The world cup football kicked off on June 15 in Russia. People all over are spending hours before the TV sets with great enthusiasm. Apart from the entertainment the matches provide, a closer look at the performance of each team in the field would be a very enriching and educative experience. It will provide more spiritual insights than many sermons and long prayers. Application of the insights from the match would be very useful for personal growth and improving the quality of our mission. Plenty of practical tips are available in each of these matches for the renewal of our religious communities and their mission.
1. It is a team game with maximum individual involvement:
Though there is scope for every player to prove his talent and win a name for himself, the game basically is a team event. All the members have to collaborate and support each other. The strikers who score goals get the support from the midfielders and defenders. The companions in the forward line support each other by passing the ball and making it convenient for others to strike. The defenders have a tough job not to allow opposition strikers reach anywhere close to the goal. Perhaps no other game demands total and selfless involvement of all the team members to win the game. Every member of the team has to maintain the speed, stamina and collective strategy of the team to score goals. Individuals achieve glory with the help of their team mates. Individual ambition and personal agenda will defeat the game.
When someone shows selfish and individualistic traits, the coach calls him back to the bench. He is substituted by another player. The team can win the title only when all the members play in collaboration with everyone in the team, keeping the goal before them. A momentary distraction and carelessness from the part of even one player can cost the team very heavily. Every player has his place and responsibility to make the team win.
Do we see this kind of teamwork in our organizations and communities? Usually 80% of the work in the organizations are done by 20% of people and 20% of the work is done by 80% people. If all 100% people give their 100% of resources for the community, miracles could happen. Are we ready to learn some lessons from a football match?
2. Speed, stamina and skill:
Football is perhaps the only game which needs maximum stamina and speed from every player. Players are expected to run all over the large field with maximum speed both to attack and to defend. Each player has to maintain the speed and stamina throughout the 90 minute game and another 30 minutes of extra time if required. If any player shows signs of fatigue not being able to maintain speed and stamina, he is taken out without any delay. Even captains and star players are not exempted from this rule.
Together with speed and stamina, every team member has to perfect the skills of passing the ball to the right person at the right time, skill of striking with focus at the goal and playing the game with rules. When these qualities are absent the great teams could be defeated by insignificant teams.
Usually in the communities and organizations, the status and position of people count more than merit. Hence, exceptions for the rules are made to suit the convenience of a particular privileged group. Ultimately, the organization suffers substantially due to the imbalance of the speed and stamina among the team members. Certain areas become weak and vulnerable. Here the opponent strikers take advantage to score the goal. The tired strikers are not able to reach to take the passes supplied by their teammates. Because of this reason players have regular practice to make them fit at all times.
How much efforts we make to make ourselves physically, mentally and spirituality fit? Regular exercises, serious reading of books, newspapers and magazines make us physically and mentally fit. Along with reading and study, constant contemplation about the purpose and priorities of life will keep us spiritually fit. This fitness will help us to make critical judgements and make decisions without delay.
3. Strategy and focus on the goal:
Before the team is sent onto the field, the team members together with the coach plan their strategy for the game. Some of the ordinary strategies are the following: How many strikers shall be in the front; who will take the free kicks, penalty shots and corner kicks? How to mark and check the best players of the opponent?
As we make the strategies for different situations it is important for every player not to miss the focus even for a second. Every player should be conscious of scoring goals and keep this focus of the game before him. It happens very often that a good team dominates the game throughout the match and yet fails to score any goal. Their ‘good game’ was of no use. On the other hand, a team which did not dominate the game may win because they were conscious of the focus and hitting the target to win the game.
Often the big organizations and communities fail in their mission of bearing lasting fruits despite having enough resources. The major reason for such failure is lack of strategy and focus to hit the target. Hence it is not enough to have good individual players with speed and stamina. They should be accompanied by focus to hit the target. When the players are not trained well many of them hit the ball far and wide. Striking the ball is not enough. It should hit the target, i.e. into the goal to score and win.
Many members of the community /team work very hard with sincerity. Yet, if they are not aware of the strategy of the group to work as a unit, they may not be able to produce any result. Every member of the community should personalize the vision of the community/ team by putting their heart and soul to realize the community mission, win the match.
4. Uncompromising discipline on and off the field
In the midst of speed and intense desire to score a goal, players could become aggressive and passionate. Every player is trained to keep the rules and discipline of the game. The referee is given a free hand to ensure discipline and order in the field. Free kicks, yellow and red cards are his tools to keep law and order even in a fiercely fought match. The referee is the ultimate authority in the game. His decisions are final and unquestionable when the game is in progress. He has the power to send any player out of the field for indiscipline and misbehaviour in the course of a game. The referee has the power to take action even against the coach. There were instances when the referee had punished the coach.
Indiscipline is the major reason for the deteriorating quality of life and work in organizations. Even the religious communities and institutions are plagued by indiscipline because of the failure of leaders to act promptly. They fail to call a spade a spade. There is no will to use the laws to ensure discipline and order in the groups. Institutions and groups lack impartial and just leaders to ensure implementation of their laws by all members. Members are losing respect and fear of people in authority. Those in authority, on the other hand, make compromises and only disgrace and discredit themselves.
5. Support of the fans:
Fan support from the gallery and outside the stadium play a vital role in the success of the team. The support of the fans recharges the energy of each player and the team as a whole. Fan support increases the confidence of each player. Singing, beating of drums, screaming, shouting and clapping help the players to keep up their stamina and speed.
Goodwill of the public is the fan support of the organization. Hence, creating good public opinion and developing public relations are equally important as any other work in the organization. Often the organizations neglect to develop public relations and goodwill. As a consequence, the organization suffers from misunderstanding and negative publicity. Even neighbours do not take the risk of supporting institutions when they are in crisis.
6. Role of the coach:
The role of the coach is very important for the success of the team. Even if a team has many talented players if it does not have a strong coach the team may fail. The role of a coach is to identify the strength and weakness of each player and make use of them for the success of the team. The coach not only gives physical and technical training, he has to deal with emotional and mental aspects of the team members. He fills the team with positive self-image and confidence to win the game. He provides the strategy to the team regarding the attack and defence. While the team is fighting the battle in the field the coach is alert and attentive of each player just outside the court. He judges the speed, stamina and performance of each player and decides the substitution of the players. He takes crucial decisions while the game is in progress. He motivates the players on and off the field. An experienced and expert coach is very expensive, yet much needed for the success of the team.
7. Regular training:
Regular training as a team is very essential to develop the speed, stamina and skill of the players. It is during these training sessions that the unity of the team members is developed. They are given special training to overcome physical, psychological and emotional stress and anxieties. It is during these training sessions the members of the team develop relationship and learn to play as a team.
Many organizations and communities have talented members. Yet, many of their talents and resources are underutilized. There are no regular training programs for the members. Neither is there any system to identify the talents of young members and place them in an atmosphere where they blossom into fullness. The leaders of these institutions do not have the capacity to motivate and train the members nor do they allow them to explore ways of developing their human resources. Merely with the routine seminars, retreats and pious activities the capacity building of the members will not be realized. Professional training and exposure are important to develop the human resources of the members.
8. Physical, mental and spiritual fitness of the players!
A football match raises the passion of the players and fans. It is a battleground to establish the supremacy. The speed and stamina take away much of our energy. In the emotionally charged situation there is all possibility of players losing their cool and reacting. Many talented players have lost control over their emotions during the game and have had to pay the price by accepting punishment from the referee. Hence, team members are given special sessions regarding stress management.
However players lack spiritual orientation. Though they are controlled by the strict rules and regulations on the field and are focused to hit the target, off the field many fail in their personal life. Though their competence in the game is developed, their character is not. Many of these players earn plenty of money and become rich. News about players getting into sex scandals, drugs and even committing suicide due to depression are examples of developing competence without character. They do not develop sensitivity for the marginalized. They fail to use their status, popularity and money to support social causes and defend human rights.
In the ordinary routine, communities and institutions pay very little attention to the holistic fitness of the members. Many of them suffer from psychological and emotional immaturity. Through their impulsive reactions they bring a bad name to the organization. Physical fitness is neglected in many religious communities. Gradually members suffer from all kinds of illness and disabilities which incapacitate them in doing their mission.
The Hindi film ‘ Dhan Dhandahan Goal” is the story of converting a disintegrated football team to a winning team overcoming all kinds of obstacles. Before the team goes to play their final in an adverse situation what the coach speaks to the team members is inspiring to all. He says, “In life a person gets only two or three opportunities. The success depends on how he uses these opportunities in the best way possible”. He applies this to football match, “football is a game of ninety minutes. In these ninety minutes no player gets the ball more than three to four minutes. Even the greatest players do not get the ball with them for more than three or four minutes. The success depends on how they use the ball”.
Make time to watch the matches which will be very useful for spiritual renewal. Analyse the performance in the light of these reflections. With best wishes for a wonderful football season!(Published on 25th June 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 26)