The FIFA World Cup has just ended with all the bright lights and a whole month filled with rapturous excitements. There have been losses and victories, ups and downs but generally everyone agrees the whole tournament was well hosted by South Africa and the memories will linger for a long time. In this treatise, I seek to bring out 7 valuable lessons we can apply to everyday life as seen from the competition.
1. IT’S ALL ABOUT GOALS- In the entire competition , Spain had the highest number of shots at goal with over 110 shots. Ghana was second to Spain with 101 shots at goal- and in spite of exiting at the quarterfinals. Nigeria on the other hand took a paltry 32 shots at goal. The difference between Spain and Ghana was scoring accuracy. Life is all about goals- setting them and going after them. A life without goals is a life not worth living. As one proceeds through life, it is important to maintain focus and shoot at goal. The inalienable truth is that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take- so keep shooting. It is not about playing brilliantly or playing for applause. The greatest applause you can get is when a goal is scored.
2. KEEP POSSESSION- Keeping and maintaining possession is often an indication of superior passing skills. Spain had a passing completion rate of 81% followed by Brazil at 79%. Nigeria had a completion ratio of 68%. Keeping possession is an indication of your discipline and tactical approach to play. Life requires discipline- discipline of emotions, natural instincts, appetite and the body. For someone working with a team, it means you must not be the weak link. The more you keep possession, the more you can control the outcome of the game. Don’t leave your life to chance. Be the master of your own fate and destiny. Your ball possession protects you from conceding too many goals- which was why Spain only conceded 2 goals in the competition.
3. RESPECT COMPETITION BUT DON’T FEAR THEM- Germany devoured England and Argentina- both super-powers in football. Switzerland defeated Spain in their opening game. A healthy dose of respect of opponents is good but fear brings torment. It was the fear of Argentina that made Nigeria celebrate defeat like victory. Go head-long into the game of life and don’t be afraid of pedigrees. Pedigrees are only as good as the moment. Always look for a chance to confound your detractors.
4. OPPORTUNITY COMES ONLY TO THE PREPARED- It was clear from the way Nigeria prepared for the competition that we would not make it very far. When a person always depends on luck, then tough luck becomes an accomplice. It is very clear that Spain was one of the most prepared teams of the competition-especially after their Euro Cup glory. Abraham Lincoln wrote, ’ I will prepare myself and one day my chance will come’. Preparation is key to ultimate triumph.
5. IT’S ALRIGHT TO LOSE AT TIMES- Spain lost their opening game and went on to win the Cup. Failure is not final. Failure can be the spring board for future success. Spain was even written off after the first match but they subsequently put their acts together. Everyone has their ‘off’ days but you must win when it matters. When you lose, learn your lessons and move on. How do you react to failure? Your answer to this question will determine how far you will go.
6. IT IS NOT OVER UNTIL YOU WIN- During the competition, only 6 goals were scored on the dot of 90 minutes and after regulation time. Two goals particularly stand out- Asamoah Gyan’s goal against the USA and Iniesta’s goal during the final match. You just must keep playing until you hear the whistle. Keep up the pressure, take the battle to the opponents and don’t just sit back. Make every attempt possible to come out tops. You can score the winner in extra time.
7. PREPARE FOR SPOT KICKS- The truth is that life is not fair at times. It doesn’t give you what you deserve even after you have prepared and played your role. The game sometimes drag into extra-time and penalties. Then it becomes a game of chance. You must develop the mental fortitude and tenacity to hold on for some more time. Look inward and bring up your reserves of energy. That is the time that you should play with your last breath. The player to take the spot kick is all alone. Success or failure rests solely upon him. The celebration of a whole nation hinges upon whether he succeeds or not. Taking a penalty kick requires faith- faith in your ability to succeed when it matters. It requires boldness- ability to seize the moment. At that point, it is no longer about how brilliant you are- even the best strikers lose penalties. There is no team member to blame for your foibles. The Coach has already done his part. The decision rests on you. So what do you do? Watch your body language- the goalkeeper is watching. This is your attitude. Step out with courage and just kick the ball.
Bayo Adeyinka writes from Lagos, Nigeria.