Fair play not just for community and junior sport

With the FIFA World Cup in Russia approaching us, all eyes will be on our Socceroos and the thirty-one other nations striving to be crowned world champions. Stakes are no doubt high and the results and actions of teams will motivate, inspire, frustrate and realistically break many hearts.

We hope to learn much from the strength and determination of the winners who will lift the trophy aloft at the end of the tournament. But we can also learn from the winner of The FIFA Fair Play Trophy, a less famous prize that is also awarded at the event. Many would be unaware that the trophy even exists and is awarded to the team with the best record of fair play during the tournament.

No doubt teams are all striving for the ultimate prize but in the process surely we can give this this award some more attention and celebrate some of the incidents and examples of fair play that can educate us all about the true spirit of sport. Here’s hoping there are many in Russia.

To my mind there are no winners without fair play and there is no sport without fair play. It is in fact the cornerstone of the BIg Issue Community Street Soccer Program and Homeless World Cup campaigns that allows participants to earn respect from themselves and from others in the community. The underlying philosophy of fair play forms the values of the program that subsequently drive the culture that empowers people to turn their lives around.

In fact my greatest achievements having coached at 9 Homeless World Cup campaigns is winning the Fair Play Award with the Street Socceroos on two occasions.  As a team we strive to win every match we compete in but never at the expense of fair play or respect for officials, opponents or team mates. The team that dons the green and gold at this event is in fact a product of the a culture of fair play and respect that exists in weekly programs all across the country.

Fair play is too often an absolute expectation for junior and community sport only. It is time we also expected it and celebrated it at the elite level!

I talk more about the relationship between leadership, values and culture in my presentations through the lens of my sport for development programs and at the Homeless World Cup.