Philippine Daily Inquirer

Life lessons from the World Cup

- Cathy BabaoGubal­la

IT’S ALL ABOUT HEART.

In life, as in a soccer game, skill, precision and technique are of utmost importance. I do not argue that. However, more often than not, when push comes to shove, the one who wants it the most, the one with the most passion and courage, tempered by wisdom and experience, is the one who scores the goal and makes history.

I’ve seen this countless times, in a championsh­ip game of basketball, soccer, okay, boxing, too. I’ve seen this in the lives of many close friends, read about the triumphs of ordinary people against seemingly adverse circumstan­ces. I’ve witnessed it in the eyes of cancer survivors and their loved ones.

In the semifinal match between Germany and Spain early Wednesday morning, the Spaniard’s passion and poetry (the fluidity by which they played their game) clearly trumped the Germans’ precision. Perhaps also because Spain was the older team (not an ace when you think about it simply on the physical level) so experience played a critical part in outwitting the stronger yet younger team.

Similarly, in the game of life, in navigating one’s personal journey and relationsh­ips—passion, wisdom, skill and perseveran­ce all come to play.

Germany was the favored team because they had quite the awesome record while Spain’swas, well, secondrate compared to Germany’s. Statistica­lly, Germany had scored way more goals than Spain, but Spain has, on record, the greatest number of passes in this tournament. The Daily Mail reports, “The statistics back up the theory that Spain uses the ball more carefully as Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Alonso have each made more passes than any other player in the tournament, a combined amount of 1,494.

“They call it tiki-taka in Barcelona, the short, sharp, one or two-touch passes which has brought Spain and

Losing a game

means to travel to the US tomorrow if only they could get their hands on a visa.”

If the US were to get just six percent of that total, Dow added, that would translate to 30 million travelers—more than the number of people coming from the rest of the world to the US every year.

Promotion is only part of the solution. Equally important is entry process both for tourists with visas and those coming from the 36 countries covered by the US Visa Waiver Program.

“For those where we don’t have the ability to do VisaWaiver, we are trying to test and implement secure videoconfe­rencing for visas,” said Dow in a previous interview. “There’s no reason someone should travel hundreds of miles to go to aUS embassy. We should be able to have someone apply close to where he or she lives and be authorized through videoconfe­rencing.”

This coverage was made possible by Delta Airlines and the city of Orlando, Florida. Delta flies 12 times a week from Manila to the US, includingO­rlando, via Japan.

Barcelona such success.”

Midfielder Daniel Alonso explains, “For us, it is important to wait for the right moment to strike and, until then, to keep passing. You might give two passes that seem to lack any value but the third may be the decisive one. The first pass you make does not need to be a direct one, seeking out your forwards.”

Whichmakes one think that just like in life, what is more important is not the end point or whether you hit your goal or not, but more so the lessons you learn along the way. And how important it is to keep trying, to show courage in the face of seemingly insurmount­able odds.

A former student of mine in my Ateneo grief class, Miggy Mendoza who recently graduated with an MA in Sports Administra­tion from Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, said it best. “Losing a game is a good way to learn and practice resilience.” And the Spaniards certainly showed us just that this season.

I found an interestin­g article on the web written by Mogamo, a Liberian life coach and Baptist minister. Mogamo has a doctorate in Theology. He shares life lessons that even non-soccer fans can pick up from theWorld Cup.

Goalkeeper. Kicking the ball straight into the goal does not guarantee it will make it to the back of the net. A goalkeeper stands there to teach us that no meaningful goal in life can be achieved without one final obstacle that may foil all previous obstacles (opposing players) you may have overcome in the past.

Value of one goal. Carles Puyol’s winning goal against Germany made all the difference. Every goal in a soccer match is celebrated as though it is the winning goal. This is because players work so hard and for so long to score a single goal. In life, wemust celebrate every achievemen­t even if your assignment is not over. And remember, goals can be achieved oftentimes in the least expected ways.

Draw game. No one has to win for players and fans alike to enjoy a good game of soccer. A nil-nil game can be just as exhilarati­ng as a game with three goals. Life does not always have to produce winners and losers.

Patience. Unlike any other sport, soccer teaches one the value of patience. Scoring a goal, like achieving a dream, can take time and teaches the athlete, spectator and dreamer many valuable lessons in perseveran­ce and diligence.

Later today, Spain goes up against the Netherland­s for theWorld Cup. For both countries, it will be a first. I had wanted both teams to make it to the finals, so in that sense, I feel like a winner already. But I know that the team who wants it the most will get it. Passion, poetry, skill and teamwork will be key.

Like in life and relationsh­ips, it is important to know the rhythm and flow of the people that you work with so that great things can be achieved and relationsh­ips can go smoothly. If Spain’s reserve goalkeeper Pepe Reina’s words are any indication, the Netherland­s will be up for a major battle. Reina says, “‘It is our secret. We know each other by memory and we don’t panic because in aWorld Cup the games are really close and you have to be patient and keep trying to find the space. We did it at the end against Germany and we are proud of that.’

May the best team win.

E-mail the author at cathybabao@ gmail.com

 ?? COSTUMED characters (above) straight out of one of the theme parks’ fairytale adventures welcome guests. At left, “Elvis” regales journalist­s at the press center sponsored by the Las Vegas tourism bureau. ?? million in 2009, and a mere 10.5 million in 2000.”
The US could only attract 640,000 Chinese tourists last year, said Dow. China is what Japan was to the US in the ’70s. Combined with another emerging giant such as India, the two countries could dwarf...
COSTUMED characters (above) straight out of one of the theme parks’ fairytale adventures welcome guests. At left, “Elvis” regales journalist­s at the press center sponsored by the Las Vegas tourism bureau. million in 2009, and a mere 10.5 million in 2000.” The US could only attract 640,000 Chinese tourists last year, said Dow. China is what Japan was to the US in the ’70s. Combined with another emerging giant such as India, the two countries could dwarf...
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