For the last couple of articles we have looked at the common thread between soccer and life, and worked from the Albert Camus quote, which roughly paraphrased was “All I learned from life, I learned from the football team I… Read More ›
Month: August 2017
I became a Stevenage FC supporter on January 4th 1997 for no other reason than I went to see Stevenage play Birmingham in the FA Cup and met some people who accepted me. At the time life was a little shaky and I was encountering a lot of opposition from people I had trusted and respected who in turn betrayed me. I found acceptance in this rowdy bunch of Boro fans. They had no idea who I was, what my history was, where I was from, or anything else. They accepted me unconditionally. I was hooked, and 20 years and a move half way around the world, I am still Boro for life.
In a wider view of society, the “Them vs. Us” mentality is why we have extremists. They keep the outside out, and the inside protected. They fight harder for something that offers identity and certainty. In the wider world, it forces people into a division. It does the same in sport, with managers like Ferguson and Westley having very few people on the fence about them. In sport it is an amazing culture to build, and in possibly the only way I would dare disagree with Brian Clough (even in death he scares me), I believe it takes a very tough skin to be effective. It takes teams like Stevenage F.C. from being almost relegated from the Conference in 2004 to being in League One seven years later.
I have met many people who struggle to adapt when a challenge comes their way. They are typically amazing planners, very detail oriented, and have every step of their life planned. However, they often struggle when life happens, a new obstacle is added, or something outside of their control stops their plan from happening the way they envision it. Rather than seeing a detour and the new possibilities it can bring, they see a road block and become mentally and emotionally paralysed.
The true measure of a youth coach is not in how many trophies ‘they’ have won, or whether ‘they’ won their last game. The true measure of a youth coach won’t be seen for many years, but it will be seen when the player gets into high school or university. It will be seen when the player is no longer reliant on being the biggest, fastest, or strongest (which tend to equalise over the years) but in how well the player is able to read a game and make the game-changing decisions. It is seen when a player is able to be gracious in both victory and defeat. It is seen when a player supports a team mate who scored an own goal, or made a potentially confidence destroying mistake.
I started this blog with the intent of talking about performance and social identity, especially as it relates to Tourette’s Syndrome. Instead I have found myself bouncing around from mental illness to youth sport and from suicide to hope. Last week I questioned my intent and asked myself some questions about what it is I want to achieve here, as recently I have found that a lot has been about hope. I started to think about this as typically I start out each article thinking about the direction my writing will go and often find myself veering off as my thoughts take a new direction. Now, after some reflection, finally I think I have the answer. No matter what happens in life, hopelessness will destroy it. While this is true across humanity, the most instantly observable environment is sport.
There are two aspects to hope that I am going to talk about in this article and both will demonstrate just how important hope is in any endeavour, including survival. Maybe even especially survival. One aspect is self-reliance, and the other is being reliant on others. Both are equally important in hope. First though, we have to get through a little bit of dark research from the 1950s.