Living in the UAE we are blessed with opportunities to see sport at the highest levels whether it be the F1, the Mubadala Tennis tournament, the HSBC Golf tournament, the Rugby Sevens, the Football Club World Cup and many more. I love watching the pros and comparing them with each other and to myself. Although the gap is significant, it does help me to keep aspiring to better performances. We can also follow sport from around the world. This weekend many of us may have watched the FA Cup third round.
This competition began in November 1871 and after 13 matches, Wanderers were crowned the first champions after winning the final at Kennington Oval on the 16th March 1872. It grew and evolved into the competition we now know and love with the final taking place at Wembley. The first final at Wembley was between Bolton and West Ham, where Bolton were the victors with a 2-0 win. Another interesting fact is that Arsenal have won it more times than any other team and the player who has won more FA Cup finals than any other is Ashley Cole, who has won it 7 times (3 times with Arsenal and 4 times with Chelsea).
What I love about the FA Cup is that it is a chance for lower-level teams to compete against the giants of the league. These smaller clubs don’t have huge budgets and often have part-time players who have to have a second income to make ends meet. The competition is full of excitement because of this. For players, it is often described as their opportunity – their moment. It is a chance to put themselves in the shop window and hopefully be spotted and recognised by larger clubs that may take an interest in them – a potential career and life changing moment. But more importantly, players often love this competition because it is their chance to pitch themselves against the best of the best. It is a chance to upset the normal order of things and have a moment in time that you can truly say you did your best. It is high risk as well. Putting yourself out there, centre stage, for all to see, warts and all. Mistakes will be made, and others will notice them and as passions run high in football they may not be easily forgotten or forgiven.
This weekend teams like Kidderminster, Cambridge United and Borehamwood really did seize the day. They took on the might of teams far greater in wealth and talent and created an upset. They have another day and another chance to go further. For these teams success creates opportunity for more success.
My question is, ‘Why wait for our own FA Cup moment?’ In our community can we look to be the best versions of ourselves each and every day. Can we look for success in our day and build on that for tomorrow and the next day. And unlike the FA Cup, can we look kindly on mistakes and allow ourselves and our students to learn from them and grow, rather than be reminded and haunted by them. In these strange times where we are all being asked to adapt and change to help keep each other safe, can we look for the positives in each of our days. Let us not leave it to one moment of chance but seize the good in each and every day to be the best versions of ourselves.