Sport is so rich with metaphors, lessons from the characteristics one witnesses, says Murray Williams.
Cape Town - In the west of England rise the Black Mountains, the border with Wales. At the foot of these is a city named Hereford. And on the outskirts of Hereford is a tiny hamlet named Dinedor.
Dinedor has just one little country lane running through it, before it turns into farmland, stretching up to an Iron Age camp.
If you happened to spend some time there, you’d see, every now and again, a bunch of men jogging in a group.
You’d see them dressed casually, looking relaxed.
You may or may not think twice about them – they could be a local rugby team.
You’d probably notice, however, that these men were supremely fit. Not heavily built, but powerful, potent.
And if you asked locals about these men, they’d tell you these were no ordinary joggers.
They’d tell you these men were members of a legendary special forces regiment, one of the most feared and revered outfits on earth.
These joggers are British SAS.
I remember, as a kid, being fascinated with the Special Air Service when I read a book about their origins during World War II.
From the outset, they broke all the rules of conventional combat, comprising teams which were always on standby, highly mobile, self-sufficient, invisible.
And, most of all, as their motto demands, they were daring.
I loved their ethos, their story, their famous courage. And I loved watching them pass from my dad’s stoep, as they trained near their home base in Hereford.
I remembered these guys, and their motto, while watching a sports match on Wednesday night.
On one side was a team of rock stars.
The reigning champions, the Spanish football team – Kings of Europe, Kings of the World.
And up against them, from a sliver of a country at the bottom of the continent the Spaniards once conquered, the Chileans.
Sport is so rich with metaphors, lessons from the characteristics one witnesses.
Yes, there’s arrogance, selfishness, vanity. But the good typically outguns these – commitment, courage and camaraderie. Discipline, tenacity, resolve.
The Spanish team which took to the field was so good they could leave world-beaters like Cesc Fabregas, Fernando Torres and David Villa on the bench. Unbelievable.
One wonders what the mood was like in the Chileans’ change-room before the match, what chance they gave themselves.
Or perhaps one doesn’t wonder, perhaps one knows – because of what we saw unfold. Perhaps the final score shows us, precisely, that they took to the field with determined self-belief, undaunted by the team they faced.
It was the same degree of extraordinary self-belief the Australians had shown earlier on Wednesday, when they refused to be bullied by the Dutch.
Captain Tim Cahill said simply: “I left everything out there on the pitch. Everything.”
What was most gratifying about this football match between Spain and Chile was the proof that one has significant power over circumstance. That if one chooses to work hard, believe in oneself, to be indomitable – then it can pay such rich rewards.
The Chileans pushed themselves harder, put more effort into every single tackle, relentlessly demanded more of their bodies.
As rugby captains say so often in post-match interviews: “They wanted it more.”
The Chileans won on Wednesday night because they observed the most simple, profound, powerful motto in sport – a motto which just happens to be that of the SAS: “Qui audet adipiscitur.”
Or, in English: “Who dares wins.”
* Murray Williams writes a weekly column called “Shooting from the lip” in the Cape Argus every Friday.