Lessons from FIFA

Some of us watched the re­cently con­cluded FIFA World cup dur­ing un­godly hours with dreary eyes. Some of you might have wondered on the defin­i­tion this kind of fun – a bunch of guys run af­ter one ball where­as every­one could have been given one each. 

Whichever camp you be­long to, there is a lot one can learn from these past 4 weeks of soc­cer ac­tion:

Philipp Lahm

Phillipp Lahm, the German cap­tain sum­mar­ized the vic­tory rather well with a one lin­er para­phrased here “oth­ers have mar­quee play­ers, we have a team.” If you pon­der over this line from him, it is evid­ent that des­pite huge dif­fer­ences in in­di­vidu­al abil­it­ies, each mem­ber of the team has a role to play. If you build your strategy too much around 1 play­er, you still may not get close to your goal (well, pun in­ten­ded). If you do not be­lieve this, ask Argentina, Portugal, Brazil and so on… (Teams need to identi­fy and strengthen on the col­lect­ive team’s cap­ab­il­it­ies.) 

Brazil team

You can be in love with what you do, but not to a point of ex­clu­sion of some real­it­ies. Passion is a key in­gredi­ent, but too much of this could break your back. Ask Brazil, it will be a while be­fore they can keep their back straight, sadly, too lit­er­ally for their main play­er. It is OK to build a sta­di­um by spend­ing your tax payer’s money hop­ing that your team will play there (and be­come cham­pi­ons), but not without giv­ing al­low­ance for un­desir­able out­comes. Run with pas­sion, but hold on to a grain of truth to guide you. (Keep our head bal­anced and eyes straight on tasks, but do make al­low­ance for real­it­ies too) 

USA Portugal goal

It is not over, till it is over. USA was all ready for an up­set of Portugal, but for a goal from Portugal in the 91st minute (yes, in the dy­ing seconds of the game). USA sup­port­ers may have star­ted to rev­el on the spoils of this vic­tory, when they were shut out with this goal. (No work is com­pete till all pos­sible ex­pos­ures are plugged) 

Costa Rica team

Size or skill may not mat­ter much without self be­lief. Minnows of Group D (Costa Rica) topped their group. They also ex­tin­guished the Greek flame and al­most send Netherlands pack­ing. Their dis­play of soc­cer was not just repu­ta­tion in mo­tion, but am­bi­tion and skill on a bed rock of cour­age. You can be God in your chosen pro­fes­sion, but without cour­age you can­not seize the day. See England, Uruguay and Italy – they were out of sorts with Costa Rica – a na­tion who does not even have an army! (Courage the vir­tue on which all oth­er vir­tues are moun­ted)

Germany goal

Finally, know­ing data helps. Germans stud­ied them­selves and the com­pet­i­tion closely – they im­proved their ball hand­ling time from 3.4 secs to 1.1 secs. Imagine the power of this, each mem­ber of the team knows that they need to speed up. Everyone speeds up a bit, the en­tire team speeds up hugely. (A small act of ef­fi­ciency by each team mem­ber goes a long way for the team).

We could go on with more ex­amples. Key point be­ing it was not just a soc­cer tour­na­ment, but an epi­tome of strategy and ex­e­cu­tion. Lot can be learnt from this.

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