Lessons from the World Cup
For the past week, we have been posting thoughts from our alumni on what the World Cup means to them, how it illustrates our core values and the leadership lessons soccer has taught them. As the World Cup begins today, we asked VCU men’s soccer coach and CSL adjunct professor Dave Giffard to convey his feelings on this global event and sport.
To me, the World Cup is an opportunity every four years for the average sports fan
in our country to get a taste of the passion, the culture and the hopes and dreams I associate with the beautiful game. For one month, my friends, neighbors, and colleagues take a peak into the world that billions around the world live in every day.
It’s a month long period where everyone becomes an expert on off sides, the talking heads talk about roster decisions, and our game is once again relevant in our fickle American media.
Soccer is after all, the most democratic of games. You don’t have to be a 6’8″ 290 pound athletic freak to play. It’s not about your genes. It is about your preparation, your heart, your work to develop your skill. It is about the team. At a high level, it takes 11 players, all on the same page, coordinated, working with one goal in mind to not only score but to win. It’s not about the coach calling time outs and instructing players during a crucial moment in the match. It’s about players and teams solving problems on the field. The better team doesn’t always win. Weaker team’s can be structured in a way that they can make it very difficult for a stronger opponent to score and can score their one chance on a counter attack and steal the victory.
The games belong to the players, but these players aren’t that much different than the fans wearing their jerseys. They look the same, have similar backgrounds and are bonded by national pride. That connection is at the heart of the World Cup.
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