As I write this, my teammates and I are flying down to Guatemala City, preparing for the biggest battle of our lives together so far, the U-17 World Cup Qualifiers. We have trained our bodies for years for this single event. Now it’s time for us to start our mental preparation for these next couple of weeks. Here are my 10 cents:
What if the word impossible didn’t exist to you? What if, as a young child, you were never exposed to such a word or idea, as if it were profanity? It’s quite simple to think about, actually. Some people might say learning that certain things are impossible to the ordinary human being is a loss of innocence as they start to grasp reality. If you ask me, it’s a restriction and limitation of potential. If the idea of impossibility was censored from what we see, what we hear, and what we experience, then we would not hesitate when faced with a challenge. Of course we can only take this so far. People could really get hurt if they start jumping off rocks, Peter Pan style. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t find another way to fly.
What does this have to do with soccer, you ask? Well, I relate this back to all of my missed opportunities. All of those crosses that missed my head by a couple of inches could’ve been the game winning goal. All of those tackles that I came up short with could’ve been the uplifting moment in the game that my teammates needed. All of my opponents shots that could’ve been blocked but weren’t could’ve meant one less point towards their record. Yes, some of those chances were due to my opponent’s skill or a miscommunication between me and my teammates, but there were those moments of doubt that affected the game. The few seconds of thinking “I can’t do this,” or “The keeper is going to get there first and knock my head off in the process,” were those few seconds I could’ve used to win the ball.
One of my favorite speeches is from the movie “Any Given Sunday.” You can find me in the locker room listening to it before every game as I lace up my cleats. Al Pacino states, “The inches we need are everywhere around us. One half a step too late or too early and you don’t quite make it. One half second too slow or too fast, you don’t quite catch it.” He talks about how football is this game of inches. So is soccer. The only way you gain those inches on the tackle or on the breakaway, is through effort and throwing impossibilities out the window along with anything else that might slow you down. And when you run in for that tackle, you commit yourself to it without hesitation, because you know if you go into it with everything you have, you won’t be the one getting hurt. That is when you force the idea of impossibility out of your mind and into your opponents’.
When a player let’s go of her fear of failure on the field it opens a new route to success during the game. Not only is the other team afraid of her but she never forgets the moment that she affected the game in such a way that it turned the whole tempo around. Once knowing that feeling, she will do anything just to touch it again in the next game.
No matter how bad your lungs burn, they will not set fire. No matter how dry your mouth is, you will not die of thirst. No matter how heavy your legs feel, they will not fall off. And no matter how beastly the other goal keeper is, she will not eat you for breakfast, I promise. That means letting go of your mental boundaries and pushing past your physical limits. The only thing left to do is fly.
Morgan Andrews is a junior midfielder at Milford High School in New Hampshire. She also plays for F.C. Stars of Massachusetts. This summer she will play for the New England Mutiny of the WPSL Elite League and will be a part of the the U.S. U-17 team that will attempt to qualify for the U-17 World Cup later this year. Andrews will document her experiences for The Equalizer.
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