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 played for.” Today’s article will be no different, and today we’ll be looking at lifelong…
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.
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.