“Hay quienes sostienen que el fútbol no tiene nada que ver con la vida del hombre, con sus cosas más esenciales; desconozco cuánto sabe la gente de la vida, pero de algo estoy seguro: no saben nada de fútbol.”
– Eduardo Sacheri, escritor argentino.
“Some argue that football has nothing to do with the most essential things in life; I don’t know how much these people know about life, but I’m certain of one thing: they know nothing about football.”
– Eduardo Sacheri, Argentine writer.
Every single day, people all over the world watch football and play football. We talk about it at work, we talk about it in school. You can see it on TV, you can read about it in the newspapers. For many aficionados, it is a sport which has the ability to transcend mere entertainment. Football is more than just a game for them, it becomes a way of life.
It’s easy to laugh at this idea if you’re not the kind of person who eagerly awaits the weekend in anticipation of your next footballing fix. But by scratching beneath the green grass surface, it’s easy to see how life can be exactly like a game of football.
Think about it, the aim of the game is to score as many goals as possible. Life is much the same. We set ourselves targets to achieve and we celebrate when we reach those goals. Sometimes we push ourselves too hard and overcomplicate matters, just as footballers add clever tricks and fancy footwork to their game. But this doesn’t always pay off; sometimes it’s better to stay focused and keep things simple. Occasionally, we can suffer unexpected setbacks along the way, just as footballers do when they get injured. But we brush them off, and we work hard to get back to our peak. Whatever direction life takes us in, and whatever the final score, when the referee blows his whistle signalling the end of the game, we want to be able to look back and know that we tried our best.
That said, football does more than just provide a convenient metaphor for life. There are many things we can learn from within the four corners of a pitch. Indeed, the beautiful game produces many beautiful values that we can apply to life itself.
One of the most obvious values, given football’s position as a group sport, is teamwork. No squad of players will win a game unless they work together. In this age of bank-breaking transfer price tags, we often see a club made up of expensive ‘celebrity’ players who are outperformed by a team of players perhaps less individually talented. In life, communication and interaction is vital in our work, in our studies, and in our relationships too. It breaks down boundaries and motivates us all to work for the good of the group.
Discipline and Perseverance
Other key values instilled in footballers are discipline and perseverance. To get to the top of their game, they have to train hard, practise, and remain focused. To have successful careers, people have to adopt a similar attitude. What’s more, everybody seems to have this idea in their heads of how they want their life to be, but reality doesn’t always work like that. We will suffer setbacks and we will come across unexpected obstacles that will require perseverance to get over.
Football governing bodies such as FIFA and UEFA often come under a great deal of scrutiny, particularly in the press, but the fair play ethic that they often stress is another value that is fittingly applicable to life. The world is full of many people of different ages, genders, races, and religions. In order to coexist happily, it’s important to treat each other with care and respect even though we are all leading very different lives. Furthermore, pulling all these various groups together through the means of teamwork can lead to greatness that otherwise might have been overlooked.
There’s also something to be said for fan loyalty. It’s quite amazing how football fans remain by their team’s side, win or lose. Many other aspects of life can become quite trivial, and we often lose interest when things aren’t going so well. But applying this kind of commitment to our work, hobbies, and social lives could really reap rewards.
As Eduardo Sacheri suggests, people who think that football is something trivial know very little about the importance of the game. For many people, football runs deep in their veins and is often passed down through families like genetics. As ridiculous as this may sound, it cannot be denied that football appears to have many parallels with life in general. Seriously, it’s more than just game!
One of the most important things about football is its ability to bring people together and to provide an escape from daily life. Almost the entire world has been infected with football fever thanks to the 2014 World Cup, and volunteers from Voluntario Global have been no exception! They’ve made several trips to Plaza San Martín in Buenos Aires to join the many porteños getting behind the Argentina national team! For a city that is often so divided by local teams such as Boca Juniors, River Plate, Racing and Independiente, it’s amazing to see everybody united, jumping up and down, dancing, singing, beating drums, and cheering altogether whenever their beloved country scores a goal.