It only takes one player with courage to make a difference and affect change.
It only takes one player to stand up and do the right thing. I’m not talking about the first one to do something, like insisting on wearing a mask at all times — even on the pitch — during a pandemic. That player was born with courage; she is always going to do the right thing no matter what. To attempt to coach this quality out of her is pointless.
I’m talking about the second player to support her. I’m talking about the second player to stand up, face her and put on a mask.
Being that second takes an incredible amount of courage.
Soccer is a team sport and requires all its team members to pull together in the same direction. Inevitably, the question of dissent creeps into this argument by way of questioning a player’s “coachability.” Is a player who defiantly takes a stand “coachable?” Surely not, most coaches would say.
But they would be wrong. When a player takes a stand that is the moral and ethical thing to do, one that is supported by science and data, what right does the coach have to suppress that?
She doesn’t. In fact, she has a duty to stand up and be that third person to support her player.
A great coach draws good qualities out from her players, supports and nurtures them. A great coach recognizes that she is not the true leader of her team, but the players who are instilled with bravery and fearlessness, who charge onto a pitch that contains the unknown and untested — armed only with the confidence in their convictions and skills — are the true leaders.
Treasure those players. Support them and they will support each other.
Have the courage to be that third.
There’s a global pandemic raging right now. Take care of yourself and others as you seek to safely play this game we all love. Wear a mask, wash your hands often, practice safe distance by playing the ball and not the player. Be safe and we will all get through this together. The game will go on; make sure you are a part of it.