How to apply sporting values into the world of business ? A former sport professional can contribute tremendously, so much so in an organization if he decides to undertake new projects. 

From the point of view of an ex sportsman, businessman, entrepreneur & survivor of the transition to “real life” and after ending my career as a footballer at the ripe age of 28, it has been 10 years of positive & negative experiences in the labour market. During this time, I have come to the conclusion that an ex sportsman can contribute considerably to a company  if he decides to undertake new projects. 

I am going to focus on my sport: football, but this article can  relate to any other sports as well. 

Looking back to when I was 4 years old, I had asked my father to play for a football team, I had been fortunate to be educated regarding values ,in addition to those acquired in the family, neighborhood & at school with my group of friends. Not everyone has the chance to 

amass values collectively in a sports environment.

When you first set foot into the locker room you know you have a group of colleagues with whom you will be spending most of your time. You have have coach with whom you must learn & improve daily, you must obey and respect his decisions. From that moment onwards you begin to realize that you have to develop in this routine, that of the team & know your role and relationship with them. 

Does this sound familiar to you within the professional world ?

We are going to discuss which values a professional sportsman or woman should develop from its infancy and how can we relate it with valuable skills that can make him or her with high potential as an entrepreneur, businessman or employee. 

1. Dreams & Focus

When you start practicing a sport which you love, you have a dream in your mind. In this case, specific to football, you have a dream to play for a big club , to defend that badge & represent in major competitions. 

You watch a Champions league match, Barca – Madrid (Clasico) or a World Cup & you visualize yourself living that dream. You will do everything in your power to achieve it. And that dream of  a child wanting to be a professional footballer is one of the most powerful energy that I have felt. Everything in your life revolves around it, you develop emotions & sensations that if managed well are unstoppable.

If we assimilate that dream with these sensations into the business world, work or entrepreneurship, we have the so called “focus”: To have a focused mind on something and to develop all your capabilities, without distraction, is a great value and a footballer has built upon this skill for years. When you undertake a project you have a dream of generating a product or a project that excites you which you want to achieve it, in this case, a footballer has an advantage as he has been through the emotions and know how in order to focus all his efforts into achieving that dream. 

2. Goals

A footballer is setting goals or challenges  in the short, medium & long term. The short term objective starts from the beginning of preseason. The first aim is to win a place in the team, then in the squad and later in the starting eleven. In the medium term, we seek to achieve continuity in the team and in the long term to be an important player in the your team, a player loved by the fans and why not,  a player who attracts the interest of bigger teams. 

If we assimilate the goals that a footballer sets himself in the short, medium and long term we again find that these values are advantages for an entrepreneur, businessman or an employee, since these help in improving performance & productivity in a relevant manner.

3. Common Objective

Both collectively & individually a footballer sets a number of goals to achieve each season. These objectives, for each player and the coach is made aware to the team which makes it possible to achieve them. In any start up, company or work environment it is vital to set objectives and share it with the group to achieve them. Therefore, a footballer is accustomed to work by objectives & under pressure. This again gives him something different compared to the rest.

4. Empathy 

From an early age, when a footballer starts playing in a group, he must develop empathy to connect with his teammates and his coach. He must know how to put himself in his coach’s shoes in order to understand his decisions, both that influence him in a positive as well as a negative way and be able to work and improve to gain confidence. 

The same reciprocates with his teammates, a footballer has to put himself in their shoes and understand how they think and why they make decisions or actions in their day to day lives in the dressing room and in their emotions after a victory, defeat, good or bad performance or opinions from the press etc. Only in this manner can a footballer improve the collective performance and personal relationship. 

In the business world, empathy becomes the x factor, especially in the commercial aspect and business development. An entrepreneur, businessman or an employee with empathy is capable to convince the person in front of him & provides insurance at the time of closing a deal, turning an opportunity into business and is key to the ambience of the group.

5. Ability to learn 

From the moment a footballer starts playing within a team there is a continuous process of learning daily. Every single training, every talk, every match is a learning process. When a footballer finishes his career, apart from these values and acquired skills plus the innate abilities, his mind is ready and eager to learn, similar to when he first started kicking the ball, therefore, he is a diamond in the rough which needs to be polished in a company if his attitude is right after hanging up his boots. If you have been a team player you know that it is vital to surround yourself with good colleagues to achieve objectives hence you are in good hands to undertake projects, they will provide you knowledge with topics or areas you are unaware of. 

6. Specialization & Versatility

A player throughout his career is specializing a particular position that suits him, regarding working in a company he will know how to adapt to a position within the team where the outcome is based on  on those skills. If you have had the opportunity to have been a versatile player, he will have the ability to adapt to different positions, hence, he is capable of adapting quickly to different roles or within a position within their capabilities.

7. Teamwork 

This is one of the most fundamental value of a footballer, to know how to work as a team and to put his effort for the collective in order to reach the objectives & success. There are 11 players in a field who have to work together to win individual battles in the 1×1 pairings against the opponent in order to achieve victory. I had a trainer who told me the weight of the team was 11kg and that if each player carried their own 1kg of responsibility the balance in the effort made will improve the performance & if any of them stopped carrying their kg of responsibility, the rest had to carry more weight. This at work provides a footballer the capacity to take responsibility of his effort for the team which is a differentiator for the company to have a committed employee. If a footballer decides to take responsibility as a team, he will be a collaborative entrepreneur who is able to work as a team and show his capacity to the rest to achieve common objectives. 

8. Solidarity

Football implies a natural solidarity with teammates. During a number of times during a competition a footballer should help some companions who are finding it tough and make an effort to cover them as numerical advantage over his opponent, to offer as an option to receive the ball when his teammate doesn’t have an option and other umpteen situations of the game that require of that solidarity. But not only there, there are times when a teammate has made a mistake which has led to loss of the match or when a teammate is whistled by the fans and his teammates are there to tuck him in and say: “relax, we are here with you”. Therefore, a footballer builds this ability naturally and when applied to the professional world he will support his colleague in difficult moments. If he is a businessman he will have the ability to support his employees in difficult moments. If he is an entrepreneur he will stand by his fellow entrepreneurs who are discouraged or disappointed in their journey.

9. Generosity of effort

A footballer is always used to giving a little more, to be generous in his effort for the benefit of the group, to dedicate hours of training to improve his physical condition or different technical tactical skills. He does not look at the clock or monitor his fatigue, he is willing to push his limits and compete to the point of exhaustion and defend the colors of the city & support. That generosity while putting in the effort makes a footballer unique when it comes to being involved in the business world, if he is motivated he will be able to dedicate the necessary effort beyond the usual hours mentioned in his contract to achieve goals & if he is an entrepreneur or businessman this effort is amplified as this is his project and he is used to working with generosity as well. 

10. Perseverance

To become a footballer you must be clear that it is a marathon and you have to be persistent, this is not an easy pathway and you will fall down multiple times and get up as many times in your journey to become a professional player. Without this perseverance the dream is not obtained, again this shows another value of an employee, industrialist or businessman that everyone may not have and which is fundamental to surpass obstacles to find success, but a footballer doesn’t see it that way, he looks at it as a learning & this experience adds to him improving everyday. 

11.  Leadership 

You are born with leadership, a footballer who is leader is key not only in the performance of this team but also balancing and strength of the group. In the business world having an employee with leadership capacities is an added value that any company would want for intermediate openings, to lead teams, even lead a company. In the world of entrepreneurship & startups, all require a leader, a strong leader who is able to create enthusiasm, commitment & team wellbeing which are fundamental values for the success of any project. 

Adding to that are numerous virtues & acquired skills such as convincing an ex footballer who is motivated & has a desire to join the world of business as an employee or entrepreneur with high potential for growth. Therefore ,if you have an opportunity to hire or undertake a new project with an ex footballer who is motivated and willing to put in the work during his incorporation into the labour market after his career, do not hesitate, give him that opportunity, he is a diamond in the rough

An ex footballer, believes in your aptitude, the motivation you provide along with the attitude and your eagerness to jump into the field of work and show , as you did on the pitch, that you can be of great value in this new stage that begins post retirement. Without fear of the unknown, ask for that opportunity as you had asked when you had your debut as a professional player or the the first say you put on those boots for your first training session. Start with the same visual that you had the as a child to become footballer, that dream has no limits. 

Julio Fariñas Baro is the CEO of Footters.com and was a football player in several divisions and countries.