The Human Spirit

In less than a week, the biggest event in the world is going to begin… For as long as I can remember, I’ve been mad about the ‘world game’ – actually the first memory I do recall is in 1978… The Road to Argentina. That was when it kicked in for me, literally. I caught football (or soccer to some of you) fever as a kid in Standard 5 (similar to Year 5 in Australian primary school speak). I would save my daily allowance, skip lunch and instead buy a plastic ball for a dollar and by the end of the day, us football-mad kids would have busted the ball and the next day, the cycle began anew. It was always me, among the group, who would lead by buying the ball. I would have easily been the most ‘assetized’ kid in the block, and also the one crazy enough to skip food and instead choose to play football with my friends. Those were some of my best memories growing up.

I would spend countless hours at home perfecting moves playing against the wall. When friends came over, we didn’t need a field, any space would do. I had more than my fair share of scoldings and beatings (yes, we were ‘expected’ to be disciplined by the rod and worse) when we err… lost control of the ball and made a mess of things breakable. But, did that stop us? No!

We were totally addicted and passionate about ‘the game’.

The question was, and is, ‘How did we catch the passion and love of this game?’

When I wasn’t playing football in the field, I would invent games using cards, action figurines etc. Have you seen how creative kids can be using bottle caps to invent a game of table soccer? Even pieces of paper or card and a scrupled up ball with matchbox goal boxes? Then video games came along and I swear, being a video game junkie that I was (and still am) I had every known electronic soccer game ever written.

It is very interesting to note that this year, the game will be played in Brazil. Wow, Brazil. Home to the most recognizable, famous and universally acknowledged champions of the game – Pele, Zico, Socrates, Ronaldo and today’s would be legend Neymar. Can you imagine the pressure?

But, I digress. It’s normal when you start talking about something you are passionate about. These days, I can only play (well) on the iPad or as a manager in those sims on the computer or iPhone. Still passionate about soccer, but it’s a tad more intellectual. What I did want to point to, and I’m sorry it took more than half the blog to get there, is where did the passion come from?

I didn’t get taught this. I wasn’t very good at it – I only made it to the class team, not even the school team. But, I did score and made some spectacular goals in my time. I think that happened because I was passionate about the game and not the other way around. What about the game (and any other sport) influenced and attracted people like me to love it, feel for it and become a fan(atic)?

How did that happen? Wouldn’t it be great if we can distill this great insight and use it to create super-learners in schools today?

One thing I can say for certain is this… football and how I view and played it had made me who I am today. I am more creative and ‘adaptable’ because of the game and the stars of the game I idolized and admired. Players like Platini, Georghe Hagi, Glenn Hoddle, Scholesy were people I had looked at and wondered at their genius, vision and absolute artistry. They were able to create something out of nothing, just like that. And that was an ethos and mastery I had sought to emulate in everything else that I do.

It’s been a while since I last watched and followed the World Cup. In 2010, I didn’t even watch a single match in its entirety. But, this year I intend to reignite my love and passion for the game. With the internet, and live streaming, it’s easy. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

After all, it’s more than a game, it’s a celebration of the human spirit. But then, what is the human spirit?

Nike attempts to capture it in its World Cup ad… Enjoy!



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