Football – Teamwork Enshrined

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There are two situations I would briefly like to evoke because in them the value I assign to
teamwork is born and consolidated – teamwork both as the achievement of objectives and as a
means of fulfilment.

When I was still a boy and my football techniques had started to give me my first joys, there was
an idea that made a profound impact on me, and which I hold even today as one of the most
valuable of treasures.
In one of the many football fields I have shared over the years with friends, on a day like any
other of my childhood, the idea of associated playing suddenly came to me.
It was like the materialization of a truth that turned up there to illuminate those hours.
I had now found exactly the company I could play football with.
It was like having found my opposite half who could understand and live football in the same
way I did.
The ball came and went with the same quality and generosity with which my entire being already
felt at ease.
Football was, to me, a fantastic game simply because we could share it.
When associated playing occurred, friendship and joy each agreed to celebrate the goals scored
by the other’s team. Scored in this way, of course.
It was like a silent language kindled between us, a language of actions with no words. We were
in agreement, without even knowing each other.
Those were times when we were really safe from any kind of selfishness.
Football conceived in this way is so marvellous it is even capable of offering the possibility of a
dialogue without actually speaking.
My childish and even youthful intolerance towards those who did not feel and play football in this
way was eventually dispelled when I understood that sharing is a boundary few can go beyond.
There always have been and always will be those who are simply incapable of sharing.
A long time afterward, the exercise of thinking about these things not only helped me to increase
my ability to distinguish one group from the other – it also taught me how to choose what was
best for me. To know who would and who wouldn’t share, who sharing is possible with and to
what extent, and who it is simply impossible with. Whether on a football field or in life.
Argentina did not take part in the 1970 F.I.F.A. World Cup held in Mexico. The team was eliminated
by the outstanding Peruvian team.
At the age of 14, and filled with sadness at not being able to see my own country taking part, the
Brazilian team soon healed that wound.
It was by far the best team I have ever seen in my life.
From the point of view of performance, I believe it was a communion of several things: technique
at the service of intelligence executed in a masterly fashion at the feet of each of Brazil’s players,
fantastic creative ability from the mid-field forward, and the shared effort to recover the ball,
distribute it and create sufficient goal situations to keep their rivals on their toes.
Sheer communion of virtues, effort and joy. And as though this were not enough, they had Pelé
on the team.
It was thus Brazil built up their victory in each match, consecrating not only their own football,
but the very sport itself. Not only because they placed football first on the podium but because
they made it stand in the most admirable place – a place that represented beauty to the eyes
and delight to the heart.
A veritable work of art.
And as tends to happen with works of art, it required no words to explain it, or podium to
consecrate it. The work spoke for itself from that world of its own it had already created.

What they left there is one of the most beautiful memories that remain even today after all the
time gone by. It was the best achieved blending of the human race and football I have ever seen.
The teams sent by Holland in ’74 and Argentina in ’86 at times awakened a similar feeling of joy
to that of the memorable Brazilian team, most particularly at the feet of Cruyff and Maradona.
Where else would I be able to encounter, then, the source of this worth I attribute to group work
other than in these two memories linked by the same feeling of infinite satisfaction and inner joy,
experienced at different times, first as a player and later as a spectator?
It is hardly possible for a company to achieve the objectives they have set themselves unless
they have previously decided what exactly they want to achieve, what their mission is, the
timescales for achieving their main objectives, and the time-frames for their partial goals. Then
also, their work plan, the principles, ideas, strategies and procedures to be implemented, the
specific role of each of their members, the resources available, the way the company is to be
incorporated and organised, channels of communication and the kind of profile they choose to
adopt, alternative plans, and so on.
The same happens with football institutions and their teams.
Winning a championship is, undoubtedly, any team’s most yearned after dream.
There are, however, a number of considerations that mingle and interact throughout the work
and time devoted to achieving an objective.
These considerations, simply because they involve, and are decisive in, our ability to achieve our
objectives or not, are well worth the effort of being shown and being kept always in mind.
I intend to present only a few of these here, those I feel are most significant, simply to prove that
our success or failure does not depend on good or bad luck, but rather on the way we ourselves
act.
For it is precisely all that is outside what we actually do that will get lost in what is foreign or
alien to us.
Who better than ourselves to decide on the path we are to follow? Who better than ourselves to
decide what the ideas and procedures are that can best defend our objectives, what the strategy
of our work should be, and what situations could lead to most opposition to our aims?
Ultimately, our success or failure is in no event the consequence of fate but rather of what we
have done rightly or wrongly, and very frequently of what we have not as yet done.
We should ask ourselves whether we have ever desired something good for ourselves, and
what we have actually done to make this desire come true. Because though it may seem a
contradiction, it is very likely we have not even been able to respect what is good for us.

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Prof. Roberto A. Rodrigo
Football Coach – Technical Director
Buenos Aires, May 17th, 2009.
All rights reserved.
Translated by Elizabeth Birks