I am writing this from Dubai, we came to cheer our son and the team that is participating in the Dubai international Supa cup. This is a tournament that has over 20 teams from different countries participating. Of course this was a good excuse to come for another holiday……

So yesterday our team lost 4-1 to a South African team on the first match and then 3-2 to a Dubai team in the second match. This was a fair performance in my opinion given the skills and the exposure of the other teams. However, we really hope to win today.

Most of you watch soccer and many times the spectators tend to understand soccer more than the players in the field. When the striker miss a goal or when the goal keeper fails to save the goal, the spectators are always up in arms sending some not very kind words to the direction of the players. So, we were watching seated closer to our boys who were on the bench and you would expect the boys to feel let down by this goal keeper who did not save the many balls that made the team lose.

I was wondering, how come they could not get a “serious” goal keeper. Those who know me will tell you that when I wonder I always ask, and i asked, “is there a problem with the goal keeper?” I learnt that he  is a special kid.  Sometimes he would loose concentration and waaah….goooaal, the ball would be in the net before he is back to the game. Interestingly none of the boys would feel let down or send those not very kind words to this goal keeper like many adults would do. Even the couch was very calm and composed even as the team was losing.

When the first match was over, and the goal keeper was crying because he felt a let down to the team, the coach and the other boys reminded him on the one goal he saved. All these boys are below 12 years and they have come to an international stadium to play and win.

Three variable lessons for every team:


1. Focus on strengths: I noted that the team had a very strong defence that tried to keep the ball as far from the goal post as possible. It was easier for them to focus on the fact that they did not have a strong goal keeper and probably give up. When you focus on the strength of each and every team member and put each one in their strength position, you win with everyone on board.

2. Seek opportunities to celebrate each team member: When the match was over and the goal keeper was crying, I saw the coach walk to him and reminded him of the one goal he saved and all the boys celebrated him. I believe this helped the whole team play better in the second match why they lost 3-2.

3. Each individual in the team is important: This boy depends on the coach and the  team acceptance and support for his self esteem. Can you imagine if he was not allowed to participate in the international match? You have heard this saying that ” a country is more important than any individual”  while I partially agree with the statement, I believe that every team is made up of individuals who come with their strengths and weaknesses. Some leaders/coaches would not focus on individuals so long as they are achieving the overall goal. It would have been easier for this coach to replace the special boy with another “better” goal keeper and probably win big. But I admire his attitude of, “it’s never that serious to cost any of these boys self esteem”


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