I was at an u15 junior rugby final last night. It was a good game, entertaining with the usual frustrations of seeing youngsters go the wrong way or drop the ball. Its easy to spot these mistakes from the comfort of the stand and with hindsight. For me the kind of mistakes these guys make are learning tools. We drop the ball today so we can learn not to do the same tomorrow, that's largely how it works. These guys play to win for sure but is winning everything? Sometimes when we loose the game we win in other ways, lessons learned gained experience and knowelgde. Experience is a very valuable thing so if you can't gain it in a winning environment the next best thing is losing, learning and growing.
What made me think of this today was a comment form a parent that "if only our team were allowed to play their best players they would be doing better". Now the reason they weren't is not important but for me the comment demonstrates an attitude of defeat. For some winning is everything and you do so at all costs. The reality is you will be in situations where you are not going to win. The choice here is, do I take away positives or do I just turn my back and hope that next time the same approach works or I have stronger team members?
What stuck in my mind was how the boys who were stepping up into the shoes of the 'better players' were feeling. I would say a mix of intrepidation and pride. Nervous that they probably know they are filling the shoes of a better player but proud of the fact they have had the opportunity; from where I was standing they were all doing their best.
So my point? Well clearly we don't always go out with the strongest team. When we don't, spare a thought to the less experienced, use everything you can to bring them along on that journey and help make their contribution the best it can be. They may suprise you and if you do lose, stick with people and help develop them, it will strength your team in the end.... leave no one behind.