Lessons from the Underdogs in World Cup Football' 2014: The rise of Costa Rica

Has this ever happened to you that you have felt as the underdog in any field that you are competing in?

Many times, we will find that we often have the tendency to underestimate our potential because we always believe in the talents of others being more than us…

It’s not just you and me, it is almost 99% of the people in this world who feel the same way…

And that is why I love to write about sports because it constantly reinforces the belief in me that no matter how much of an underdog you or people around you might think of your capabilities, you can still surprise everyone with your results…

And the rise of the team Costa Rica has been no different. For the first time, they have reached the Quarter finals of World Cup 2014.Coming into this World Cup, Costa Rica had just won four of its world matches so far and England, Italy and Uruguay were strong favorites. Still Costa Rica deservedly emerged as the winner of the group of Death convincingly and became the first team to qualify ahead of Italy, Uruguay and England.

Take a pause and think we are talking about two big teams ( Italy and England) in football who didn't qualify and  a small team from Costa Rica who failed to qualify in the last World Cup, who everyone thought was a team that didn’t even stand a chance to score a goal (leave apart think of even winning a match), won two straight matches and now the Round of 16. First against Uruguay,then against Italy, now against Greece. 

Many people were quick to pounce on the fact that since Luis Suarez was missing in the first game, Uruguay was not able to play to its full potential and that’s why Costa Rica was able to edge ahead in the match. But with the win against Italy, Costa Rica has clearly shown to the world that the victory against Uruguay was no fluke. In fact the victory against Italy clearly showed how well planned the game plan was for Costa Rica team. Their high line defense left Mario Balotelli and the Italians clueless and with no Plan B in hand for the Italians, it was clear that in the game of chess between coaches, Jorge Luis Pinto had beaten Cesare Prandelli. 

Pause and think for a moment, a team with no chances, qualified ahead of all the big wigs names of football. How did this happen?

If I have to think about it, I can come up with three things: Hard Work, Planning and Confidence in your own abilities must have been the key for the success of the team.

When you are an underdog and considered as an outsider, it becomes very important for you or anyone to shut out the voices of critics and sit with yourself to think about how you can play to the best of your abilities. Results and outcomes does not matter in this approach because as long as you have given your best, more often than not, results will ultimately fall on your side.

Imagine if Costa Rica would have thought about what the critics had to say about them before the World Cup or if they were to think of all the failures that they have encountered in the past in football and focus on why they don’t even stand a chance…Do you think they would have progressed the way they have done?

Nobody would have actually said anything even if they would not have qualified in this group of death but instead of focusing on the negatives, they completely immersed themselves in what was important: hard work, proper planning and of course execution of the planning.

How can you execute properly under so much of pressure…that’s the next biggest question that came to my mind and the answer that came through was it is only possible when the focus is on giving your best and not on the outcome of the result.

Today’s lesson from the Costa Rica team is a very important one for all of us, because if you can apply their lessons in your life, believe me whether you are giving an interview, facing thousands of people to give your first presentation, writing an exam, starting a business or facing any challenge in your life, you will always emerge victorious.

No matter how much of an underdog you might think of yourself, you always have a chance to ultimately achieve the best of your abilities…Just for once, close your eyes, tell yourself you can do it, immerse in the pool of hard work and go out there with the belief that no matter how many times, I am knocked down…I will always get up because

It's always better to shock people and change people's expectations than to give them exactly what they think you can do’

So what are you waiting for..if you are a sports fan, it’s time to go beyond just admiring the efforts of Costa Rica team …

It’s time to Get up and start thinking about how you can march ahead just like Costa Rica has done in this World Cup so far!
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