It's Saturday night.
I'm on my porch writing this blog post.
We've just finished day one of a two day tournament in the Buffalo, NY area. The weather was perfect, the competition stiff, and the company fantastic. For a "soccer head" like myself, it was the perfect way to spend a Saturday in the summer. And the fact that two of my three kids were playing in it was a fun bonus.
I've been either watching, playing or coaching soccer since I was about 10 years old. That means I am over the 30 year mark of experiencing the world's most popular game. And every time I slow down, sit down, and pause...I realize more and more about what this beautiful game brings to life.
See...it's not just about the sport itself.
I've been on the winning side, the losing side, and the draws in between them. I've smiled, cried, laughed, and been puzzled more times than I can count.
The game is fun.
The game is beautiful.
The game is expressive, creative, and artistic.
But the best part isn't the ball in the back of the net, it's the people in and around it.
Here's my take on what soccer does to you, in you, and through you. And anyone who's experienced it, can completely attest to it.
Now, for all of you who "can't stand soccer", think it's boring, and think ties are crazy-train...stay with me. You might just change your mind when you hear why we love it so much.
5 things soccer has taught me about life...
1. How to leverage anticipation: When you can see what's coming before it happens, you respond differently before it arrives. It's the same with life. When you know how you will respond in a conversation, situation, or circumstance before it happens...you bring more value to the moment when it arrives. You'll do that in every relationship you have the honor of being a part of. Whether it's family, friends, or even a complete stranger. The empathy, sympathy, and honor you lead with, becomes an example to live by. Anticipation is the breeding ground for progress. On the field, and off. In a game, and in life.
2. Confidence isn't something you have, it's who you are: I shared this thought with my team in the practices leading up to this tournament. It came to me while I was high on a ladder with a paintbrush earlier in the week, as I was thinking about the soccer tournament ahead of us. I knew my kids needed to hear it. See, here's the thing. We have success because we are confident...not the other way around. And it's not a confidence in our ability to always be right...it's in knowing exactly who we are. And if at any moment...again...on the field or off...that isn't enough to win the game, get the promotion, seal the deal? It doesn't mean we lacked confidence. What it does mean, is that it's ok to see it as a learning experience. It doesn't change the fact that we are created with confidence. It reminds us it's our job to take hold of it, own it, express it, and live a life thankful for it.
3. A loss might shake us, but it doesn't need to break us: For this weekend, so far so good. No losses on the first day. But, again...I've been in many situations where that is how the season or tournament ended. It stings momentarily, but shouldn't reside on the inside of us permanently. I like to think of it this way...failure isn't failing, it's failing to learn from it. We are going to fall down in life. But it doesn't mean we need to fall apart. Getting back up, getting after it, and trying again has a reward, too. It's found in the relational equity built when you are raising up those you care the most about during a time of loss. Shaken, yes. Broken, no. Stronger for having gone through it together...absolutely.
4. Accountability helps us reach maturity: Soccer has the most continual moving parts of any sport I know. If you've got one to rival it, I'm all ears. But I think soccer holds the record. 11 players moving continuously, towards a common goal...amidst distraction, intense pressure, and exhaustion. All of this happens while maintaining a clear focus on the tactical plan laid out ahead of time. (yes, that's a thing. no, we don't just chase a ball around a big field) Patience, diligence, commitment, awareness, and communication all happens simultaneously...IN HOPES...that we will arrive at the planned destination (a win) intentionally. And when all of that happens it's because we've all held one another accountable. Not yelling at, but pouring encouragement into. Being honest when the effort isn't our best, but doing it with a pat on the back, not finger in a face. It's not calling out, it's moving forward. To where we are going, based on who we are. Life is like that. The companies, organizations, ministries, families, schools, etc...that get that? Those are the ones with the silly grins on their face, because they know the best part of their life is found in the safety of accountability. Challenging one another to be their best, and filling in the gaps by having each other's backs along the way. Maturity is something that is full. It's realized. It's joy. We get there when we start here...holding one another accountable.
5. Any place. Any day. Any amount of time: We have this motto on our team. It's that any player will play any position on the field, on any given day, for any amount of time. It's setting aside personal preference to buy into our vision as a team. We can't win a game played with 11 players, one player at a time. It's 11 on the pitch, and 7 supporting on the bench...working together, over time. Ahead of time in practice. When it's time on game day. An office, school, church, family...you name it. It works the same way. Think about anyone on your team adopting our motto. No more "it's not in my job description". There are no descriptions applicable to an individual that preclude them from sacrificing their wants for the team's needs.
As I go to sleep tonight, I have no idea how tomorrow will turn out.
I know how I...we...want it to.
We want to win.
We want a championship.
But this is what I do know tonight, about tomorrow...
If we manage to win the tournament championship, it will be because of the value we've placed on relationships.
As a team.
As a family.
Those are my thoughts tonight.
Those are reflections from a soccer coach.
My hope is that in some small way, it's been an encouragement to you. And yes...that you might see soccer as more than a ball, a field, and a bunch of people wandering aimlessly.
It's the exact opposite.
It's the outward expression of relational intentionality.
In how we leverage anticipation.
In how we see confidence.
In how we process loss.
In how we are accountable to one another.
In how we'll do it all...
Any amount of time.
Those are roots worth putting down, and growing from.
And maybe...just maybe...it's a repeatable process that's way bigger than a win, loss, or draw. Maybe it's the model our world needs too.
To anticipate how to love one another, freely. (#LoveWins)
To walk confidently with one another, sincerely.
To grieve with one another, genuinely.
To hold one another together, unconditionally.
To live as one.
Any amount of time.
That's a reflection worth more than a quick look.
That's a reflection worth living.
Live the former, serving the latter.
Because...that's always a win.
Any amount of time.
One relationship at a time.
THEY DID IT!
Meet the 2016 GU15
Clarence Classic CHAMPIONS!!!
From the desk of our founder, Brett W. Gould.