What We Can Learn From Football

Anyone who’s met me in recent years probably wouldn’t consider me a football supporter. For a start I don’t have a particular local team I support, but I have always considered myself an England supporter.

I played football as a kid (until my sexist secondary school prevented me from continuing in 1990) and I picked it up later at Uni too playing for the B team. We never won a match but I loved it.

I remember the Euros in 1996, watching in University bars and student pubs. And I always remember how bad I felt for Gareth Southgate when he missed his penalty. Watching Gareth Southgate’s rise as England manager has been a great joy to see.

This morning the nation has woken up full of disappointment. But in my usual contradictory style, I can see nothing but reason to celebrate.

For the first time in my life I got to watch England play in a final. For the first time in my life I felt proud of our team for being positive role models off the pitch, not just on it. For the first time in my life I saw the England team play with confidence and positivity, and shake off the negative expectation the country has placed on them for years.

They kept going, even when others didn’t believe in them. They believed in themselves when others were doubtful. They kept their heads up and played with pride even when luck turned against them.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think they’d been talking to a sports psychologist 😉.

Yes I know it’s just a game, I know it’s just football. But it’s also a brilliant metaphor for life.

Whether you look at the team or the manager, both have worked hard on what truly matters to them, and believed in themselves enough to reach for their dreams. It’s not plain sailing. Life, and football, has ups and downs. But it’s how we carry ourselves through the bad times, not just the good, that determines our eventual success.

And that’s the other reason I feel positive this morning. Because yes, this team is disappointed this morning, but this team knows how to handle disappointment. This WAS NOT their once in a lifetime opportunity. More opportunities are coming. In fact the World Cup is coming next year!

And more opportunities are coming for you too. Wherever you are in life, whatever disappointments you’ve faced. We all have a new opportunity to begin building from today.

Look disappointment straight in the eye and say “No, I’m not giving up today. I’m choosing to move forward. I believe in myself.”