Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 26th 2014 Contents Well said, coach! As a former athlete in a
team sport, I can attest to the power of that
cohesion, and the unique feeling when one
experiences the undeniable force of a team
in unison. You are part of something and
it is part of you.
There is no doubt that our girls played
superbly, and deserve every bit of praise
given them. Indeed, they have surprised the
nation. Selflessness, like agility and ball
tricks, is a skill that takes years of hard work
to develop. It is the skill that our girls, and
all our teams for that matter, need to build
into their repertoire.
According to Phil Jackson, "Good teams
become great ones when the members trust
each other enough to surrender the "me"
for the "we."
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, December 26, 2014
There is no "I" in "team," yet there are two "I s"
in "Trinidad." Wait! Hear me out. This column is
not just another commentary about our women s
valiant effort at making World Cup history. Rather,
I would like to use events within that fateful match
as examples to highlight an important characteristic
of team sports.
There is no "I in "Team." The cliche is true. Self-
lessness wins games; it is a characteristic of the
most successful athletes. It is a characteristic not
possessed by many of our local greats. We have all
heard the stories and read the news reports of our
star athletes having their way with parties, women
and alcohol, despite having a responsibility to their
teams, clubs and their countries.
However, the problem does not only lie with the
athletes themselves. In a newspaper article this week,
Fazeer Mohammed highlighted Brian Lewis comment
that the Trinidadian population supports events,
not sport. He made reference to the behaviour of
the fans who continued to party despite the loss,
when they should have been congratulating the
women, trying to uplift their despondent spirits and
encourage them to move forward, continuing their
development. But we can expect nothing more from
such fans when there are two "I s" in Trinidad. Fans
come for the party, to enjoy themselves, and not to
truly support sport, our athletes and their respective
It is therefore no wonder that we saw glimpses
of "I," of selfishness, during the times that mattered
in the T&T/Ecuador match. Our young athletes have
no role models of selfless team players in the likes
of some "heroes" who have gone before them. Nor
do they have good examples and support from selfless
fans, who would cheer, console, celebrate and be
present with them on every occasion. Rather, they
draw superficiality and "I" from womanisers, and
liming bandwagonists indiscreetly posing as "fans."
On at least two occasions in the match, there were
three T&T players against just the Ecuadoran goal-
keeper and one defender. However, our player with
the ball held on to it too long, and failed to pass it
to the other free players who both had a clear shot
at goal. One may argue that it was a lack of experience
playing at that level, or anxiety, that contributed to
those missed opportunities. While I agree that those
factors were probably present, it cannot be overlooked
that the glory that would come from scoring that
ultimate goal was prominent in our players minds.
Selfishness was certainly a factor that contributed
to the lack of T&T goals in that game.
Team sport is deeper than talent, than physical
fitness, than mental toughness. Athletes who can
transcend those characteristics and acquire a sense
of selflessness for the greater good of the team are
truly successful. Don t let the sermonic statement
deter you. Michael Jordan is one of the most suc-
cessful athletes in sport, and one of the most self-
Indeed, his selfless nature and its relationship to
his success have been the topics of articles. Several
sports writers have commented on the fact that
Michael Jordan started winning MVPs when he began
focusing more on his team, and what he could con-
tribute to it. Lionel Messi, while he is the Michael
Jordan of football, cannot carry a team to victory
on his own, as was demonstrated in the most recent
World Cup. Star players need a supportive team to
succeed, and without that team, failure is inevitable.
The whole is much larger than just the sum of its
Coaches play a pivotal role in creating team players.
In Michael Jordan s case, it was coach Phil Jackson
of the Chicago Bulls, whose foundational philosophy
was the selfless ideal of teamwork, and who took the
Bulls to three successive NBA victories in 1991-1993.
Coach Jackson believed in a "heightened group con-
sciousness" and attributed the Bulls domination to
"the power of oneness instead of the power of one,
which transcended the divisive forces of the ego."
Surrendering the me for the we
Our young athletes have no role
models of selfless team players in
the likes of some "heroes" who
have gone before them. Nor do
they have good examples and
support from selfless fans, who
would cheer, console, celebrate and
be present with them on every
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