Morning Does Not Tell the Day: 10 Life Lessons from Nigeria’s Football Team

Life is a hard-nosed schoolmaster.

It packs our plates with scenarios and paradoxes. Its ultimate aim is to refine the dross, remove the weed, clean the dirt, bleed the engine and make us who we should be. 

At birth we matriculate into this continuing Open University called Life. When we take its innumerable courses and follow its regimented curriculum, we grow into the rounded person we need to be. Progressively, this University, from which we never get to graduate, brings the best out of us.

The African Cup of Nations is the football championship of Africa organized by the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF). The 28th edition took place in South Africa from 19 January to 10 February, 2013.

Nigeria’s senior football team, the Super Eagles, present us with many learning opportunities.

What life throws at us does not really matter as much as the lessons we can glean from them. And as we ‘layer-up’ these invaluable lessons on our journey, we gain new perspective. We receive new insight. We garner ‘cognate’ experience. This hybrid of experiences positively and significantly colours our worldview and influences how we would react, and dictate the decisions we would take, in the future.

Nigeria won the 2013 African Cup of Nations. A fabulous goal from Sunday Mba gave the Super Eagles a 1-0 win over Burkina Faso at Soccer City in Johannesburg. I followed Team Nigeria from the selection of players, to the training camp in Portugal, and to the performance in South Africa. Not many Nigerians gave the national team a chance. Some didn’t even believe they would go beyond the group stages.

But they shocked everyone. 

Here are 10 invaluable lessons Nigeria’s Super Eagles teach us about life:

(1) Never write off anyone. Morning does not always tell the day.

(2) Take a chance on people – at least sometimes, if not always. Coach Stephen took a chance on home-based players. A home-based player – Sunday Mba – scored the decisive goal in the semi-final clash between Nigeria and Cote D’Ivoire. He also scored the first and only goal of the final game against Burkina Faso to hand Nigeria their third Africa Cup of Nations title.

(3) Never judge too early. Give time time.

(4) Pressure produces. Big time.

(5) The human spirit is inexplicably indomitable. And absolutely relentless.

(6) Always communicate defiant optimism. Coach Keshi told the players right from their training camp in Portugal that they would win the Cup. Say what you want to see. You’ll eventually see what you say.

(7) No one can infallibly predict the outcome of your life. You can prove peoples’ postulations abysmally fallacious.

(8) Celebrate people who’ve helped you win; inspire colleagues who’re yet to win. Keshi dedicated the trophy to all his players and all indigenous African coaches.

(9) Make the ‘G’ factor – the God factor – your constant denominator. The team exemplified this in their corporate prayers on and off the pitch.

(10) Success forces cynics, pessimists and haters to bury their heads in shame and change their erroneous beliefs.

Congratulations, Super Eagles – The Champions of Africa!

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