At the end of this month, the two major finals in men’s European club football will be played by four teams all of which are based in England. The Europa League final will be played between Chelsea and Arsenal, and the Champions League final will be played between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. Football is very popular in the UK, so, naturally, the amount of English teams in European finals is something that many people in England are very happy about. In fact, there are officially 92 professional football teams in the English league, but every one of them is a failure.
Admittedly, many teams have won many trophies and have long distinguished histories doing so. Liverpool have won 5 European Cups, Manchester United have won the most premiership titles, and Manchester City have just won the premiership for the second year in a row. So if winning trophies is not the criteria for success, what is? Not the values imposed on them by other people, clubs or football associations. In fact, it is the clubs’ mission statements, their foundation and constitution, their reason for being, that say what the club is for and what defines their success.
Every club, when it was formed, agreed what it was for and wrote that down. Many clubs were started by church groups, schools, or company workers or groups of men that met in pubs.
Nearly all were created for the specific purpose that the people who live in that area could play organised sport, so that their health, mental and physical and personal wellbeing would be improved. Winning trophies or getting promoted were just welcome benefits of that.
In the UK, Manchester United was originally called Newton Heath and were founded by the local railway workers.
Sunderland were founded so that the teachers of the area had an outlet beyond the classroom.
Manchester City was founded by St Mark’s Church in West Gorton to curb violence, alcoholism and provide new activities in a high unemployment area.
Tottenham Hotspur was founded by school boys. However, it started with the help of the local YMCA and All Hallows Church, so that they could continue to play sport after the cricket season finished.
Arsenal, was founded in Woolwich, east London, by workers from the local munitions factory.
In Italy, Genoa C.F.C. was started by British people living in the city. C.F.C. stands for Cricket and Football Club. It was originally a cricket and athletics club. Football came second.
Juventus was founded by school children from Massimo D’Azeglio Lyceum school in Turin.
Similar to Juventus, Valletta was founded by local children.
So according to the values written down at the foundation of those clubs, on the hearts of those clubs, that define the club’s souls, every one of them no longer does the very thing that they were created for.
What good, then, is it for a team, club or person to have gained so much, but not carry out one’s passions, true desire, and to have lost or ruined their very selves?’
So much so, that if every one of these clubs were to somehow go bankrupt or into administration, then end up at the bottom of the league, losing all of their highly paid players, that they were forced to recruit players only from the local area, then they would finally succeed. In fact, if they stuck to their core values, then the winning of trophies and having high salaries again would be a pleasant side effect of doing something for the sake of doing it.
Part of them would have to die, so that they could live. They would have to lose their winning ambitions, lose that life, so that they could save their very selves.
And so it is with us. Maybe we can spend a bit of time just thinking about for what reason we were formed, what is written on our hearts and what makes us who we are. What do we desire doing, just for sake of doing? And then by doing that, we can live out our lives happy to know that we are truly at our best.