As soon as that last penalty shot missed the mark in the Euro 2020 football final, I (like millions of others) feared that there was trouble ahead for those young players.
That night and the next day, they kept coming back into my mind. I was hoping that they were being supported by the whole team, players, and management alike. That they were being protected and closely monitored for signs of real mental distress.
But over the coming days, two things became apparent.
- The maturity all three players showed in their social media posts. Their strength of character shone through and clearly has been something they have been building their whole lives. Perhaps as a result of racism experienced on multiple occasions already.
- The goodness of ordinary people, just like you and me, who reached out to them to show that love really does overcome hate. People sought to drown out the haters on social media by following the players in their droves and sending supportive comments. The avalanche of gorgeous messages on walls, written by young fans and grateful school children who have benefited from the good work Marcus Rashford has done already in his young life was inspiring.
What heartened me, even more, was that the majority of messages I saw did not even mention the haters, but focused completely on showing support, gratitude, and love for the players.
That’s quiet leadership right there. Not engaging in tit-for-tat slurs but instead just doing the right thing, independently and quietly. What’s even more amazing is that some of those quiet leaders were children.
Until next week, take care,