’t use the same old failing formulae over and over and still expect different results. Go to the drawing board, take stock and come up with a new idea. Change tact if things don’t work.

8. The Boss Isn’t Always Perfect.

The referee may be the ultimate authority, but he is not infallible. Sometimes he gets it wrong. That’s why there are cameras and videos to assist him, especially after he is deemed to have made the wrong decision. If the video outside the pitch proves him wrong, he can change his mind. For instance, he can then award a penalty if the video shows there was a hand-touch within the penalty area.

In life, if you are in any high position, don’t carry yourself like a god. Listen to advice offered, even by your subordinates. They could be seeing something your eyes can’t reach. And when you are on the wrong, accept. Turn around humbly, without ever harboring grudges towards whoever pointed out your errors.

9. Hope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst

There’s no guarantee that your team is going to win the next match. Always bear in mind that it can go either way. Let no outcome take you by extreme surprise. Great teams have lost games to inferior teams.

That’s life. Even the well-laid down plans sometimes fail. You do your best, you invest wisely, you eat healthy food, you study hard, but you still end up on the wrong side. Although hard work pays, it’s not always the case. So hope for the best, aim higher, but prepare for the worst.

10. Humility In Victory, Dignity In Failure

After the match, the winners and losers often shake hands. The winners celebrate their hard-earned victory, but they don’t go about mocking the losers. The losers, on the other hand, are not supposed to go crazy, blaming the referee, blaming the weather, blaming the wind, blaming their coach, blaming everyone but themselves. They are expected to accept defeat, regret, maybe cry a bit, but to never tear themselves up in the name of losing a match. That’s going overboard, no matter the prize at stake.

In life, if things are going well for you, be glad but don’t be proud or arrogant. As you celebrate your success, be sensitive of the less fortunate around you. Don’t make them feel miserable and unworthy.

If you happen to be in the disadvantaged lot, don’t moan to the point you become a laughing stock. Carry yourself with dignity, even in your misery.

Conclusion

All in all, football is a lovely game. It’s one of the games played in every country.

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