by Awais Leghari
Football for me is everything. I play it on my computer, I play it at the park/ground and I follow/watch all the matches of my favorite club. Therefore, when the opportunity came around to play some football at the ground about 2 months ago, I embraced it.
I live in a very small, close-knit residential society, and there are quite a lot of young people like me who love to play football. Our mutual love translated into a football team – well, somewhat a team – so we are always excited when some other team is willing to play with us. We take it as a challenge, and the sentiments we employ on the field or off the field are no different than two great teams in an international arena going face to face; such is the emotional provocation power in a game of football.
One of the team members included an ‘insignificant’ player with no proven technique or quality that could help establish in the starting team. We ended up leaving him on the bench. Nonetheless, his burning passion did not wane, but clearly, he felt a little dejected. He was in my circle of close friends, and since I stood on the principle of supporting better players, my friend’s dejection did not come as a surprise.
The game progressed, and we were in a tight mix. One of the players got injured and we needed replacement, of which there were plenty. The injured player was a defender, and my dejected friend played in the defense as well. However, all of my team-mates supported a substitution in favor of the attack i.e. bringing on an attacker instead of a defender. Now that literally drained whatever confidence my friend had. Uncertainty prevailed – what should we do? I thought it would be a good chance to let my friend play, but it will be a gamble. If he plays bad, he wouldn’t be informed of any upcoming major matches, if he plays well, he lives. Bound by circumstances, we as a team collectively decided to let me friend in on the game. Out of nowhere, his confidence resurrected. The feeling that followed not only pulsated in him, but engulfed the whole team. A new drive emerged, and we felt more confident. Perhaps there are many ways an individual can affect a game, and not just by playing inspiring football.
We lost the game, but my friend performed unexpectedly well.
I was quick to ‘validate’ his efforts, and that had an unusual affect on him. Possessing a really shy personality, my friend grew confident as I heaped praise. Whenever he played, I did that, even if he played bad. It kept him going. He was content to know that someone really supported his aims, no matter how ridiculous they sounded.
Yesterday, I was invited to play a match. Since I was out of touch with local football scene for a lot of time, the ‘inner-self’ convinced me to accept the invitation, even though I have an exam tomorrow. There, playing opposite this time, was my friend. He wasn’t even playing in his usual defensive position – he was playing as a right winger. Going into opposition changes everything. Having little or no concern about the threat my friend was capable of, I, as a defender, chose to ignore his advances. That was probably the greatest mistake I ever made. My friend was inspiring to say the least. His ball control had improved a lot, so did his ability to find other players around the six-yard box.
We won that game, though.
Nevertheless, I HAD to recognize him for the effort he had put in, and for the amazing improvement he had made.
And where did it all start from? Yes, it started from the chance we gave him – a chance which rekindled confidence in my friend which had been laid to rest. But what kept him going? Validation. Encouraging him to do better and believing in his dreams.
Validation makes a lot of difference. It helps the troubled person get through hard times and it most certainly helps dreamers. Believing in someone’s dream is like living his dream, and when it does come true, you’re a part of the changes that happen as a consequence of the dream coming true. And as you know, dreams coming true don’t happen quite often and they deliver immense amount of joy and happiness in your life.
Keep validating each other’s effort. You will get validated in return, and perhaps you may make a difference in this world.