I want to talk about football. And for clarity, that word refers to “the beautiful game”. The game played with feet and minimal body protection. The game with a round ball. And if you are struggling with that concept – let me help:
Football: the beautiful game! (click the link)
Sunday is the day for playing football. The young children play mid-morning, the older ones later in the afternoon. And as I walked our dog yesterday I bumped into the young children playing football.
And noticed something odd.
The local team were getting into trouble quite frequently. Because when the visitors “pumped through a long ball” towards the local team’s goal – little boots at the end of little legs would slash in vain to “clear the ball”. And (on at least one occasion) ended up distracting “their goalie” to the point where the ball needlessly ended up “in the back of the net”. A needless “own goal”.
I was curious because the goalie (who can see what is behind each of his team mates – who can see if the visiting team has anyone waiting to pounce on aforementioned ”through ball”) was entirely silent throughout.
Where were his vocal cords? Why was he so quiet? Why no interaction with his own team? Why not “work together” vocally – because I then noticed none of the team were calling to each other, yelling for the ball, doing all the things that left with me a sore throat when I was a child their age playing football (I had a reputation: Who’s that yelling his head off? Oh, that’s Paul – that’s how he plays!).
And then I noticed a quiet voice, constantly talking. The coach/manager was standing on the side of the pitch. The side away from the handful of noisy watching parents. The half in which his goalie stood. And the coach talked constantly: do this, stand there, close up on him, move forwards, move backwards. And focusing on this voice – a quiet voice – did not allow his players to speak.
His players had been trained to listen to him and not speak to each other.
So when a long ball came through – irrespective of whether it was a “dangerous ball” or not … whether it could be left for the goalie to safely collect or not … each player from front to back saw it as a danger and wildly slashed at it trying to “clear it” upfield … and in the process – at least once – actually caused themselves an “own goal”.
Seemed to me as I watched more closely, that the coach had chosen to see his own team’s goal area as “weakness” – the area he had to watch and protect. And in the process had achieved three things:
- His whole team were taught to play by remote control.
- His whole team played without much passion or energy.
- His team was dysfunctional.
That was in stark contrast to the “other team”.
The other team were loud, and passionate, and winning! Individually they had “something about them”. Was it just because they “talked to each other” that they were winning?
(and this is acceptable football terminology)
They had a “fat kid” on their team. The one who usually gets to play in goal (if at all) in most teams. Except this child was playing in the middle of the pitch. And he “stroked the ball” with skill, he passed the ball with a natural “football brain”. He linked players by passing the ball to where they would be, not where they had been. And from the compliments I heard – he was known and loved!
This “fat kid” epitomised the difference in the “beautiful game” for me: two coaches – two ways of playing – but the same game being played (differently).
I know which team I would choose.