The unexpected resources football brings into our lives

I loved football since I was a little kid. I was watching all the important matches together with my father and my brother and even though I was a girl, I knew everything about football and I also had favorite teams and even players (my number ones were Inter Milano and Ronaldo). Even more, I loved to play football with my neighbors. Most of the time I was playing with the boys and if Romania would have had professional football for women, I would have definitely signed up for it (I would have loved to do that).

I remember even now that there was no bigger joy than the one we experienced when our team was winning and all the town was celebrating the victory. I am grateful that I was lucky enough to experience the amazing time when Romania’s team was one of the best teams in the world. 🙂

Growing up I started going to the important matches that took place near my town together with my friends. This way I started experiencing football in a different and much more intense way. And I started to feel a powerful sense of belonging because in that moment I had the same goal as all those people around me. We were experiencing everything together, both the highs and the lows. But when I moved to Bucharest my friends stayed back home or went to some closer cities and I disconnected from that part of my life. I only attended 4-5 very important matches after that.

After the “brief” introduction of my history with football, let me tell you why I decided to talk about it. I was inspired to write this post when I saw one post from my friend and blogger Raluca Muresan (RaluCalatoreste & Trip to Romania), who attended the Champions League semi-finals between Liverpool and Barcelona. No one really gave Liverpool any chances and they won. But it’s not that great accomplishment that inspired me. It’s the fact that in Raluca’s video I saw a gentleman who was so happy and was celebrating the victory so much, like it was the most important victory of his life. Seeing him I realized just how much football is enabling us to feel intense feelings and what a huge resource this is in our lives.

Men are raised being told not to show their feelings. They are men, they are not allowed to be weak. And in a way the girls are raised similarly because when they do show their emotions people look at them with pity: “Oh, you’re so sensible!”, “Poor girl” and so on. And this kind of things are making us try not to show our feelings because we don’t want to be perceived as weak or worst, to be judged (we want to be seen as strong and to be respected, right?). So what football is actually giving us is an opportunity to live a very wide range of feelings without being judged or berated by other people.
The range of emotions we are able to live in a football match is a very big one and it leads us through both polarities (extremes): from anger, sadness, regret, powerlessness, hopelessness to hope, trust, delight, joy, ecstasy. And we go so easily from one extreme to the other in merely seconds, that it creates emotional flexibility within us. And when we are talking about a big win, we get to experience a victory feeling that most people rarely experience in life (especially people who are not very ambitious and they probably don’t have the opportunity to experience this another time). And it’s not just the fact that it’s a big range of emotions, but they are also amplified by the fact that you are experiencing them on a stadium where 25.000 other people live the same emotions at the same time. The level of intensity depends on how big the stake is, whether or not you are on a stadium (even on a stadium, it depends if you are in the normal area or the supporters area), if you’re at a bar full of people watching the match, if you’re at home with your friends or all alone in front of the TV. All this elements have an impact on the level of intensity you will feel.

When our favorite team loses, the sadness, regret and anger are a bit lowered by the fact that we detach ourselves from the experience by saying that it’s the team that failed, it wasn’t us. The team let us down. If we were there, we would have done things better. We would have made a better pass, we wouldn’t have lost the ball, would have catch that ball and so on… 🙂 So we could have changed things and not fail. But when our team wins, we totally identify ourselves with that success. It’s also ours. We supported the team, we believed in them, we lived each moment to the max so we deserve the success just as much as they do.

When we are talking about a very high stake match, the success is much more valuable and so the feeling is so much more stronger, especially when the chances were very slim. Most of us don’t get the chance to experience that kind of a win in our lives. So we experience it through football, through our favorite team, with whom we identify ourselves with. Because in our mind, their success is also ours, just as much as it is theirs. But the beauty of it is the fact that when we experience something like this, inside of our brain are created neuronal pathways which are showing our brain how to get us there again. We learn how that feeling actually feels like so that from now on we know were we want to go again, what we want to live. And when you transform that in an intention, it helps you relive this kind of feelings in other areas of your life. If we don’t know what we what to experience and how that feels, we can’t experience it. This is why football is a great resource. It is giving us the opportunity to experience that kind of success and that level of joy with all our being. So that we know what we want to experience again.

But you know what’s even more powerful to me than that? I was looking at that gentleman who is living this huge success (which seemed almost impossible at a first glance) and I realized just how fortunate I am because I had the chance to experience that kind of success which was 100% mine. It wasn’t the success of my favorite team, a sportsman/sportswoman, a dear one but it was mine. I got the chance to actually do something that I never thought I could. And I had experienced this a few times in my life in the last three years. The most powerful experience of this kind was when I did the fire-walk at Unleash The Power Within. I was terrified of doing it, but I knew I had to. And the feeling I had when I realized I actually did it, is indescribable. I can only say that that was the moment when I realized and truly felt the fact that I can do anything I want to do. In that moment, I was the champion! And there’s nothing more powerful than being the champion of your life!

The things that scary us are the ones which brings us the biggest satisfactions. They don’t say that life begins at the end of your comfort line for nothing. 🙂 I can say that for the last year and a half I have lived at the edge of my comfort line, expanding it a little at a time. Sometimes one step at a time and other times 10 steps at a time. Do you want to know what gave me the courage to continually get out of my comfort zone? Aside from the fact that I was very focused on my growth, it was the fact that I knew I was capable of doing anything. How did I know that? From those 2-3 experiences in my life when I got to live that kind of extraordinary success that seemed to be impossible at first. But as it turns out, nothing is impossible. If I can walk on burning coals without getting burned, I can do anything! What do you think? How valuable is that kind of resource? I can say that for me it’s the most valuable thing possible. And that I want to experience that intensity of success as much as I can, sometimes because of my successes and other times because of the successes of those closest to me or my favorite sportsmen.

Coming back to football, beside the fact that football is giving us the chance to experience all that emotions and feelings without shame or fear of being judged, football is also teaching us a lot of other things. What this two semi-finals have thought us is to fight until the end even when it seams that we have no chance, when no one is believing in us (it’s enough for us to believe in ourselves). And more than that, to give our best, to do the most we can every second. Because every second can make the difference between winning or losing. That we can win even in the last few seconds! What where the chances of a goal in the last 5 seconds? Almost none. And yet, it happened. It doesn’t matter what are the chances, what matters is what we are willing to do. And I’m glad that we saw the same lesson in both semi-finals, because now we can’t just say that it was an accident. What were the chances that both semi-finals would be won be the team that had no chances? Almost none? 🙂 And yet it happened. This is also showing us another lesson: when someone is succeeding even if it seamed impossible, this success is inspiring others by seeing that it can be done. And so they are now able to believe it’s doable and they can actually do it (if you don’t think you can do it, you most definitely can’t).

I could never understand the teams which, when the other team was leading (sometimes even with only a one goal difference), they started playing defense, just so that they won’t loose with a big difference of goals (sometimes they did this even when it was a tie because for them that was a better result then losing, so they settled). Almost always the team which was playing defense was losing because when you are in defense, you give the other one the opportunity to keep attacking you. And if you keep trying to score (attack), you will eventually score, no matter how good the defense is. The chances favor those who attack, because they act instead of react. They don’t say that the best defense is offense for nothing. I realize now that that was an important lesson for my life and until today I didn’t realize that I have learned it because I used to watch football.

I always asked myself why don’t they risk it when it’s almost obvious that they will lose? What do they have to lose if they are losing any way? And the answer I just fully acknowledge now is that what they have to lose is their pride. They prefer losing with a 1/2 goals difference than risk it and try winning, but maybe lose with a bigger difference. Even if sometimes the rules of the game encourage this (in a championship it matters how many goals you have taken), I noticed that the ones who usually win are those who are willing to risk it. They say fortune favors the bold. And it does. I realize now that the fact that I noticed this and ask myself why are they not risking it helped me choose to risk it and fight when I was in a similar situation in my life (when I could have chosen to protect my pride). And even if in some instances I didn’t win, I live with a peaceful heart knowing I did my best. The few regrets I have come from moments when I didn’t risk and instead chose to stay safe. This showed me very clearly that I am much more at peace with myself when I did everything I could and still failed (even if my ego took a hit) then when I choose to be safe and not risk hurting my ego.

Looking at this sport with new eyes I realize that football is so much more than a game in which 22 people are chasing a ball (as people call it sometimes) and that it teaches us very valuable life lessons, even if we are not aware of it most of the time.

I am finishing this post with the intention to be on the stadium next year at the Champions League final. I said it, I wrote it, Universe, please make it happen!

Bellow you have the video I told you about, starting at that exact moment.

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