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Spirituality of soccer

Soccer binds people of diverse nations, races, colours and cultures, rich and poor.

india Updated: Jun 13, 2006 10:59 IST

What all the religions of the world preach and all the good qualities they ask us to imbibe, can be learnt, practiced, perfected and tested on the soccer field. It can teach and test not only your skill but also your character. It can test your strengths and reveal your weaknesses. It can make you experience hope and despair, agony and ecstasy. Whoever invented this game must be both a genius and messiah.

The spiritual beauty of the game lies in its simplicity. What happens in the short span of an hour-and-a -half, on a rectangular filed of about 100X60 metres between two teams of 11 each and a simple ball can make you see both heaven and hell. You can feel time stop and moments stretched to eternity.

It is this beauty, which makes people of diverse nations, races, colours and cultures, rich and poor, love the game. It is the most popular sport today with more following than any religion in the world.

A game of soccer can teach you so much about life and spirituality. The soccer field represents this universe. The period of the game is nothing but your life. The rules of soccer are the limitations that you must contend with in your journey to achieve your aim. Your teammates are the people who can help you reach your goal in life. The opponents are the obstacles that you have to overcome to reach that goal. The referee represents your conscience. And the ball is your soul and its motion your fickle nature.

The better you can control it the easier it is to reach the goal. The goalposts represent the Lord Almighty with whom your soul, the, ball, craves to connect. And the goal that you score is nothing but the salvation of your soul. This is perhaps the true lesson in Swami Vivekananda’s statement to young Indian men, “You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita.” However, while playing soccer may be a spiritual experience, what about spectator violence?