30 June 2019

There is a famous quote that reads: “Some people think that football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.”

This was said by the legendary Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly and has been paraphrased a million times or more. Whilst the statement my be on the dramatic side, the sentiment that sport is far more than a game certainly rings true.

I was reminded of this keeping up with the Women’s World Cup over the past week or so. Seeing how well the Lionesses are doing isn’t just incredible for the sport, it has a greater meaning too.

For a long time women’s sports have been overlooked. However, this World Cup,the stadiums are full and, whilst there aren’t as many as there are for the men’s football, there are certainly plenty of England flags around the country showing their support.

The tide is turning and it is clearer than ever that support for the women’s teams is building fast. It is easy to see why. The Lionesses have something special – they go far beyond 90 minutes on the pitch.

Our mantra

I remember reading an interview with their coach Phil Neville. In it he said: “We had a camp last year and we set our objectives for the next 12 months, and all I wanted them to say was ‘win the World Cup’.

“But they were thinking much bigger than winning a World Cup, which knocked me in my stride a little bit. We want the Lionesses to have a name that people around the world can relate to…badass women. That was our mantra.” 

It isn’t just about a football game, it’s about making a greater change. About inspiring millions of women and young girls across the world.

This is so important. Not only are these women incredible role models, they are encouraging more girls to take part in sport which is essential. Sport obviously keeps you physically healthier but it also boosts confidence, builds camaraderie and is unrivalled for developing resilience.

At a time when schools are cutting back on physical education lessons and placing less and less value on sport, every focus on encouraging young people into sport is essential. We are meeting young people who are perhaps the first generation who haven’t had the same experiences of sport in school, there is no denying that their softer skills are very different upon entering the workplace.

So for the Lionesses, football is so much more than football. With a purpose like that behind them, there is no wonder  that they are winning over legions of fans every day! There is so much to be said for mindset and belief. 

Pushing boundaries

Muhammad Ali is the greatest example of this, he believed himself to be the greatest long before he actually was. Equally, there is so much to be said for pushing boundaries like this. I remember hearing tennis player Serena Williams saying that she wasn’t the greatest female tennis player, she was the greatest tennis player.

I remember having this exact conversation with Laura Massaro – British squash champion and former World Number One. We spoke of her being the greatest female squash player, but why put that limit on it? Why were we not aiming for her to be the single greatest squash player in the world? 

The Lionesses will play their World Cup semi-final match against the formidable United States team on Tuesday. I would not be surprised to see them sailing through to the final and bringing home the cup.

I have always been a huge believer in belief and mindset, but even more so of goal setting. When you set a goal that is bigger than that immediate achievement you’re aiming for, there is actually very little that can stop you achieving it. For example, if you want to build a million pound business, you need to look at what the bigger goal is behind that. Why do you want to do it? What’s the why? The reason? I want to build a million-pound business so that my family can live the life they dream of. I want to create a million-pound business to deliver the greatest customer service and make it easier for people to achieve their dreams.

The Lionesses don’t just want to win a World Cup, they want to inspire, they want to build a legacy. With that in their arsenal, there is little stopping them.

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