I am writing from Ireland at the moment. Preparing for our match against ‘Die Germans’ on Saturday 6th of April, 15:00BST. Please tune in to watch the match on the link: Ireland vs Germany. Or watch watch live on German TV channel ZDF. We have been preparing this week and there is good spirits in the camp. We are excited to play Germany but are also realistic about what kind of team they are. In their last few games they have scored 40 goals and allowed zero….That is a tough opponent.
I have been having a hard time finding the right approach to this game. 3 of my club teammates from SC Frieburg, Melanie Lepolz, Sara Dabritz, and Laura Benkarth, play on the German team. I want to go back to my club with my head held high. I don’t want to go back to my club with a result like Russia had against Germany…9-0. In one sense I want to feel confident and believe in the ability of our team to somehow over come this formidable opponent. On the other hand I do feel that I do need to be realistic. I have been rustling with the question what is success? What is the relationship between winning and success? Could I be happy with a 0-0 tie or a 1-1 tie? It is not winning but to be honest I think I could be very happy with that. But would I/could I be happy with a 1-0, 2-0, or 3-0 loss? It is a better result than a lot of other teams have had but I am not sure. I don’t know if I can go into a match and think to myself, ‘If we lose by less than 3-0 than I can be happy’.
I was chatting with my boyfriend and a friend about my dilemma and they reminded me about the great coach and teacher John Wooden. John Wooden was a legendary basketball coach in the US for UCLA. He won more trophies than anyone else in college basketball. He saw winning and success as not always one in the same. His definition of success is “peace of mind, attained only through self-satisfaction and knowing you made the effort to do the best that you are capable.” He reminded me that sometimes you can win and not play well which is not necessarily satisfying or success. Sometimes you can play incredibly without winning a game but still your team could have executed the game plan perfectly and played great.
After thinking about John Wooden’s words and watching his really amazing TED TALK (if you have time, its worth a watch) I realized I needed to change my approach. On Saturday when we go out against Germany, instead of focusing so much on the result it is more important to focus on being the best that we can be. In football as in most sports there is so much that is out of your control. Who you play against, calls made by the referees, injuries, decisions by the manager, weather etc…. All you can really control is what you do on the pitch, the effort you give, your preparation. Basically showing the best version of yourself and the best version of your team. That is success.
Professional footballer for SC Freiburg in the German Frauen Bundesliga. Fiona is also a member of the Irish Women’s National Football Team. As well as competing at the highest level in women’s football, Fiona also owns her own soccer school ‘Fiona’s Soccer Camp’.