Headmaster’s Welcome to the BISP Soccer Sevens.
I stagger on.
Regular readers will guess that my corporeal presence lags somewhat behind my lightening mental reflexes, which can be awkward when I try to put both together on a football field – but I am still playing; and this is the point. As I am fond of saying: ‘I walk onto a pitch and if – when the final whistle goes – I am capable of walking off the pitch then it is a win for me. (I suspect that I also tend to walk in between these two critical moments, but ‘sort of’ owning the pitch, as well as the ball, does have its distinct advantages).
Football has served me well – sport in general has served me well – and it will do so, I am sure, for our young people. It can provide a life-long interest, if not passion, but more importantly, perhaps, it will create friendships and memories that can sustain us throughout our lives.
For the duration of any sporting competition, the cares of our individual worlds cease to weigh so heavily on us, and although they patiently await our return, for a few precious moments we are free to dream about what could be – or in my case and no doubt many others, what could have been. If only…
For those of us privileged enough to be able to watch our children play it adds a wonderful dimension. But be gentle with them, it is their moment now. They will make of it what they will, and they will surely grow as a result of the experience.
Finally, a tournament on this scale is a major undertaking for the school, and the Athletic Director, the football coaches and all members of staff of the school have demonstrated the most extraordinary teamwork to give so many young people an experience to remember for the rest of their lives. If something should not go perfectly according to plan, please be gentle with us too – but also, and especially, with the many referees and officials without whom nothing would be possible at all.
Have a great tournament.
” Of course, all athletes compete to win, and I am sure many of you will try your utmost to do so, but for most of us throughout our sporting careers we have also had to learn how to lose. This is by far the hardest, but also the most valuable lesson, because it is how we are able to react to failure that will largely determine future success, not only in sport but also throughout our lives.
A clear objective in any game should be to gain the respect of the opposition, this requires each of you to play fair, work hard and always stay positive!
Win or lose, what I can guarantee is that everyone involved in the tournament will take away memories that will last a lifetime.
Enjoy the next two days, and give of your best and then – no matter what the mathematics tells you – walk off the pitch with your head held high.”