It is late evening in London and I think I am going to love the Football World Cup matches… because I know each match will whisper a few secrets about life and living every time without fail.

The message I got from this match is that we all need a Yuichi Nishimura in our lives… helping us score a penalty to create that roar of excitement that so energises life. That penalty, by the way, did pretend to be the deciding moment of the match but the thunder was stolen calmly by Oscar’s delicate kick that made the ball whizz past Stipe Pletikosa, the Croatian goalkeeper.

In the opening match today, Brazil beat Croatia 3:1 with the social media yelling that all goals were scored by Brazil! So obviously, the opening game of the #Brazil2014 World Cup was both entertaining and controversial… and gives us a few pointers for our own lives.

‘Football matches and lessons for life?’ I can hear some of the readers whisper.

Well, yes, because after all we do face corner kicks, fouls, yellow cards and red cards and there is lots of shoving, pushing, ball possession, passing, advance, retrieval, team work, footwork, kicks, dribble, kick off, obstructions, tackles, pokes, headers, and traps… and this makes the game so much like life itself.

Look at what Marcelo did. Obviously, stars can’t shine without darkness… and this is what went through my mind as I watched a great player do something incongruous and unexpected that even he probably did not understand. But then, that self-goal is what made the crowd go berserk when Neymar scored twice and when Oscar had his moment of glory.

However, throughout the match I had this feeling that the Croatian team was making t

he Brazilians sweat in their pants and their victory wasn’t as easy as the scorecard makes it look like. Even Ben Smith from BBC Sports writes: ‘Brazil were struggling for rhythm; insipid not inventive. They needed a moment of magic, a spark. It would come from a familiar source of inspiration.’ This is precisely what the best amongst us experience… sometimes we seem to win because our opponents just happen to score a self-goal and then simply go on and get the right passes and the right gaps… and, of course, a Yuichi Nishimura appearing to give them a penalty stroke!

We all need a Yuichi Nishimura (that Japanese referee) to win.

So does this mean that the wonderfully intuitive game of Neymar is all in vain? No, life wants us to come to the ball for the penalty kick doing a jig to make our final move as obscure as possible… and then just deliver a powerful nudge and hope that goal-keeper doesn’t dive to catch or deflect the ball. So yes, it is never a great idea to let the world know of all your plans before you are actually in the process of executing them. Remember, there are fast goalkeepers waiting to intercept your plans and they wouldn’t shed a tear to see to walk back without your expected reward. There is a very thin line between a goal that is cored and a penalty kick that is stopped from scoring! This is almost what Sun Tzu says in his ‘Art of War’: ‘Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.’ How successful you are in obscuring your moves and disallow them to be read by your competitors is what makes you a victorious warrior even before you’ve gone into war!

As I watched the first match I could not help muttering often how vital it is to have a team of great players coming together to chisel a victory. And I’m not just talking of the Brazilian team here. Even the Croatians displayed great team-work and losing on match surely is not the end of their dreams for sure. This is precisely what happens with us all in our families or in our official environment. We need great team-work to help us all push each other ahead. Do you think Oscar would have managed that goal had he not got that crucial pass at the right time? No.

One final thought that I need to share here. Every time a team wins there will be people who will whine and protest and say things like: ‘Brazil won the match, but lost the neutrals’ sympathy.’ Well, let the neutrals go to hell. They are the sort who would anyway have been too stingy in opening the purse strings of their vault where they store praise and pats!

So what really matters? Winning by a thin margin or winning with a Yuichi Nishimura giving you that added momentum?

I’d prefer to have Yuichi Nishimura on my side.

Brazil vs Croatia. Football World Cup 2014

Brazil vs Croatia. Football World Cup 2014



Arvind Passey
13 June 2014