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Patience is a Virtue, in Sports too

Sunday, May 6, 2018

It may be a cliché, but there is a whole lot of truth behind the saying “Patience is a virtue”. We can remember this line from way back as it’s one of those that has stuck with us but maybe not always been a favourite. Patience is a key aspect of running any kind of business. In this column we talk sport of course, and the figures are there to prove exactly how big a business is sport. The estimates on how massive the sports industry is, varies by source, but it’s commonly considered to be more than US$500 billion, with some estimates running up to $1.3 trillion! One thing though, those figures did not skyrocket overnight or over six months.

Sport in T&T is forever going through a transitional period. It has become common over the years, almost every year, to hear the heads of sporting organisations on record as saying, “We are going through a transitional period now. We are in a rebuilding process.” Just do a google search and you can see how many different press statements will pop up from over less than a three-year period.” So the question we must ask is exactly how often must we review and enter transition. Perhaps, we do it too often here? And why? Could it be that we run out of patience because success doesn’t come sooner than later and by the time we fail after one year, we’re ready to make changes without properly assessing what is in front of us? We tend to prefer the quick fix approach. I do note as well that we also have organisations which stick with what’s in place no matter how bleak things appear to the wider public.

It takes time to build a successful business. As is always the case, it starts with being patient and committed to everything we do to achieve excellence. Let’s take a look at the Germans in football. Classic example! The reigning World champions were not happy with their results fourteen years ago. “In 2004, German football was down. We took decisive steps,” Joachim Löw said after taking his country to the summit of world football two years ago in Brazil.”We said, ‘We have to invest more in the education so we are technically better.’ This is the result of that work.

A combined task force decided Bundesliga clubs must invest in a youth academy or be refused a top-flight licence as of 2001.

The German approach was simple: you need to spend time in the classroom if you’re to get time on the pitch. Better education in academic terms not only sets up those who don’t make the grade for a life after football but also gives those who do greater skills and opportunities. Understanding tactics and advice offered by coaches and backroom staff, processing information quickly and — crucially — decision-making are all enhanced by using the brain in the classroom. “We give players the best chance to be a footballer but we give them two educations here,”Freiburg coach Christian Streich told The Guardian in 2013.

The Germans also emphasised more on coaching development during that period. This took close to ten years before success was realised.

An organisation that is growing and hopes to sustain that growth, like we all want T&T, needs a set of strategies to guide its programme development, build a solid financial foundation, and prepare for challenges that lie ahead. In other words, it needs a strategic plan. Simply put, a strategic plan is a vision of your organization’s future and the basic steps required to achieve that future. A good plan should include goals and objectives, desired outcomes, metrics for measuring your progress, timelines, and budgets. We’ve heard it many times but the execution and yes, patience, is the key.

How far out should we plan? Not too many years ago, the typical strategic plan looked out five years or more. Today, many consultants caution against planning more than two years out. I would encourage one to do what makes sense for them. It is important to always note that truly effective strategic planning requires equal measures of leadership, commitment, patience, trust, and the participation of many stakeholders. Beyond that, if you can remember to be rigorously honest about your organization’s strengths and weaknesses; include a sufficient amount of implementation detail; and strike a balance between ambition and realism, your chances of success are excellent. Take time T&T but remember time is precious and the clock is running.


Shaun Fuentes is a media trainer, coaching athletes how to present themselves before cameras and how to handle the microphone. He was a FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. He also serves as a CONCACAF Events Media operations officer.


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