Monday, 13 June 2016

Never, ever, ever give up!

Last night - make that early this morning - Enoch and I got a life-lesson.

It was embedded in the beautiful game.   Enoch and I were watching die Mannschaft play their opening game against a plucky Ukranian team.   The great English player Gary Linekar put it nicely: "Football is a simple game.  Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win." 

Though the last decade or so has been the reign of Spain, we did see the truth of Linekar's comment yesterday.  The Germans trooped off the field with a 2-nil victory (better than the 2-1 that Enoch and I had predicted) and have kept their record intact of never losing an opening game in the European championships.  Never.

The Germans were dominant throughout the game.  But they were not indomitable.  Manuel Neuer, their goalie made some fine saves.  The Ukranians did not quite rain shots at the German goal, but the score line could have been very different if even one of the goals had gone in.  The young German team (the youngest in this year's tournament) has actually lost 3 of their last 5 games.  But when it comes to tournament play, the Germans seem to be in a different zone altogether.

And yet, early this morning (for us watchers in India at least) it came so close.  Down to centimeters actually.

Take a look at this:

Germany were 1:0 up, but a posse of Ukrainian players were rampant outside the German goal.   A lovely cross and their unmarked star forward pokes the ball past Manfred Neuer, but instead of going into the goal, its the German defender Jerome Boateng who blocks the ball with his body.  And then he sees that the ball still has momentum and is still headed into the goal.  Boateng is falling backwards, but manages to hoist himself up and kick the ball away, just centimeters before it was to cross the line.  Desperate stuff.

Not pretty at all.  But what spirit, what fight!  At the end of the match, we can say that Boateng's effort was the margin between victory and defeat.

Here is how he looked as he crashed into the back of his own goal net.

Life lesson?

Never give up.  Never.  Ever.

It is said that the then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill visited his old school Harrow on the 29th of October 1941, at the height of the second world war.  When he was invited to address the students, Churchill stood before the students and said:

"Never, ever. ever. ever. ever. ever, give up.  Never give up.  Never give up.  Never give up."

Thank you Jerome for showing that to Enoch and me.  Whatever Germany's football prowess may be, it is actions like Jerome's - at its point of weakness - which contribute to the on-going story of success.

What about you and me?  How many times we are tempted to throw in the towel.  To say "what's the use?" To fade quietly away and let someone else deal with the mess we face.

Life lesson:  Never give up.  Never.

The Apostle Paul echoes this when he says: To this end I strenously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me." (Col. 1.26).

Never give up.

Lets look at that again:

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