Excellence is not for part timers, ask the Germans

In Sport, Success

The Fifa World Cup in Brazil is one of beauty, prestige and flamboyance. The true modern footballing greats continue their gladiatorial combat in a quest to discover which country can rightfully claim to be the best on earth.

And our business lessons continue. Contrast these two scenarios.

The German team built their base camp retreat themselves. The resort was constructed in an area with a climate similar to that of places where the team’s matches are being held.

They looked for a base where the players could adapt effectively to the kind of things they would expect to encounter during each match. Everything in and around the resort was well planned.

The sport and nature resort, as it has been dubbed, comprised of 14 two-storey housing units with 65 residential units, hence plenty of room for the team and its staff. It also comes complete with a training pitch, team headquarters, fitness centre and a wonderful view of the beach.

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The purpose-built resort is also a mere 45 minutes away from Porto Seguro’s airport. From there, each of the team’s group matches are only a two-hour private jet flight away.

Bearing in mind the size of Brazil and the considerable distances between each tournament venue, it was important for them to minimise the strain of travelling to and from matches.

Compare this with Cameroon. Just moments before the team was eliminated from contention at this World Cup, two teammates got involved in a physical altercation on the field at Arena Amazonia in Manaus.

In the 90th minute of a four-nil loss to Croatia, Cameroon defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto head-butted teammate Benjamin Moukandjo. The intra-team clash had to broken up by another teammate, Pierre Webo.

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They also had the most inexplicable act of aggression in the match. In the 40th minute, Cameroon was reduced to 10 men when midfielder Alex Song elbowed Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic in the back. The egregious and obvious swipe at Mandzukic occurred in full view of the referee, who quickly showed Song a red card.

This is the same Cameroonian who refused to board the plane to Brazil over money issues. The team was holding out over bonuses promised to players for participating in the tournament.

It is reported that the government offered players a bonus of 68,000 euros (Sh8 million), but the players demanded nearly triple that amount.

Similar reports surfaced in 1994 and 2002. Are you surprised that the German national football team is one of the most successful in the World Cup, winning three tournaments and reaching four other finals? Only once did they fail to reach the quarter finals.

In their last 14 World Cup matches, Cameroon have won just one of them and that was against Saudi Arabia back in 2002.

What is the lesson?

There is a reason why fish are capable of swimming in the darkest waters and why birds are able to soar into the heavens with more grace and poise than any plane in existence. It’s because that is what they spend most of their time doing.

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If you do something every day, you cannot fail to become proficient at it. It’s a rule.

If you spend eight hours a day playing the guitar, it will be impossible to achieve mediocrity after putting in that much time and effort into practising. Even in business, excellence is not for part timers.

Ask the Germans.

Mr Waswa is the MD of Outdoors Africa.

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