Christian Lavers  |  ECNL President  |  November 25, 2020

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – St. Francis of Assisi

To reach and sustain excellence, leaders are challenged to constantly grow and change through learning and improvement, both personally and for their organizations and teams.  One of the biggest challenges in this, however, is to do so not just when the universe seems aligned with your plans and the sky is clear, but also in trying times, when the presence of adversity threatens to derail plans and goals and stifle the drive to improve.  Adversity is its own force for change, demanding solutions to unexpected problems, adjustments to unplanned obstacles, and re-assessment of long laid plans.   The reaction to adversity – positive or negative – is the ultimate measure of any leader or organization, and the determination to learn, grow, and improve in all circumstances is a hallmark of great organizations and leaders.   

This statement is true partially because the most exceptional growth and learning often comes when things are not easy.  In those moments, reflecting the quote above, not everyone can maintain their vision, adjust perspective, and stay on the path.

Challenge from adversity is something we have all faced over the past 9 months, as events, platforms, and programs were shut down for increasingly extended periods, and the “normal” cycle of life seemed to disappear.  Whether viewed from the perspective of a club, coach, administrator, parent, referee, or player, we have all been forced to look at a future where this adversity made goals, aspirations, and dreams seem in question.  

The response from our soccer community to this challenge, and the answer to these questions about the future, has been inspiring.  Our community has chosen to remain determined to create their future with optimism and unrelenting determination to move forward, and to continue to strive to be better, regardless of circumstance.   Our community has chosen to lead.

When clubs were prevented from training players face to face, they responded with brilliantly creative virtual options for learning, training, and social connection – week after week.

When players were forced to train alone, in their homes or yards, they responded with focused determination to grow and sharpen their technique every day.

When training environments began to be slowly and cautiously re-opened, both coaches and players were exuberant and supportive – in spite of the masks, social distancing, and uncertainty for when competition would begin.  

As the re-opening process has continued to unfold, with all of the starts, stops, rollbacks and inconsistencies, our clubs, coaches, players, referees, parents and administrators have continued to work relentlessly to create the best possible environment regardless of these challenges.

For that and so much more, heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for everyone in our soccer community.

The leadership – of self, team, club, and community – shown in the past months in our youth game has been fantastic.  Regardless of limitations, our soccer community has continued the drive to learn, grow, and improve, focused on a better future – even as uncertainty continues.

We are not yet at the end of the tunnel – although a light has appeared and is growing.  I have no doubts that we will reach the end as better players, coaches, parents, administrators, and referees.  I also have no doubt that this experience, and our reaction to it, will help us all grow as people and as a soccer community.

Thank you for your determined optimism, and for your continued joyful pursuit of better.  Thank you for being a part of the ECNL, and for driving us to be better as well.  

Together we will continue to lead our game, and together we will continue to raise the bar.  

Happy Thanksgiving.