Tell us a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
Vivid memories of this fateful day are permanently etched in my heart. My team had come a long way into the semi-finals of the district level football championship. “Common guys, you’re almost there; you can do it. Just go out and give your best shot! Don’t stop believing in yourself and don’t give up”. These were the encouraging words of our then coach, Mr. Maurya, just moments before the kick-off whistle.
This was my moment of truth. It was one of the final tests of rigorous training, strict diet and fitness exercise regimen I had been religiously following for many years. As the captain of the ‘Scholar Football Team’, a fierce desire to lead my team into the finals burned inside me. It was no longer about who had practiced more, or trained harder, but who got the adrenaline pumping. There are thousands of set pieces and strategies in football, and even if one becomes adept at implementing a few of these, the mightiest of defences can be penetrated, and that was exactly what we were going to carry out.
After 90 long minutes on the field, under the scorching sun, my body had given up but my heart refused to. A blacksmith was running in my chest, but it was desire that kept me going. All I could hear were some faded distant cheers from the stands, but nothing else mattered anymore. Football at that moment owned me. It wasn’t just a sport anymore; it was much more than that! Despite having a narrow one goal lead as the match neared its end, we ended up conceding two goals in quick succession and that ruined our day.
Life moves recklessly fast and changes destinies within the split of a second. One moment we were all elated, but the next moment our dreams came crashing down. Although the match was lost, I learned some winning lessons of life. This match taught me never to sell anyone short even if you have the upper hand over them. I understood that someone with unflinching determination can rise from the ashes and change the course of events dramatically. It is never about who can perform but about who can persevere. I believe that even though we lost, we gained more than our opponents. Experience they say is the best teacher and this unsettling, yet life-transforming experience has made me learn some important lessons of life.
Finally, football has taught me the importance of leadership and teamwork. One should never give individual accomplishments preference over the team. Talent may win games, but teamwork wins championships. When I lead my team, I realize how much the output can vary when every single member puts in one hundred percent effort into our task. There is a lot more to leadership than simply directing others. A true leader, above all, is someone who can lead by example and has the mettle to stay calm under the unnerving situation, take anything into his stride and emerge a winner in the end, and football has taught me all of these virtues. He must be able to boost the morale and create harmony between each member, as only then can the maximum potential of the team be realized.
The lessons learnt will keep me in good stead as I hope to take on the rigors of the computer science program at The University of California. I love that despite having learnt so much already, there is still much more to be learnt from the world of football.