2 November 2008

Soccer Player's Mentor

I am a MUFC soccer fan since the 90s. One of my current favourites is Park Ji-Sung. He does not always score nor is he high up in Ferguson's pecking order of wingers. I like him because he is Asian and an under-dog in big club MUFC.

One of Park's mentor is Guus Hiddink. This is Park's account of Guus' impact in his life...

"I was sitting alone in an empty locker room, left leg injured. I need to prove my worth when the opportunity is given. I look at my leg, powerless, and wonder why I had to get hurt in this moment. Then, Coach Hiddink appears out of nowhere with an interpretor and speaks to me in English. Not understanding, I stare at the interpretor.

"He says you have great mentality. With that kind of mental strength, you will become a great player."

"I was shocked. Before I could murmur the easy 'thank you' in English, he was gone. My heart was pounding. The coach always seemed to be so far away, but he came to me and told me I have great mentality. Somewhere inside, energy was rousing up."

"... Mentality. I have nothing else to boast, but one thing I could do is to never give up. I will endure all hardships, even if I would die from it. And I will keep this mentality."

"... In the entire World Cup, I played with those words ringing in my ears. With my mentality, I can become a great player. I kicked the ball and ran around the field clinging on to those words. For better or for worse, I am calm and quiet, so not many people take notice of me. But I was sure that Coach Hiddink would be looking at me and urging me to move on. This gave me courage."

"If it was not for Coach Hiddink, I would not be where I am now."

"With the words 'where I am now,' I am not referring to me becoming famous or being able to purchase a spacious condo for my parents. I am referring to the fact that I learned to love myself more."

"Within a minute, what Coach Hiddink said to me changed my life forever. I feel a bit shy thinking about what he would think after reading this, but he is my 'master' and I owe him everything and I won't be able to repay it in my lifetime."

After scoring the winner against Portugal in the World Cup to secure a place in the last 16, knocking Portugal out in the process, the first thing Park did was to run to Hiddink and gave him a bear hug.

This story encourages me to be an encourager. There are many youngsters out there waiting for me to ignite. And boy will they light up the world!


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