Lessons from the 2018 FIFA World Cup
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To celebrate England’s success in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and to reflect upon some of the lessons this World Cup has offered.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Lessons from the 2018 FIFA World Cup) and the means to display them.
- Prior to the assembly, recruit two students or members of staff to take part in a keepy-uppy competition. They will each need a football and could wear a football kit if appropriate. You will also need two independent adjudicators and a whistle.
- Optional: you may wish to play the song ‘Three lions (football’s coming home)’, in which case you will also need the means to do so. A version is available on YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJqimlFcJsM (3.55 minutes long)
- Show Slide 1.
The theme of today’s assembly needs no introduction: it’s the 2018 FIFA World Cup! For the last four weeks, the 32 qualifying teams have been competing for the title of football world champions. The first match was between Russia and Saudi Arabia, when the host nation took a cool 5-0 victory. Now, we are all trying to get our breath back after England’s valiant attempt in the semi-final against Croatia, when they lost the match 2-1 in extra time.
- I thought we could stage our own simple version of the World Cup final by hosting a keepy-uppy match between our very own [insert volunteers’ names].
Invite the two pre-arranged volunteers to the front.
In true World Cup style, I want each side of the room to encourage their ‘team’. So, this side [point to the left-hand side of the room] will be cheering for [insert volunteer’s name]. And this side [point to the right-hand side of the room] will be cheering for [insert volunteer’s name]. The winner will be the team that manages the highest number of keepy-uppys.
We have two independent adjudicators to count the number of keepy-uppys. For this team [point to the left], [insert volunteer’s name] will be counting the score. And for this team [point to the right], [insert volunteer’s name] will be counting the score.
Are we all ready? On your marks, get set, go!
A whistle should be blown to start the competition. After both teams have finished, a whistle should be blown to mark the end of the competition.
- What a match! Thank you to our players and to our adjudicators. We can now announce the final score.
Announce the winning team and how many keepy-uppys they managed.
Great! Well done! Let’s give them all a round of applause as they take their seats again.
- That keepy-uppy match brought us all together in a similar way to the World Cup. There was a common humanity that we participated in. We all shouted plenty of encouragement, and there was plenty of involvement from us all. Lots of competitive spirit was shown, along with skill and talent. And, as in the actual World Cup, there was a winning team.
- What a World Cup it has been! It has provided an amazing opportunity for people all around the world to unite in a shared love of what the FIFA president Gianni Infantino described as ‘the most beautiful spectacle in the world’. The initial qualification campaign consisted of 210 countries. The last World Cup final in 2014 was watched by 3.2 billion people worldwide, and even more people are expected to tune in to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup final on Sunday. That’s a lot of people who have been united by the tournament. These people are of all different nationalities, but they are sharing the experience. What a great example of unity and shared humanity that offers us!
- In England itself, there has been a coming together to support the England team.
Show Slide 2.
This image shows fans at a public screening in Hyde Park in London during the England vs Sweden match. Before the tournament began, many commentators suggested that England had little chance of success. Even Gareth Southgate, the England manager, said during the tournament that England still had room for improvement and that the team were not yet ‘the finished article’. Despite this, England went on to reach the semi-final, and the success and resilience that the England team have shown has united the nation.
- To appreciate this fully, it’s helpful to have a little history lesson. The song ‘Three lions (football’s coming home)’ has been popular during the World Cup and provides a helpful overview of what makes England’s success in this World Cup so special. The lyrics ‘it’s coming home’ are a reminder that - according to FIFA - football as we know it today was invented in England in 1863.
Show Slide 3.
Success in the World Cup this year would have meant that the trophy would be brought home to England, the home of football. The lyrics ‘it’s coming home’ also refer to the last time England won the World Cup – in 1966.
Show Slide 4.
Ever since that day, England fans have longed to see England achieve this victory again.
- The song ‘Three lions’ was written as a football anthem for Euro 96 by two comedians, Frank Skinner and David Baddiel (who you might know as the author of The Parent Agency and The Person Controller), and a band called The Lightning Seeds. Euro 96 is a significant tournament because it is the event when a young Gareth Southgate played for England. He was only 25 at the time, and he missed a crucial penalty in the semi-final against Germany, ending England’s hopes of winning the tournament.
Show Slide 5.
These pictures show the moments after Gareth Southgate’s failed attempt. The disappointment that England fans felt after this is shown by this Pizza Hut advert, which was made just months after the missed penalty.
Show Slide 6.
In it, Gareth Southgate wears a paper bag over his head, ashamed to show his face in public.
- Show Slide 7.
The way in which Gareth Southgate has led and managed England in this World Cup is a true success. Rather than be defined by his past failure, Southgate has demonstrated great courage and resilience, showing compassion and humanity as he comforted the Columbian player who had missed his penalty.
- Show Slide 8.
Gareth Southgate’s experience in Euro 96 must mean that England’s success in this World Cup tastes even sweeter for him.
- England now face the match on Saturday to decide whether they will come third or fourth in the tournament, but regardless of the outcome, we can be sure that they have demonstrated success. They have worked together and given their best on the world stage. We can hope for success in their final match, giving their very best one last time. It will be one last opportunity for fans to unite to cheer on their team, and one last chance for the England players to demonstrate their skill and energy.
Time for reflection
Let’s pause for a moment to think about what we can learn from this World Cup.
There is something special about joining with others to enjoy the matches, cheering on our teams and celebrating the skill of the players. But how can we take that sense of community forward? How can we be part of a team, a community, a group? How can we continue to encourage and cheer others on?
Pause to allow time for thought.
Let’s reflect on the example of Gareth Southgate. Despite missing that crucial penalty in 1996, he did not let the experience of failure define him as a person forever.
- What can we learn from this?
- How can we adopt something of his mindset when we experience failure?
- How can we use our experiences of failure to make us stronger, more compassionate and wiser?
Pause to allow time for thought.
Perhaps this World Cup has something to teach us about the value of patience. No one expected this England team to be as successful as they have been. Remember: even Southgate described the team as ‘not the finished article’. Ever since 1966, England fans have been hoping for a repeat of our success at the World Cup. This World Cup has been the most successful for England for a long time, and that has meant the fans needing plenty of patience!
How can we practise the art of patience, where we continue to strive at something even when we don’t see immediate success? Where do we need to exercise patience and resilience?
Pause to allow time for thought.
We pause to thank God for the many nations and individuals who have been part of the World Cup: the players, the managers and also the fans.
The event has united the world. What a wonderful opportunity to remind us that God loves the world he has created.
We pray for peace and unity in the world. May the spirit of celebration and community continue long after the World Cup.
We pray for those moments when failure seems to define us.
Help us to remember the example of Gareth Southgate.
Help us to see beyond the moment.
Help us to believe in the power of resilience and fortitude.
We thank you, God, for the talents of the players.
We thank you for our own talents and gifts.
Help us to find ways to use our abilities for the benefit of others.