A penalty kick. 12 Yards away and it’s just you and the keeper. Should be an easy goal, right? Not so much. From the outside looking in, a penalty seems like one of the easiest shots you will ever take. But, as a professional player myself, I know all too well that there’s so much more to it. The type of field, the occasion, the fans, and the pressure are some factors that influence the penalty – not to mention what we all recently witnessed between Italy and England, a European Championship on the line!
It takes real guts and courage to step up to take any penalty. But can you imagine the pressure in a game as big as the European Final with the whole world watching? The intensity and nerves must be unbelievably immense. Your team, coaching staff, family, and entire country are all relying on you to step up and score.
But what happens if you miss?
Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Bukayo Saka are all extremely talented and brave men. Young men, I might add. At 23, 21, and 19 respectively, their bravery impresses me even more. Unfortunately (for them and all England fans), they all missed their PK’s in the final last weekend. As someone who’s missed PK’s before, albeit I don’t know what it’s like to have a whole country counting on me, I do know that it’s a horrible feeling.
What’s your perspective on the situation? What’s your conclusion about these three young men? Are they failures? Should they be mocked, scolded, and disrespected in the media and public? Or should they be applauded for their strength and bravery? Should they be comforted and encouraged to use this as an opportunity to build resilience?
If you’re asking me, or anyone at Soccer Resilience®, it’s absolutely the latter. (We stand against racism! There’s no place or excuse for the kind of vitriol that’s been hurled at these young men). Sometimes in soccer, and in life, you’re given opportunities to be brave and take risks when there’s a lot of pressure on you. And when this happens, you have two choices. Will you choose to rise to the challenge? Or will you choose to run from it?
When you do choose to rise and end up executing successfully, no doubt, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world! But, as you know, it doesn’t always work out like you hope it will. And it can be absolutely crushing when it doesn’t work out. As a player, coach, parent, and human being, when (not if) you encounter hard times like this, it’s crucial to maintain the right perspective. Instead of asking yourself, “why did this have to happen to me?” Ask, “what is life trying to teach me right now?” Or, “How can I grow through what I’m going through?”
It’s important to be brave and take risks when pursuing your goals and dreams. You’ll never reach your full potential by playing it safe! When life doesn’t give you what you want at a certain moment, trust that there’s something much better waiting for you! Shift your mind from, “Why me?” To remind yourself that, “Even though I don’t understand it now, I believe this adversity will prepare me for something much greater in the future!”
I salute Sancho, Rashford, and Saka for having the guts to step up for their country in such an important game. They should be embraced, lifted up, and even celebrated, because regardless of the outcome, they earned something greater than a trophy, the peace of mind and self respect that comes from resisting the urge to shrink back, run or hide. They will all become stronger because of this!
Don’t just go through it, grow through it!
Keep building resilience!