The selection, Portugal and us – Observer
This December 1st comes in handy to talk about the national team. The world cup is not just about football. The one that is now dressed in red and green but that was already blue and white and that has the cross of Christ on its shield. After all, and if we think about it, it is quite a beautiful metaphor for the country we are. Who is moved to hear the anthem and is proud to be Portuguese. With undeniable individual talents, capable of overcoming the greatest obstacles if focused on a defined horizon and well directed, which gain soul when they believe. And in which most of the protagonists play (on the field or in their lives) outside Portugal. But who often lack leadership, the ability to work as a team, ambition and strategy to achieve that common goal. And if it gets lost, that not only within four lines. Or mostly outside of them.
It’s a good exercise for this festive day to think about who the real Portuguese national team is today. Where is it spread around the world. Why is it that the country fails to attract its own, and so many of our youngest, trained in and by our academies, then transport that knowledge and that transformed energy to other places. Why is it that the idea of independence or sovereignty, flag and rivalry (healthy, of course) is exhausted in an Arabian football tournament. Why these people, capable of the greatest acts of pure generosity, are incapable of stopping to reflect on themselves. About what they participated when there is a rumor, about the tactics and the entries on the field, the accurate passes that make possible the “assists” that lead to the goals of our existence. Why does this Portuguese desire run out more and more in the immediate future? And he continues to seek or hope, consciously or not, for his eternal, providential man. Thus a cross between Cristiano Ronaldo and D.Sebastião.
In 1640 the ball was different. The selection too. Whether better, I don’t know. Portuguese, without a doubt. There was a natural leader, that’s for sure. It is a declared external threat to Portugal’s interests. It remains to be seen whether stronger than today. Or if before so just more noticeable. What is certain is that the 40 multiplied, supported a collective will to decide their future and be able to define the rules of the game. Not against each other, but because our beach was never just here. And, not even on purpose, we, the Portuguese, had already been the first Westerners to arrive on the Korean peninsula, to settle in the territory of Ghana or to have the first contact with the inhabitants of what is now Uruguay. What does that add now? For some, too much. For many and more and more, probably nothing. And this thing about patriotism and love for the flag is the same only for a football game.
Extremes aside, the truth is that, between successes and mistakes, not in 90 minutes but in many hours and days, we have been building a soul that is ours. And what is this permanent world championship that can only be won if we enhance the individual and collective value of each one. As in a team that plays to win, using its best assets, which it helps train for the success of the whole, and which has neither time to waste nor resources that it does not know how to leverage. Friendly or a doer, that competitions are only won with a preparation that takes into account present and future needs, capable of foreseeing difficulties and solidifying emotions. That, as so many coaches or decision-makers know, or should know, a winning team that paves the way for successors takes years (decades) to build.
And, by the way, let me go back to the beginning of everything, country included: tell me if a Portugal-Spain doesn’t have a special taste? With a big dome. Wow, of course. Ever.