Learning about Teamwork from the World Cup!

At the height of the World Cup frenzy, it seemed appropriate to reflect on that most important human ability, that of collaborating to mutual benefit with colleagues, or like minded others, to work together as a team.
Now I have to confess that I am not a great football fan, and the only time I ever view a match is about once every 4 years when the World Cup is happening and I am invited to view a match with friends.  However, this time, I have been drawn into the whole competition and actually watched a couple of games completely on my own!  What has drawn me in is the discovery of what to me is new concept: ‘Player Assist’.   This is a relatively new league table that ranks the players who have helped others to achieve a result (excuse the lack of technical football terms here, this is all new to me)!  The results of this new table show that the top 3 players are all from the same club, Manchester City, and apparently this team is at the top of the Premier League Table.  What lessons can be drawn from this?
I have run many, many training sessions focused on good team work, and in every training programme there has come a point when individuals in the team begin to realise that they can achieve much more together than they can do as a group of individuals.  There is a very real tangible shift that can be observed when this realisation dawns.  As a coach of teams, you spend a lot of time conducting very detailed and focused observations of the group.  You record what is said or done by individuals, and the results of that action. It is therefore not difficult to see that an improvement in the team’s results is directly connected to the time when the group begin to actively work together, supporting and building on ideas rather than focusing on individual input.  Watching a team of football players on a field, I am impressed with their observation skills.  Each player seems to be aware of where the other team members are, and obviously they have practised how to play to each others’ strengths.
So whilst you are watching some of these expert teams in action, reflect on what you know of your team’s strengths.  Can you anticipate how they would respond to a task you might pass their way?  How can you support and assist them to reach their goal?
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