Craig Foster, former Socceroo and SBS Chief Football Analyst, talks about Australia’s most famous penalty and connects football to business at a Tamworth Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast
When John Aloisi stepped up to take the deciding penalty for Australia against Uruguay in the 2006 World Cup Qualifier, he had to walk the 30 metres or so to the penalty spot alone and in front of over 80,000 Australian football fans and millions watching worldwide. Score and he would take Australia back to the World Cup for the first time in decades. Miss and he would be cast as a villain forever, despite his successful career and massive contribution to the game. Talk about pressure. As we know, thankfully, the rest is history. With a deathly silence engulfing the stadium, Aloisi stepped up, maintained his composure and planted the ball in the back of the net. The stadium erupted.
This is the introduction Craig Foster, the SBS Chief Football analyst and former Socceroo, gave this morning during an engaging and insightful talk at The Tamworth Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast. But what we also learnt from Foster were some insights of what went on behind the scenes in the run up to that memorable penalty shoot out.
Drawing out key business lessons from the many football achievements and failures he has witnessed or experienced, Foster painted a picture of what it takes to succeed – even when others may have written you off or you make serious mistakes. He skilfully shared insights, ones that resonated strongly with the business audience, not by rattling off facts and figures but through engaging, emotional and entertaining storytelling. And there wasn’t a Powerpoint slide in sight.
Focusing on the Aloisi spot kick, Foster made some strong parallels with the day-to-day challenges we all face in business. The day before the Uruguay game Guus Hiddink, the coach of Australia at the time, asked his players who wanted to take a penalty if the game went all the way. He didn’t outline his choice of penalty takers but rather asked who wanted to take a penalty. Many of the big names you would expect stepped up to the plate.
Aloisi did the same but he took a different approach. He put his hand up and said: “I’ll take the 5th penalty”.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with football, this can be the last and deciding penalty. The stakes and the pressure doesn’t get much bigger than this. But Aloisi nominated himself all the same. According to Foster, this is because Aloisi’s years of determination and dedication to his sport had prepared him for this moment. Apparently back in the UK, Aloisi was always the player who would stay behind after training (regardless of the weather and conditions) to train more as well as practice penalty taking. His effort paid off when it counted.
Foster compared that timeless moment to everyday life. Like Aloisi, there are moments in our businesses and lives (perhaps only ever one or two, three if you’re lucky) when a ‘door opens’ and you get the opportunity to do something very significant. These may be career or life defining and no doubt they come with an element of risk. But if you have done the preparation, the hard work and have built a deep inner-belief in your ability over time, the opportunity is truly there for the taking.
(Many thanks to Chris Ingall from Duncan Plante & Co for inviting me along this morning to a great presentation and networking event).
For more information:
Craig Foster as a public speaker.
The Northern Daily Leader (Tamworth, NSW).