Written by: Yom Vedeja
One afternoon, as Euro 2012 was about to begin, someone asked me, ‘Why won’t you try football? We have scrimmages every Saturday at CSA.’
Invitation accepted. I have long fancied playing football due to Zidane and the Brazilian trio of Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho. There’s no harm in trying even just once.
That same weekend, I went to the mall to buy my first-ever pair of cleats (football shoes). Choosing a brand and a design was overwhelming, it took me hours to select. Minutes before mall closing, a voice taunted me. What if football turns out to be something you won’t like? Don’t you think buying that pair is a waste of money? Are you ready to get scrutinized by better-skilled players? How will you fit in given your non-existent football skills?
Three years later, that David Beckham pair was indeed a useless expense. I’ve developed preference over Mercurial or F10/F30 pairs, anyway.
Admittedly, I’m not the best lad to talk about football. It’s not the sport I’ve grown up with. I have no experience as part of the varsity team. But that’s not to say I never learnt anything from those sweaty weekends.
1. Appreciate small wins and take charge of learning.
The earliest days of any endeavor can be an uphill journey. That’s especially true as an adult learning a new sport. At first, I thought it was all about power. Who cares about technique and game strategy? I simply need to kick the ball, period.
Some of my teammates noticed that habit and advised me to practice passing. On my first year, it was a hit-or-miss. My passes ranged from quite well to extremely off-target, which was frustrating. However, I recalibrated expectations.
Slow progress still means learning. Incremental changes are worth celebrating.
I continued improving through the HP Football Clinic in 2013 and Football Manila’s eight-week coaching programme in the same year, where I met fellow beginners willing to level up their game.
Small wins are things I still cherish even after years of playing. Those good passes, critical defensive stops, and even that single goal. Some people noticed improvements over the years. That doesn’t mean being error-free (in fact ,I still commit loads), but these little things motivate me to continue playing and replicate success day by day.
2. Passion is a great springboard to facilitate learning.
Believe me, football can be both annoying and emotionally crippling. Some people just push too hard to win the ball and play selfishly. There were times I felt incompetent when teammates give feedback or even when I see them play. Disappointing football nights are here to stay. And that’s when the other inner voice pounces on that temporary weakness.
When that happens, I always snap back to the reason for buying my David Beckham pair: to play the beautiful game, my dream sport. Then, I start to care less about competition and comparison, and more on enjoying each stride. Feedback from trainers and playmates are welcomed, further pushing me to learn. I feel motivated to play regularly and watch football matches. While three years have been enough to dribble and take shots decently (YES!), I still look forward to improve in the coming years.
Passion for football also provided the roadmap for pursuing other passions. Without football, I might have not felt how it feels to be passionate once again.
3. Life is a match.
Winning remains essential both in football and in life. It affirms our strengths and our ability to apply learnings. Losing, on the other hand, is healthy given the right attitude. Do we succumb to the notion of failing now, or do we reframe our mindset on achieving our goals in the near future?
My championship with Team Brasil during the HP Philippines Internal Cup 2014 remains to be the most significant trophy under my belt. I regard it as a culmination of the first two years I’ve spent playing football filled with hair-line victories and heart-breaking defeats. It arrived at the rightest time, when I can truly speak of actual contribution to the results. Our team also had chemistry and desired the same taste of victory. Even until now, that moment was surreal.
At the end of the day, everyone wins in football regardless of match results. Players gain experience in a more competitive setting, strengthen bonds with fellow teammates, and learn to play the beautiful game in the best way possible. Who doesn’t benefit from friendships out of water and Gatorade bottles? 🙂
Football indeed impacts my life in an unimaginable extent, and I can summarise this with a quote from today’s living legend and Real Madrid’s star, Cristiano Ronaldo.
‘I am living a dream I never want to wake up from.’
Neither do I, meus amigos.