Soccer – The Metaphor of Life

Introduction: As the FIFA 2010 has kicked off on June 11, 2010 at South Africa, there is a great feeling of euphoria and excitement all over the world about the games that encompasses the planet earth through media, news channels, news papers and Television sets. We all love football and in India too there is a great fervor among the populace to watch the game even though Indian football team has never qualified for the biggest football event of the World. We all adore our heroes, the demi-gods like Pele, Maradona, Beckham, Ronaldo, Kaka, Wayne Rooney and many others. Looking closely at the game and how the players are positioned, their role on the football stadium and the way the game proceeds, one cannot help but find a great metaphor of Life in it. That’s what this article is all about. It is a humble dedication and salutation to the greatest and most popular games of the world.

The Field: Soccer game is played on a field of 90 to 120 meters length and 45 to 90 meters of width. On both sides we see the goal posts. Your team which includes 11 players will be aiming to score a goal in the opposite goal post. The opposite team would be trying to defend that and rather counter attacking your goal post to score a goal. In life to you have to have goals. Your aim is to score goals. You cannot sit passively and watch while the outside circumstances counter attack you and make one goal after the other pushing you on the back foot. You got to be proactive. You got defend sometimes but also attack. You got to know where you have to reach, where you have to score a goal. Your goals are like the lighthouse for the ship which helps them to steer on the right path. Remember we are all placed on the soccer field by the Lord Almighty. We all are players on the field, we have to play our part, and we have to be proactive and know our aims and do everything to reach our goals. Then our life becomes exciting, and then we find meaning to this life. So that’s the first metaphorical lesson we glean from the soccer game. We are all players on the field of life and we have to score goals. We have to be proactive about our goals.

Positions: As the soccer games kicks off, the 11 players of a team are positioned on the field according to the various roles they play. We can learn a lot of things from the different positions they take and the various roles they play on the soccer field.

Goalie: Near the goal post is placed the goalie, who plays one of the most important role in a soccer game. He is there to defend the goals that opponent team hits in the net. Usually he has developed the special ability, alacrity and alertness to prevent the opposite team from hitting a goal in the net. He is like the compound wall around our houses that prevents trespassers. In life we have to play the role of a goalie when it comes to guarding ourselves from being hit by negative thoughts. Our minds are like the goal post. The outer circumstances, people and events can try to impregnate our minds with negative thoughts. We should play the role of a Goalie at such times and see that our minds are not invaded by the thoughts that can pull us down and demoralize us. What happens to a team whose Goalie is not able to defend the goals being put in the net. The team is weakened and its focus from scoring goals is switched to defending goals. It is demoralized and is rapidly moving toward defeat. That’s exactly the picture of a person who does defend himself or herself from negative thoughts. He or she will be weakened and will divert from his or her goals of pursuing excellence and succumb to defeat in life. So playing the role of a goalie in life is very important, we should know to defend ourselves from negative thoughts.

Back positioned Players: In the game of Soccer, the Goalie is not the only one who defends the goals. There are some players positioned at the back like the Centre Fullback, Left-Right Fullback and the Wingback who also help in defending and marking and attacking the Forward players from the opposite team. The roles that these players positioned at the back play, is the role that reminds us that in life many times it is important to be on the back foot and whenever the tide is against us we should be able to keep our calm. We should not be surprised that many times there are people, circumstances and events that will seem to pressurize us and put us behind. When you venture out in the sea in a ship, you are bound to encounter storms. That’s life! «Ships in the harbor are safe; but that’s not what Ships are meant for.» says William Shedd. Ships are supposed to go out and venture into the deep sea and fight it out against the storms that come against it. Many times we have to be players at the back, defending ourselves, our principles, our values, our faith, and our lives from being pushed behind, from getting bogged down. Many times there are people or circumstances that can force us to quit. Many students encounter failures, so do many professionals and businesspeople at such times we are tempted to give up but here the role of the players positioned at the back comes forth. We have to mark what is that is troubling us, go to the source of the trouble and defend ourselves. Many times we may have to defend ourselves from the wrong company who pulls us down, wrong habits that corrode our lives and wrong actions that reap the harvest of bad fruits. The Bible says, «When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will raise up a standard against him.» That standard is the players who play the game of Soccer positioned at the back.

Midfielders: Now there are players also positioned at the Middle of the football pitch. Some of them are the Left and Right Midfielders, Defensive Midfielders and the Central Midfielder. These players have the duty of game-making. They sometimes defend as well as make the game and then pass it out to players positioned forward. In our lives also there is a time when we have to sit and make out a strategy so that it becomes convenient for us to reach and achieve our goals. At such times we have to be the game makers, the Midfielders. There is a lot of scope in our lives to sit and plan and organize our lives. We have to resort to things like Time Management Planning, Goal Setting and writing the mission of our lives. Many times we have to prepare ourselves by learning different skills and techniques so that it is convenient for us to move ahead to reach our goals. At such times we are playing the roles of the game-makers, we are playing the role of Midfielders. Midfielders play an important role on the field for their team, without them the players that play forward who have to score goals against the opposition would be rendered helpless. They won’t have anything at their disposal to go ahead and shoot or score.

Players positioned as Forwards: Finally let us look at the players who are positioned forward on the soccer field. When the Goalie defends goals for the team, the players positioned behind defend from attackers and the midfielders make the game, the Forwards carry the ball into the opposition’s net. The players who are positioned forward are Deep Lying Forward, Centre Forward and the Winger. The main role of these players is to strike. They are always on the attacking mode. Once they have the ball in their possession, they seek to put it across the Goalie of the opposition team into the net. When we also defend our lives from negative attitude and thinking, when we defend ourselves from wrong practices, principles and people, when we prepare ourselves for the opportunities that lie before us then there will come a time where our goals, our aims would be as clear as the Football goalpost and we would be in the position to hit and score. So in life we would see opportunities before us lying wide awake that would help us to hit at our goals. It is possible that you would miss many hits, you may hit and miss by a mile but you got to keep hitting back till you put the ball across the Goalie into the net. In life we encounter failures, many times we miss read opportunities, many times we commit errors but we got to get up, dust ourselves and hit again. A Japanese Proverb says, «Fall down seven times; get up eight.» Scoring a goal into the net comes through immense practice and patience and we should also inculcate these two qualities when we want to reach our aims and goals in life. So it is important role that the strikers positioned forward play, for they give finishing touch to the game.

Conclusion: Friends, in the end I would like to encourage all of you to go ahead and enjoy the FIFA 2010. But I would also encourage you to look at the philosophical side of the game, the metaphor that the game of Soccer presents. May it excite and enthuse you with courage, confidence and capacity to enjoy, explore and elevate your life to the next level. May you hit and reach your goals in life, may you emerge winners and even when you feel that you have lost remember there’s always next time. The next FIFA in 2014 at Brazil.

Joy be all yours.


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