So after Holland upset Spain in their group B opener, lots of people (actually it was just one person) told me to write an article similar to my David Moyes and Jose Mourinho articles … discussing lessons that could be learned from the Spanish loss. But I did not write anything because to me there was really no lesson to be learned. It was just one game and you can’t really learn much about a soccer team or nation with just one game …
That’s what I thought until I watched the Ivory Coast versus Japan game and then contrary to the above, decided to write an article titled What We Can Learn From The Japanese Game.
In that game Ivory Coast inspired by Drogba came from 1 goal behind and headed 2 quick goals past the Japanese defense in the space of less than 2 minutes to win the game. But what I learned had nothing to do with the action of the field, it had nothing to do with the way Drogba inspired Ivory Coast without actually scoring, it had nothing to do with the way Honda roared with passion after sending a rocket to the back of the net or the great way both teams battles. In fact it has nothing to do with the any of the players on the field. It has to do with the Japanese supporters off the pitch.
Supporters who after the loss, did what no other country supporters do at World Cups… they bent down with their blue trash bags and began cleaning the litter off the ground and into their bags.
But this is not the first time Japan has done something like this. Time and time and again they have been known to be respectful to themselves and their surroundings. And that respect has somehow transcended from beyond the Japanese classrooms/homes and into every aspect of Japanese life. Even in a foreign land miles away from home the Japanese are consistent with their attitude.
It’s not like we don’t teach respect in Nigeria, we do, but somehow our way of flogging/yelling at kids to submission is not working. It does not transcend to other aspects of life beyond NYSC camps and classrooms, in fact it virtually disappears.
Maybe we can learn something from the Japanese … that even in a loss while other countries are complaining (including myself) they instead ensure that they are respecting their surroundings. That is powerful and that is something worth emulating. Go Blue