Euro 2020: The Power of Resilience and Community
Well done, England!
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore how the Euro 2020 tournament has highlighted the importance of resilience and a sense of community.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Euro 2020 - The Power of Resilience and Community) and the means to display them.
- You will also need the following items and preparation for the finger football penalty shoot-out game that is referred to in the ‘Assembly’, Steps 6 to 10:
- Two students or members of staff who have agreed before the assembly to take part. You may wish to have available two football shirts for them to wear or allow them to wear a strip of their choice.
- Two finger football puppets. These are available at https://tinyurl.com/5y279ua7 and should be printed onto thin card.
- A ping-pong ball.
- A table at the front of the assembly hall to act as the pitch. Place green paper on the table if possible.
- A goal made from card. (See https://tinyurl.com/4bnnn26m for some instructions on how to make a simple goal.)
- A student or member of staff to be the referee. You may also wish to have a whistle available.
- A coin to use to flip for heads or tails.
- Show Slide 1.
Welcome the students to the assembly.
- I am sure that the theme of today’s assembly needs no introduction whatsoever: it’s Euro 2020! The first match of the tournament, a month ago, saw Italy win 3-0 over Turkey.
- Euro 2020 was originally scheduled for June and July 2020. However, the Covid pandemic made it impossible to stick to those plans, so the tournament was postponed for a year.
- The UEFA European Football Championship, also called the Euros, first took place in 1960, and has happened every four years since. Euro 2020 is the sixteenth tournament so far.
- Euro 2020 has been unique in that the matches have been played in 11 different countries across Europe rather than in one host nation. The matches have also marked a move towards the easing of lockdown restrictions in many nations, as fans have come together to cheer on the players.
- Well, of course, we know the result now. __________ have been declared the Euro 2020 champions.
As we bask in the afterglow of England’s amazing victory / As we try to recover from England’s defeat (delete as appropriate), I thought that we could stage our own (insert name of school) finger football penalty shoot-out between (insert the names of the two prearranged volunteers).
Invite the two volunteers to the front.
- Are you familiar with the tabletop game of Subbuteo?
Show Slides 2 to 4.
Here we see some children enjoying a Subbuteo tournament. By the looks of their fashion choices, it may well be from 1966, the last time England was victorious in an international football tournament!
Our tournament today is a low-cost version of Subbuteo . . .
We have a pitch and a goal.
Point to the table and place the goal on it.
We have two players.
Give each player a finger football puppet to wear.
We have a referee (with a whistle, if available).
Point to the volunteer referee.
We have a ball.
Place the ping-pong ball on the table.
And we have a coin to flip to decide who goes first.
Ask the two players to choose heads or tails, and then ask the referee to flip the coin to decide who will go first.
- In true Euro 2020 style, I want each side of the assembly hall to encourage their team.
This side (point to the left half of the room): you are all cheering on (insert name).
And this side (point to the right half of the room): you are all cheering on (insert name).
- Ask the players to start playing the finger football penalty shoot-out game.
If a whistle is available, the referee should blow it to start the game. The players should take it in turn to be in goal or take the shot.
- What a match! Thank you to our players (insert names). Thanks also to our referee. We can now announce the final score (announce the winning team and the final score). Great, well done! Let’s give them a round of applause as they return to their seats.
- In a similar way to Euro 2020, that game of finger football penalty shoot-out brought us all together. It’s great to be able to celebrate with others, and to be part of a shared experience. After the challenges of social distancing and lockdown, Euro 2020 has been an important reminder that community and gathering with others provide a real boost to our well-being, regardless of the final score or which team we were supporting. What a great example of unity and shared humanity!
- Euro 2020 has also highlighted the quality of resilience. Faced with the challenge that the pandemic posed, the decision could have been taken to scrap the tournament entirely. Instead, UEFA decided to postpone it rather than cancel it. They worked hard to look at alternatives, and be flexible and adaptable in the face of challenges.
Even when England players Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell were forced to self-isolate, the England team did not let this setback stop them. They continued to train and work hard, and they were soon able to welcome their teammates back to the bench.
- Euro 2020 delivered a particularly sterling example of both resilience and unity when Danish midfielder, Christian Eriksen, collapsed on the pitch on 12 June.
Show Slide 5.
Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest shortly before half-time in Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 game against Finland. As medics attended to him on the pitch, his teammates gathered round in unity to protect their teammate’s privacy. We can see how worried Eriksen’s teammates look. Some of them may be praying for him at this moment.
After Eriksen recovered sufficiently to be taken to hospital for further treatment, his teammates opted to carry on playing the match. They showed real resilience. In a subsequent match between Denmark and Belgium, fans of both sides showed support for Eriksen during an emotional minute’s applause in the tenth minute of the match. Eriksen, of course, wears Denmark’s number 10 shirt. Eriksen himself used social media to encourage and thank his teammates and fans.
Since then, Eriksen has recovered enough to leave hospital and has returned home. He continues to thank fans and his team for their encouragement. And, despite their setback, Denmark made it to the semi-finals, where they certainly made England work hard for their eventual victory.
Time for reflection
Regardless of the result of the Euro 2020 final, there is a sense in which everyone who has been part of finding ways to connect and make the tournament possible has been a winner. That includes UEFA officials, players, teams and fans.
Many of us here today have shown real unity and resilience in many ways over the last 18 months. We have cared for our classmates, kept in touch with people who are having to self-isolate, risen to the challenge of online study and been flexible as plans changed repeatedly as a result of the pandemic. In this, we’ve seen people supporting each other, and showing resilience in the face of extreme challenge.
The idea of rising to a challenge and being resilient in the face of difficulty is an idea that is addressed in the Bible.
Show Slide 6.
In the book of James, we read, ‘For when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow.’ (James 1.3)
Facing troubles can help to stretch our resilience muscle. Of course, it is a lot easier to do when we have supportive people around us and we feel connected and united with others.
Show Slide 7.
In another Bible passage, we read, ‘Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.’ (Philippians 2.4)
So, as we take a couple of moments of quiet reflection, let’s consider the ways in which we have shown resilience. Let’s also call to mind the people who’ve helped us with that. And let’s consider how it feels when we are part of a community and can be supportive and encouraging to others.
Pause to allow time for thought.
Finally, having had the time to reflect on these things, let us pause to thank God.
Thank you for the many nations and individuals who have been part of Euro 2020.
Thank you for the players and managers, officials and fans.
The Euros have reminded us of how good connection and unity feel.
We acknowledge too that this event has required resilience and adaptability:
Skills that we have all needed - and have shown - over the last year or so.
We pray for strength and wisdom to remain strong in the face of challenge.
Please give us the support of others when we face difficulty today.
Help us also to be an encouragement and support to others within our community.