Saturday, December 29, 2007

Life Lessons From... Futsal

Don't interpret too deeply. I just Googled 'soccer'.

All right, so the idea for this post came from Chern Lye's 'Life Lessons I Learnt Playing Counter-Strike Source', which in turn was inspired by a popular online article '7 Life Lessons I Learnt Playing Halo'.

And since I dare not boast of any extensive gaming experience on the World Wide Web, let us instead talk about something more down-to-earth, more humanly, more, more...

PRIMITIVE! Ah, yes. Futsal.

The much-hallowed game of 10 sweaty guys simultaneously trying to put a ball into a goal as often as possible, in as many ways as possible. A game I've been playing almost every Sunday for the past 3 years, sometimes even twice on the Lord's Day itself.

Hit it, monkeys!

Life Lesson #1: Sometimes you need to pass the ball backwards in order to move it forward.

How true! So often I've been guilty of getting the ball, searching in vain for someone open in front to give it to, and try desperately to dribble past the entire defence in hope that a scoring chance would magically appear. Of course, almost every time the ball ends up with the opposition.

But lo and behold! A simple backpass, and immediately oodles of space open up. Players start running here and there into position, the opposition fidgets nervously to stick to them, and the guy with the ball can take his time in picking out a great pass.

Just as in life, many times we keep our eyes only on the things and people ahead, trying to keep up with them. And frustratingly fail over and over. When this happens, often it takes just a backpass to open up your mind. You see new options and perspectives, missed when you were focused solely on dribbling past players one by one.

Life Lesson #2: Passers beat dribblers.

It's happened too many times to be coincidential: Pit a team of 5 mediocre players who pass the ball well against a team of 5 skillful but one-man-show players, and the 5 mediocre players will win almost every time.

And unfortunately, life is a team sport. No matter how fast you can run, or how silkily you can weave the ball through everyone else's legs, there is only so much you can do on your own. A pass is the shortest distance from one end of the field to another.

So pass the ball. Even if the other guy is a mediocre player. He just might slip it back to you.

Life Lesson #3: But there are times to go for glory, too. Decide quickly.

So many times I find myself with the ball, wondering, " Who can I pass it to?". Only when the ball has been snatched away due to hesitation do I realise that I was actually close enough to shoot.

At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whether you passed or kept the ball for yourself. What matters is that you make the choice quickly. Maybe your teammate will screw up your pass. Maybe your shot will end up as a hilarious miskick. But it sure beats losing the ball before you figured out what to do with it.

Life Lesson #4: People can tell if you really, really want the ball.

I used to play solely as a goalkeeper in high school. On those rare occassions I played outfield, I would naturally fancy myself as a lone striker upfront. However, it dawned upon me that no one would pass the ball to me. No matter how clear I was, they would keep dribbling and look for someone else to pass to.

I could argue that it was because my friends knew I was actually a terrible striker. But strangely, players I was playing with for the first time reacted in the same way.

Eventually, I discovered that I never really wanted the ball in the first place. I was content to stand aside and watch the others do all the hard work, blaming them for any shortcomings. Deep down, whenever they had the chance to pass the ball to me, I was really thinking, "No! No! Don't pass it to me! Please!"

So you see, people know if you're worth the ball. Real goal-getters scream at the top of their lungs and wave madly.

Life Lesson #5: No one remembers who played best. They only remember which team won.

I used to track and compare my weekly personal goalscoring count. At the end of every match, the quality of the game was measured by how well I'd played.

Then one week came, when I scored a grand total of zero goals. Hanging my head dejectedly, I sighed to my friend.

"What's wrong?"

"Duh!" I replied. "I didn't score a single goal."

"Oh, really?"

What? He didn't realise it? Didn't he and everyone else cheer for every goal? How could he have not realise that I didn't score?

But it was the truth. Many times we amass our personal trophies and pedestals, expecting others to lavish us with praise. However, as the title goes, no one remembers the best player. They only remember the best results. Praise is good, but let it not be the single motivator of your life. The best players celebrate when they extend a foot to poke the ball into the net, not when they dribble past 3 players, swirl and hit the post.

...And we're done! The start of a highly marketable series, perhaps?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

FINALLY! Writer's Block

Off the record, I would hereby like to publicly state that...


I have, in fact, been alive and creaking - as scheduled - four days after my Langkawi escapade.

It has been so, so long since I've written, however.

Written anything that isn't a branding proposal, project timeline, website copy, ad copy or VBS drama. No prizes for guessing my favourite pet project of the past month.

Oh yes...VBS drama was fantastic, utterly fantastic. Believe me, I've never felt so proud of anyone in my life before. Even more so than last year, this year's was a truly by-God's-grace affair. Under-staffed, under-talented, over-rated, over-scripted, expectations galore. You name it, the brilliant Inter class conquered it! Even my own working schedule, where I was allowed only 3 half-days. Meaning I would be there from 9am-9.30am for praise and worship, drive to office from 9.30am-10am, work from 10am-1pm, drive back to church from 1pm-1.30pm, rehearse with the monke..oops, children from 1.30pm-3.30pm, cendol-ise from 3.30pm-4.30pm, drive back to office from 4.30pm-7 something. WAH. LAU. WEH!

Though all seemed doom and gloom for the 3 days of rehearsals, with our main man Clement still doubtful about his lines, everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - was pumped up on steroids on the real day. Those who couldn't sing sang, those who couldn't dance danced, those who couldn't act...well, they looked cute trying. Even two girls playing medics, who stood out to Ju Liang and myself as being terribly uninspired, played their roles with more gusto than I could've mustered myself. Pity they forgot their first aid kits.

Here's to you, Inter Class VBS 2007!

And oh yeah...the Special October Feature.

You know what? Coming soon. =p

When I find the time, AND the resolve.