The Great Game
Models for football clubs to improve performance, confidence, reduce injuries and improve relationships within a club, supporters and media
The great Pele coined the phrase many years ago and although there have been significant changes in the structure of the organisational part of the game – that old truth is still true today. I truly believe that football has a unique opportunity to influence society in a massive way. Already it is doing so and young people everywhere tend to copy their idols in various ways, some positive and some negative.
We are now in a truly transformational time in human evolution where many traditional structures are having to change some of their old outdated methods in order to accommodate the ideas of co-operation and consideration for each other – rather than an insular way of looking at life where our survival is dependent on others somehow being ‘destroyed’ or ‘losing’ in some way.
My vision is to bring to the awareness of those in the game as to the principles of ‘cause and effect’ and to point out how the understanding of these ancient principles could have a massively powerful positive influence on the structure of football at all levels – and then bring back the beauty of the game to all involved.
If all those involved were to begin practicing the principles that what we focus on – we bring into our experience or, what we give out – we get back – I believe it would transform the way the game is, both played, and administered.
If all involved understood the principle that everyone with whom we come into contact – is actually ourselves – they would surely change the way they behaved towards each other.
Imagine if managers and coaches only spoke positively about the officials instead of criticising and blaming them for every mistake they made. If they were to practice the ancient rule of forgiveness they would experience a dramatic positive change in their circumstances. The late, great Brian Clough despite all his human frailties embodied these principles with match officials. He never spoke ill of any referee or linesman and his players followed his example and were severely disciplined by him if they ever transgressed this rule. Consequently, match officials thoroughly enjoyed the experience of officiating in matches involving Brian Clough’s teams.
I was fortunate to count the late Ron Greenwood as one of my friends and used to spend many hours at his house discussing all aspects of the game and I always remember one of Ron’s favourite sayings was ‘Football is only a reflection of life and society John’. Another thing he spoke of was that it was always his belief that part of a manager’s job was to educate his directors and also the supporters about how he wanted his players to perform and behave. His teams epitomised respect for self and others and he managed to act as a role model to supporters. Ron told me how his beloved West Ham United were once thrashed by a visiting team from Eastern Europe and the whole crowd stood to applaud the visitors off at the end of the game. Ron had educated them to appreciate the beauty of the game, even in defeat.
When supporters today offer abusive chants to anyone, visiting supporters, opposition players and even officials – if they could understand that what they give out HAS to return. Maybe not immediately but somewhere along the line it has to come back to them. I don’t think it was a coincidence that during the great Liverpool years of the 70’s and early 80’s their supporters were known to show amazing respect and appreciation to all visiting teams and their supporters. I’m not suggesting that it was all down to that but I do believe that had a positive effect on their performance on the field.