World Cup: Life lessons to learn from the season

Japan team celebrates  after scoring the first goal during the Qatar 2022 World Cup round of 16 football match between Japan and Croatia. PHOTO/afp

What you need to know:

Play your role to your best and trust that the others have the sense to do the same

French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre posits that there is no meaning or purpose in life other than what an individual’s freedom is able to create and it is, therefore, up to people to rely on their resources to do this. And indeed life can seem meaningless if we just let ourselves get lost in our toils, wars and disappointments. But we have been able to invent things that give us pleasure and elevate the value of life. One of those pleasures is sports and football in particular. 

While it is known as the beautiful game, it is also a form of war that creates temporary orphans and widows for either the 90 minutes or a whole season. Football just as the army rewards ability; your race, wealth or pedigree are all useless on the field. That is why a third world country such as Ecuador was able to humble their gracious host in spite of all Qatar’s razzmatazz and on opening day nonetheless.

Football is played in the light and everyone is free to judge the players. In the comfort of our homes we are able to critic those we think are not good enough and praise those we think are exceptional. From watching better teams being foiled by mediocre ones, we learn that sometimes, even the best have a bad day.

You might be exceptional at playing the game but even the best players eventually will have to leave the field. During their time, Pelé and Maradona were synonymous with football but they are now just monuments from the past; so remember to be modest, especially at your peak because a time is definitely coming when you will be brought down to earth.

Learn to celebrate your achievements as they come just as footballers do. As a casual observer of the game, I am still amazed by how much footballers celebrate the first goal with as much passion as the one that wins the trophy.

Find your own style and make the most of it. Each of the greats delighted fans with their distinct play on the field; find yours and make the most of it.

Even the mighty must play by the rules that is why every game has a referee who will not be afraid to call Cristiano Ronaldo to order should he foul.

Life is a collaborative process the reason there are different players on the field. No one can do everything to their best; you need others to win the game. Recognise that you are human and will get tired at some point. Always have a reliable person on the bench to take up your position should the need arise.

Games are not won on the field on match day but rather they are a culmination of endless hours of training, planning and discipline. Footballers take time to understand what makes their opponents tick and come up with a game plan to beat them at their own game. Do you have a game plan for your own career or life generally or you are just managing each crisis as it comes?

Do you choose to live life according to your indulgencies or you are conscious of how you spend your time, whom you spend it with and what you feed your body? Do you treat your body well enough to be able to support you for the 90 minutes you are required to play on match day?

Apart from a few individuals, most players when on the field play without ego. They forget their differences as individuals and come together as a team focused on accomplishing something bigger than themselves.

For the team to succeed, each one is required to play their particular role and not to interfere with another person’s. In life too, you should learn to not let your ego get in the way of progress. Play your role to your best and trust that the others have the sense to do the same and when necessary, allow making someone else look good.

Nothing causes anguish as much as an injury during a match. Some injuries are minor while others have ended careers. I do not think that any player wakes up thinking about possible injury but when it happens they take it in good spirit and either focus on rehabilitation or change careers. So, in life, you will experience plenty of setbacks; you can either choose to dwell on them and spend your life complaining about the injustice of it all or concentrate on getting better for the next game.

I wish you all the best of the world cup season.


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