“Teamwork!” groaned Freddy. “Old Archibald goes on and on about it, as if we’d suddenly go top in the league just by passing the ball around a bit more!”
Alistair and his mates were loafing disconsolately around the sports hall. They had just lost their last game, a match against their local rivals, which pretty much topped off a rubbish start to the season. Played four lost three, drawn one. It was a shocker.
“It’s not teamwork we need,” complained Tom, “it’s talent. Jacobs is useless in goal and our defence leaks like a sieve. Come on Alistair; as Captain surely you should be leading by example. Show some Blue Footprints! Take control!”
“Yeah,” agreed Freddy, “Call an emergency team meeting. Tell them if they don’t shape up, you’ll drop the lot of them!”
“Just because I am Captain, I can’t just use Blue Footprints to go stamping round, barking orders! That’s using Blue Footprints because you are angry not because it is right. And in any case, it wouldn’t work.” responded Alistair. “No, Archibald is right- we can’t change the players we’ve got. What we need is some team spirit, some sense of purpose and playing for each other rather than as a bunch of individuals.”
“What, like Spain rather than England?”
“Exactly” replied Alistair. “We need to become a team like Spain. Right. That’s what we’ll do first. We’ll find out what makes Spain play so brilliantly. OK, let’s all Google Spanish Football this weekend. Freddy, ask your uncle Rob- he’s an ex-pro Footballer. Tom, download some clips of Spain playing OK? I’ll research their tactics and training methods.”
One thing Alistair did well was recognise the different strengths people had in the team. He was good, using Yellow Footprints, like that as a leader.
When they reconvened, everyone had something to contribute. Tom had clips that showed how Spain broke down defences, and worked for each other when the ball was lost. Rob’s uncle said the key was working hard off the ball- getting into space, working in triangles.
“That’s what we do in Netball,” commented Milly as she overheard their conversation. “It’s all about movement off the ball because you are not allowed to run when you’ve GOT the ball.”
“Netball!” sneered Tom scornfully. “You think we have anything to learn from you girls?”
“No, she’s right!” mused Alistair thoughtfully, “She is exactly right! All the Spanish players practice netball because it forces them to learn to move, to work for each other, to work in triangles and not go it alone! Milly, can you come to our next practice and show us how to play Netball?”
So over the next week, Milly pitched up to all their training sessions. They started each one with twenty minutes netball. Two of the lads thought this girly and didn’t bother turning up. Now that was a time to use Blue Footprints, and Alistair dropped them instantly. The rest got over their pride and learned from the girls. Amazingly, when they came to their football games after playing Netball, they played totally differently. It was sport with Yellow Footprints not Green; sport where the aim was to always be in the right place for others, where the work was in moving into space rather than trying to score yourself and where they really did start to work as a team.
“Well,” said a gnarled Scottish voice from the sidelines at the end of one practice. “Who taught you lot to play with Yellow Footprints then?”
“Errr, it was the, errr,...... the girls Mr Archibald.”