Dr. Louis Brown Ogbeifun

Accredited Mediator | Certified Professional Manager and Trainer in Workplace Conflicts


Lessons from the Pitch: Reflections on Football and Life’s Uncertainties

The round leather game popularly called football or soccer is so many things to many people. Football Clubs aim to win laurels, remain on top of their league tables, and win all tournaments available for grabs if possible. Football underbellies and maneuverings are often worse than plots in partisan politics. Many club managers target and poach playmakers from opposing camps to deplete their ranks. Some buy the big names to cause a vacuum in the opponent’s team and in the end, bench the player. When clubs realize they are losing their best players to other clubs, they activate high price tags to tie down the player.

Usually, two sets of supporters watch a football game involving two teams. A group of supporters backing the two teams on the field of play embarks on praising, singing, clapping, and yelling to motivate their teams. In the end, three outcomes confront the teams, the players, the officials, and the supporters. which are a loss, a draw, or a win. That means one of the supporters would go home happy while the other would go home disappointed. That in itself occurs in every life situation. When life confronts us with delicate choices, hardly is there any chance for a draw. It is a win or a loss.

Many watch football games to unwind. Some watch the game to learn lessons about teams – cohesion, team play, team spirit, individual mastery, assists and support, etc. I watch football for the lessons I can learn from each game and the excitement it generates.

Besides the excitement that football generates, some also strive to make money by engaging in mind games to predict winners and losers for a price. Some call it “betting”, while others call it a “lottery.” Betting has winners are losers. Betting and lotteries using football have made football week-in-week-out a trillion-dollar industry. due to the mouth-watering offers, match-fixing becomes rampant, and the umpires who should make the game clean get compromised because of stomach infrastructure and conspiracies. Many match officials and players have been axed for match-fixing.

The game between Bournemouth and Liverpool today would have disappointed millions of fans and the betting audience. I am sure some would cry foul or sabotage. Undoubtedly, those who would go home smiling to the banks would be fewer than those who lost their bets and could sulk for a long time. It would be challenging to bring to reality or understand how a team that defeated Manchester United 7-0 Sunday, 5, 2023, would lose 1-0 to the same Bournemouth it defeated 9-0 on August 27, 2022. But that is football.

The lessons I learned from today’s Bournemouth win over the Liverpool team are:

1. Failure comes with reproaches and mockeries. People will laugh at you. You have no control over them. But you have control over how you react to them by quickly shaking off the laughter and mockeries.

2. Cry if you can, but do not go on the long and convoluted route of unhappiness and brooding, which could veil your sense of seeing opportunities in what happened, which could delay your quick recovery.

3. When you face a loss, defeat, or failure, try to introspect and harvest the reasons that might have contributed to the loss, put up strategies to plug the loopholes, and plan to avoid the pitfalls in the future.

4. Never allow your defeat, loss, or failure of yesterday to define your today’s endeavors.

5. Never be intimidated by a Goliath’s threat or because of your opponent’s past victories; you never can tell when God will make a David.

6. Take every task seriously and at its own pace. Two tasks may be the same, but the pathway to the shore of success may differ.

7. The past is gone with the previous pathfinders you used. Plot your paths with newly calibrated barometers to fit your new tasks.

8. Do not let the fear of a perceived mountainous barrier kill you before you reach the starting block. The fear of the unknown kills faster than any diagnosed ailment.

9. Set eyes on the price and amass the resources that would make you perform your new tasks better.

10. Know that there is a reward for every hard work. So, set out early.

11. Let nobody tell you it is impossible. Impossibility is relative to what only God has control over.

12. The best players are human and could also have a bad day and lose a penalty as Mo Salah did.

13. In a game with equal players, anything is possible. Therefore, treat the other team with respect.

14. Never underrate your opponent. Doing so is at your peril. I am sure Liverpool couldn’t have believed it if an oracle had predicted a loss to Bournemouth today.

15. Every team or player has an off day, like Manchester United on Sunday.

As I empathize with my Liverpool friends, let all of us note that, as in life and with football, no task is a pushover until the final whistle sounds and we overcome.

Grace and peace!!!