"It just takes all your best. If you do your best, with what you have,you’re closer to being better"
Our second week on the podcast we welcomed my former college teammate and captain Matheus Bachi. Matheus is currently an Assistant Coach for the Brazil Seleção – arguably the most famous football team in the world. He joined the staff in the qualifying stages for the Russia World Cup in 2018 where they reached the quarter-finals. Most recently, he was part of the coaching staff as
Brazil won the 2019 Copa América defeating Peru 3-1 in the final in July.
Matheus explained how when he joined the staff along with Manager Tite and a number of other staff members, the squad was in one of the worst runs in their history. Humiliated at their home World Cup and now facing a great uphill battle to even qualify for Russia, Matheus and the other staff had to come in and have an instant impact.
Trust and Honesty
“This resilience and the preparation, and the belief, not just in the coaching staff, but a belief in the work ethic that we were having, the players were having and all the staff.
It’s about anything you do, if you do it with your heart, if you are honest with the guy beside you, you’re one step closer to doing something good. So if you have good people doing their best and treating each other like equals, and helping each other that’s what makes everybody better”
There was a real breakdown in trust under the previous regime. The coaches immediately set upon building their relationships with the players, and therefore the trust. They endeavoured to always be honest with the players, in the good moments and the tough, they ensured full preparation for every situation, and to prove a full commitment to all of the players in the squad. In their first competitive international under the new regime, Brazil made history breaking a 33-year-old hoodoo hanging over the Seleçao of not having won in the high-altitude Ecuadorian capital of Quito.
Matheus explained that the players were crying out for knowledge, and to believe in the staff and each other. By planning and preparing extensively, and bringing honesty to selection conversations based upon form and to tactical decisions based upon game situation, this level of trust and good feeling grew exponentially throughout the opening months of the regime.
Feel the privilege and commit to the team
“They understood that if they’re not playing, they’re practising. So if they are already there then they’re privileged. How many players do we have in Brazil? How many of them would like to be in your position now? So, if you’re here then you have to be doing your best. And that was something that we really coped with and got help from them. If you go back to the World Cup and check the subs from the games, the guy that came in made a difference.”
Playing for your national team is quite obviously a proud occasion. To be in the Brazil squad for a World Cup, you are one of 23 players out of a football-fanatic nation of over 214 million people (2019). Of those 23 players, only 11 are on the field at one time, with up to 14 involved actively on the pitch in each game, leaving at least 9 unused. To be successful in a tournament environment every single member of the playing squad and support staff must be deeply committed to each other and to the cause.
Matheus and I experienced this level of commitment in 2013 as our Carson-Newman University Men’s Soccer team produced a magnificent run to the National Championship game, narrowly missing out 2-1 in a controversial game. We had squad members who travelled to each game, but never touched the field. They understood their role to be ready to play if called upon, and to ensure in practice that the players who were typically involved were ready.
Controlling your ego and working towards a cause larger than yourself is something that all managers strive for, but not all are able to facilitate this environment. Matheus explained proudly how all 23 players in Russia were fully committed to the cause, to be ready to play, and to ensure everyone around them was ready.
Matheus provided a fascinating insight into the Brazil Seleção, and finished the podcast with an absolute dynamite nugget:
“It just takes all your best. If you do your best, with what you have, you’re closer to being better. And that’s a daily, daily job. “
I’ve had so many comments from clients and listeners that this quote inspired a new perspective in their performances.
Check out the full podcast for more on their journey to the World Cup and their time in Russia.
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