Tuesday, July 27, 2010

World Cup 2010 – Lessons

Are we ready to move forward?

More than two weeks have passed by after the World Cup 2010 finals in South Africa. We have already got used to being without the daily early morning matches that became part of out excitement during the one month long games. It may be pertinent for us to reflect on some of the lessons that the World Cup had to offer us, particularly in Malaysia.

Hundreds of young men from 32 countries fought very hard, some getting injured in the process, to win the prestigious FIFA Cup for their country but the one who stole the show was not any particular player but a non-human in the form of an octopus, named Paul from Germany. It gained the world’s attention, not for playing football, but for its ability to predict the winner in a number of matches with 100% success.

What was disturbing is that a tool of betting made headlines instead of the players themselves. In fact Paul became a great star overnight, superseding all the renowned players in the world. It is distressing to realize that the World Cup, which used to be just about doing the best for the nation, is now increasingly becoming more of a commercial undertaking.

It is extremely disturbing that betting is becoming more entrenched in sports as can be seen by the increasing number of allegations of match-fixing. Sadly the FIFA World Cup seems to be succumbing to such corruption which is taking away its glory as the greatest sport in the world.

Another major lesson from the last World Cup was the no-nonsense enforcement of the rules of the game by the referees. It was very encouraging that every referee on the field did his best to enforce the rules as strictly as possible, within his limitations, without fear or favor. Fouls committed were punished in accordance with the rules regardless of who commits them. Even prominent world class players were not spared the yellow or red cards when they committed a foul.

This is a good lesson for Malaysians who are generally do not take rules seriously especially when they are against them. We tend to bend the rules to suit us whenever possible and even go great lengths to justify our actions. We see nothing wrong in breaking the rules as long as nobody notices us doing so.

The general decline in standards in many areas can be ascribed to this lackadaisical attitude of Malaysians to the rules governing the various organizations they belong to. Strict compliance to established rules will promote a disciplined society that is vital for progress and development. Unless we adopt such an attitude of strict compliance to law and order we will never achieve our dream of a developed nation.

If we look at the nations that succeeded to go forward into the knock-out phase and subsequently to the semifinal and finals, we would realize that there were two major factors that contributed to their success. The first was patriotism to their country and the second was the technical sophistication of their training and execution of their plans as a team.

Patriotism is the pride for the country which one loves. Most of the players from the 32 countries had this patriotism that was shown by their eagerness to win at all costs. It was clearly shown in the faces of the players and their supporters each time they won or lost a game. It was seen in the determination of the players when they never gave up their fight until the final whistle. The large number of last minute goals bears testimony to this patriotic spirit of the players.

Small nations that were unseeded like Ghana and Uruguay progressed up to the quarter and semi-finals respectively because of such patriotic feelings. The US players never gave up until the final whistle despite trailing far behind on several occasions. Argentina did much better than expected because of the inspirations of the national coach and football icon, Diego Maradona. He might not have been a fantastic coach but he managed to inspire his players by taking them back to the memories of nation’s glorious past of 1986.

These countries may have succeeded to a certain extent but they would realize that patriotism can only take to a certain level. To become the champion they need something more than just patriotism. They need technical superiority as this was proved by the German, Dutch and Spanish teams. It was this added advantage that carried then to the semi-finals and finals. Like all sports football too has become a highly technical game and unless we master the latest sophisticated techniques in training and tactics, we stand little chance win the World Cup. It was disappointing that even former champions, France, Italy and Brazil seem to have lost that added skill at this World Cup.

We too have grand plans to qualify for future World Cup finals and we plan to set up a football academy to train our young men. This may be a good move but setting up an academy is one thing but the most important thing is to run it in a professional manner where the every citizen is given equal opportunities to contribute to the glory of his nation. How can you instill patriotism and excel in the sport when many of the best are not selected as players, coaches and management officials?

1 comment:

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