An Open Letter to Team Brazil (FIFA World Cup 2014)
Background: I wrote this letter last evening after watching a semi-final game in the FIFA World Cup, Team Germany playing against Team Brazil. On the one hand, it feels like a strange thing to post in this blog. On the other hand, it could be viewed as an example of connecting to the compassionate self, imagining what a person might be moved to say when in contact with at least some of the qualities of compassion—something we do a lot of in compassion-focused therapy. So I’ve decided to post my quiet letter writing here with a compassion-focused context in mind (a context that is very relevant to this blog).
Dear Team Brazil,
In truth, I ached for you today and I thought of your courage. I also thought about what I might say to you if I were asked, and what came to mind was this.
It takes courage to do what you are doing. It takes courage to go out in front of thousands of people and play football. It takes courage to keep going, to show your face when the odds on the scoreboard are surely against you. It takes courage when you feel trodden down, and when commentary may be harsh.
No matter the business and design of the game, there is, in my view, more than one way to win. One way is measured by the number on the scoreboard. Another is with the perseverance you display, with your dignity and pride, with your cohesiveness as a team, and with your sportsmanship both on and off the pitch.
I read recently that Canadian curling coach, Earl Morris, has said, “None of us are as good as all of us”. To show up and put the effort in, to learn, to play with respectfulness and cohesiveness, to embody the reasons to stand with pride—and to do this even when some things are not going as hoped or well—this is another way to win. It is worthy of respect. It is worthy of applause.
On Saturday, you will play for goals for certain, and you may be up or you may be down. Please remember that in either case, you can always play to win.
Footnote: The Earl Morris line I read about on twitter — on the site of @TeamHoman, an excellent women’s Canadian curling team based out of Ottawa, Ontario.