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Fri 18.May 2012 14:23 Tanya Taylor,
Christen Press Blog: "Faith, fate, and football"
Image: goteborgfc.se
Although baptized in the Church, I am not the world’s most devout Catholic. I am, however, a spiritual person. In creating my own set of beliefs, I have scrutinized philosophies, challenged authority, adopted and rejected dogmas, and come to cherish a fundamental belief that I have the power to write my own future. I pick my own path and in doing so, I make my own luck. This is my creed. W.E. Henley’s eloquent words hang on the walls in my bedroom: “It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

Lately, however, my relationship with football has challenged me to reconsider my steadfast faith in determinism. Are the forces of fatalism at work here? Is it possible that things happen for a reason unknown to me?

“Team Faith:” With little time to prepare for season in Göteborg, I have had to work actively everyday to develop what I hope becomes an unwavering conviction in the power of my team and our system of soccer.

Through recent revelations I have realized that my latest role of “rolling in the deep” puts me in a precarious position. The notion of “staying high” means not only that I must trust my team to contain the other team’s attack, but also I must play with the belief that my team will play me quality balls in dangerous places. In the past, a lack of patience and faith has drawn me deep into the midfield searching for easier balls. I am discovering how starting in dangerous positions on the field can change everything in a positive way.

Furthermore, as players we must display faith in one another, which seems to have a mutually beneficial effect. I’ve found that teams that truly trust in their game plan generally are winning teams. Something magical happens on the field when 11 players think with one mind. Coaches call it “being on the same page.” Captains call it “buying in to the system.” I call it having faith.

And while I am trying my best to keep the faith, I still proceed with caution. The operative word being "proceed," but I defer to the wisdom of the great spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi who said, “Faith is not something to grasp, it is a state to grow into.”

“Me Faith:” My year as a professional football player has been a tumultuous one. Every year has its ups and downs, but the last 14 months have been extreme for me. Through smiling firsts and tearful lasts, full-volley goals and mental breakdowns, living simultaneously in paradise and a personal hell, my football career has stretched my limits. In doing so, it taught me to trust myself as a player. I have found one way to ground myself amongst the drastic changes and chaos that comes along with being a professional women’s soccer player: positive self-efficacy. Believing that I am a consistent player actually enables me to be one, regardless of circumstances over which I have no control. So, I look back on all of the times in my career when I thought something absolutely horrible was happening to me, and can now see how it was the perfect opportunity for me grow.

When I signed with KGFC in February, I had no clue what the football would be like, no insight into Swedish culture, no choice, and no take-backs. It was a total risk. And perhaps, like a sip of perfectly brewed cappuccino in the morning, Sweden is exactly the pleasant jolt I need in my life.

I have mentioned before that I try to leave room in my "luggage" to bring home a thing or two, but after rifling through my bags while packing and unpacking for games, camps and relocations, I have discovered that faith has been a stowaway in my life all these years.

Faith, at least in the role it plays in my life, is about trust. I’ll be real with you. When I first realized I would be unable to attend USWNT camp in May because of my responsibility to my club, I thought it was some kind of a sick joke. Perhaps the gods have conspired against me to give me the worst timing ever…

But then, you see, I have the ultimate faith in my path. Life makes no promises. I may never again have the chance to compete at camp for a spot on an Olympic team. But I’ve come to realize that this unfortunate timing is less of an evil plot to destroy me, and closer to … yupp … I’m going to say it … my destiny. This is my unique path; and as it happens, it is the road less traveled. I’m proud of that. Life is not a game of numbers, and I am sick of tallying up the probabilities anyway. With faith and a little push from the game itself, I trust that I am where I am supposed to be. Setbacks? Disappointments? I play on. For, like Michael Jordan says, “I have something more important than courage, I have patience.”


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