By Marisa Lopez Rivera
There’s a neighborhood activity center near my parents’ house where hundreds of children play soccer on the weekend. Driving by, you can see the girls and boys in colorful uniforms running up and down the field while their parents sit in lawn chairs or on giant coolers. After the games are over, the contestants and their parents usually rush over to a nearby ice cream shop to celebrate or console each other over a bowl of soft-serve.
However, you never see adults playing on that field. Because, in the United States, soccer is still considered a sport little kids play on Saturday afternoons.
Much to my delight, this summer the World Cup turned a spotlight on the sport. Team USA received a lot of attention because it had the dubious distinction of being placed in the “Group of Death” with Germany, Portugal and Ghana.
Hopes were not high.
But team captain Clint Dempsey opened the U.S. team’s first game with a goal during the first minute of play. I was making dinner, so I lost track of time. I turned on the TV three minutes into the game, and I’d missed the goal.
Life is like that, too. Sometimes you have to make quick decisions. And — if you’re working with a good team — you can convert these opportunities into great successes.
So, what can the World Cup teach you about teamwork?
First, just because your team is one of the best doesn’t mean things will always work in your favor. Think: Spain or Brazil. They had great individual players, but they were unable to jell. While you may work with some brilliant people, if you don’t work as a team then you won’t accomplish much.
Second, your teammates have to have your back. Although every team member has an important role, you must be able — and willing — to pick up the slack if someone is overwhelmed. Watching out for each other can make even a high-stress situation manageable.
Third, take the shot. Conditions are seldom perfect; the key to success is taking advantage of opportunities. Nothing brings more regret than missing a chance because you waited too long.
Fourth, you’re going to make mistakes. There are going to be times when your teammates aren’t happy with you. However, learn from your mistakes and move on. If you’re part of a good team, your teammates will do the same.