Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Paul Wright | Putting egos aside

Published:Tuesday | July 3, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Croatia's Luka Modric (right) duels for the ball with Iceland's Johann Gudmundsson during their FIFA World Cup Group D match on Tuesday, June 26.

As the World Cup enters the knockout stage of the competition, shocks and surprises seem to be the order of the day. So far, the so-called greatest exponents of the art of football find themselves out of the competition.

Who could have thought that after the first stage of the competition, Mesut Ozil from Germany, Lionel Messi from Argentina, Cristiano Ronaldo from Portugal, and recently, Andres Iniesta from Spain, would all be making arrangements to watch the finals from their homes? These occurrences remind me of a quote that I read some time ago: "The best teams usually win because their stars don't act like one".

Modern football is not about individual greatness, it is about getting 11 players to combine their skill and talent in a team effort, geared towards victory. The great basketball coach Phil Jackson once said, "Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the 'me' for 'we'". The support of the Croatian team shown to Luka Modric after he missed a game-winning penalty with four minutes of time remaining in the game against Denmark, indicates the trust of his fellow players that will augur well in the quarter-finals against Russia. The teams that are qualifying for the final stages of this World Cup are not playing the type of 'exhilarating football' that fans swore would be a feature of this World Cup. The well-worn and trite clichÈ - 'good goalkeeping, a solid defensive line, a mobile and creative midfield and hungry strikers' - still stands. The stars have departed, and the teams that combine all the facets of the clichÈ will prevail. This World Cup is truly 'The Greatest Show on Earth'.




Here at home, the Red Stripe Premier League will have two newcomers later this year when the competition returns. Dunbeholden, lacking major sponsors and big-name stars, won the play-offs and will now have to find a proper home ground and major sponsors if they are to withstand the well-known and fearsome reality of spending millions of dollars, chasing a much lesser sum in prize money. The runners-up in the play-off competition are Mount Pleasant, a new kid on the block, whose stated long-term programme is development. The hiring of MoBay-based coach, Reggae Boy Paul 'Tegat' Davis, smacks of genius. Then, when the reality of gaining promotion to the Premier League loomed large, the employment of master tactician Donovan Duckie and the ability of these two coaches to put ego aside and work TOGETHER to achieve promotion is the stuff of legends. The ability to surrender the 'me' for 'we' has once again proven to be a sure recipe for success. How well this lesson in life and success resonates with sportsmen, sportswomen and administrators remains to be seen. But what is certain is that teams and administrators who understand this truism will continue to reap success, while those who continue the 'me first' and 'leader for life' mentality will wonder open-mouthed as to 'how come unknown Dunbeholden' and 'Just-come Mount Pleasant' are at the top, while my team continues to struggle?

As it is in the World Cup, so it is in local football. Teams that understand the importance of team spirit, camaraderie, tactics and local support will prevail. Those that constantly rely on name brand and hype will find themselves organising 'watch parties' when the finals of the competition that they started in are being played ... by other teams.