Lessons from the beautiful game

  • Dr (Major) Ankur Malhotra, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jun 23, 2014 09:26 IST

The football world cup fever is in full swing. People across the globe are rejoicing the beautiful game. Goals are being scored and fantastic saves being made every day in Brazil.

People are going gaga over every kick but we in India are busy celebrating and glorifying a different game, the one we have mastered over the years: scoring in the competitive entrance examinations.

The pictures of top-rank achievers, which the coaching academies hit you with in full-page advertisements in the morning, overshadow the feats of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar.

In India, getting into even the first thousand entrants of some prestigious institutes can transform you into a celebrity overnight. Local reporters chase you for interview and bug you to know your study routine, dedication, goals, and the difficult journeys of your parents and even distant cousins. They’ll publish even your Facebook status and the number of your online friends.

Your jealous neighbours will vouch for your sincerity and your commitment to success.

Our entire education system is immature, flawed and Neanderthal in approach, and just as the character played by Aamir Khan said in Hindi movie “3 Idiots”, it only increases the pressure on the students who couldn’t make it to the selection list. The stress leads to depression, frustration, dissatisfaction, and hopelessness. The media over-glorify a few achievers and declare the winners before the real match even starts. We are made to believe that the success in these tests will guarantee triumph in all the trials of life.

Every individual has different skill sets, virtues, talents and intellect. The scores of a single entrance exam can’t predict success over a long career. Our education system can take a few lessons from the ongoing World Cup, where every player is not a striker, and even the best strikers in the world cannot perform alone. You require strong midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers as well.

Teamwork matters in achieving the goal.

Even the best strikers in the world fail sometimes. They cannot score in every match. The biggest lesson: the game is not over until the final whistle.

In the words of early 20th-century US sportswriter Henry Grantland Rice:

For when the Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks — not that you won or lost — But how you played the game.

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