Football, as we know, can be an interesting but a killer game. A lot of people have suffered premature death as a result of poor and disappointing performances of their clubs. Some people did not bother to give up but have to bear with their clubs, managing and suffering losses with them. At times, they may get rewarded by some wonderful seasons’ performances, where their clubs come up as the best.
In my school days, I belonged to the Youngsters Football Club. We had an age long tradition of playing to the admiration of all the people. There were seasons we couldn’t make it to the top of the league table. Most of our supporters left us and joined our opponents. Our coach was a very good man. His attitude of never-quit-early made some of us to vow never to disappoint again. Sometimes while in the field of play, our opponents will be scoring goals against our team, yet in his usual manner, he will be encouraging us, “Don’t give up on it, we’ll surely win the match!” His encouraging attitude saw us through many winning matches, and at the end, we toppled our league table for many consecutive seasons, and made it to finish line. We came up the best.
As I was reflecting on the ups and downs of our football outings, I realized that there are some valuable lessons that can be learned. The Youngsters were among the losers. But that did not keep away us from doing our best and becoming the champions. There are many examples of people who overcome their pasts and made it to finish line. In the Bible, there was a man named Saul, who later became the apostle Paul (Acts 9; 1 Timothy 1:12-15). His past was bad news, yet he was able to overcome it with better testimonies. The Corinthian people had been involved in many ugly and wicked practices, yet they came up later to become part of God’s household (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Peter denied Jesus three times, yet his past could not stop him from being a great preacher who preached a wonderful Pentecost Sermon that brought so many people into God’s kingdom (Matthew 26; 75; Acts 2). Though, your past may have been messed up, it is not a good reason for you to quit living. Your past should not ruin the rest of your life. Your past does not have to determine your future. You can start right now and do what you want to do with the rest of your life, and resolve to serve God every day.
You should also remember that what other people think of you is not nearly as important as what you think of yourself or what God thinks of you. After our team, the Youngsters, lost to some clubs that are made up of inexperienced players, no one ever thought that we could win any more matches. We were written off and every sports analyst voted us as the team that would finish last or next to the last in our group. We did not fall to those predictions, we were not intimidated, rather we made it to the top! When David volunteered to fight against Goliath, he had to face skepticism and discouragement from his brother Eliab and King Saul (I Samuel 17:28; 17:33). When people think about us in an unkind manner, we still need to do what is right (I Peter 4:3, 4). What they think is not nearly as important as what God thinks of us.
Having a dream is a great way to reaching your set goals. It is true that a lot of people did not give us a chance, yet the Youngsters club had a dream. A team without a dream will not go far. A Church without a dream will not go far. A businessman without a dream will not go far. A Christian without a dream will not go far. Dream of what you can do in life, and do not set any limits to those dreams. It is a pity that so many people, who had a dream, are the fearful types who could not act on their dreams. Merely having a dream will not profit you or anyone else. You must have the courage to act on your dreams to make them come true. Just like the Youngsters Football Club acted on their dream to win their matches and come up the best, we need to act on our dreams in everything that we do. It will be of great benefit to you if you will begin today by preparing yourself to accomplish your dreams.
However, do not forget to remain active on your job. Do not be distracted by past successes or the present failure. When success comes, enjoy it and then get ready to move up to what is next. Always remember to do the same whenever you fail. Like the Youngsters, on the night they clinched the Winners’ Cup with a victory over their opponents, they celebrated, but the next day they turned their attention to the next opponent in the Upper Series. The Youngsters did not settle with the past, they were not stuck lamenting over their failures or celebrating (without end) over their successes, rather they moved on attending to what is ahead. There are times in a man’s life when he needs to move on to what is next. Paul said in Philippians 3:13 that he lived his life by “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead”. Despite past failures or successes, we need to be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8), and be zealous of good words (Titus 2:14).
In conclusion, I want to state that during the closing days of the season, there were a lot of Youngsters’ supporters doing unethical things. Having been a Youngsters’ player and supporter for many years, I discovered that we lost many of our supporters to our opponents because we failed to deliver in many occasions. I was glad that so many people love the Youngsters, but when they fail to win matches as they ought to, these supporters showed them their backs. Do you see the lesson in that? Some people will be by your side when things are going well, but cannot be found when adversity knocks on your door. Choose your friends carefully and wisely too.
However, it is true that the Youngsters did not win the Upper Series before the club was disbanded in 1991, yet, I am still proud of them. It looked too simple and insignificant, yet I appreciate these lessons that we can learn from the failures and successes of the Youngsters Football Club.