An opinion piece written by Ray Pons.

There’s something about the human spirit that becomes evident in the most challenging yet uplifting circumstances.

BMO field, Toronto, Sunday, March 27, 2022, 4.00pm EDT, saw Canada’s men’s soccer team [football in the rest of the world except North America] end a drought of 36 years and qualify for the FIFA World Cup Finals to be held in Qatar later this fall, with a 4-0 victory over Jamaica, in front of 29,122 ecstatic fans.

It was an exhilarating experience. To see the diversity of supporters from a wide diversity of cultures, creeds, backgrounds, and ethnicity united in a common adoration of sport and country.

Unique, yet “normal”.

It’s not that many months ago that sporting tussles took place in hockey, football, basketball, baseball, golf tournaments, et al, in front of empty stadiums, no noise, no banners, no nothing. What a difference to hear the experience as well as witness it.

COVID-19 pandemic, war, joblessness, economic stress and anxiety, supply chain concerns, healthcare, and so many other soul-destroying pressures around the entire globe, are capable of being somewhat set aside by humanity, for a few hours of joy or agony, due to victory or defeat – in a sporting spectacle.

I have a yearning that the metaphor of BMO field “back to normal” on that frigid Sunday, could be, might be, replicated in the world at large. In the worlds of business, politics, relationships, economics, and success.

It was visibly obvious in the stadium that very different people, from very different cultures, religions, history, orientation, can indeed be fused, amalgamated, and celebrate as one. Nice normal.

It was clear to see the differences yet hear the commonality. Normal.

Old & Young. Male & Female. Muslim & Christian. Protestant & Catholic. Jew & Gentile. Immigrant & First Nation. Perfectly normal.

In a world environment of divisiveness, rage, “us versus them” where far too many seek not to understand but to force understanding down the throats of “opponents” it was flat-out wonderful, a marvel to behold, to see that it truly can happen, and, exiting the lockdowns, we can get back to normal.

In the words of modern-day philosopher John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer …. but I’m not the only one.”

So what?

What does any of this have to do with Grassroots Public Affairs? What factors, surrounding Government Relations, Public Relations, success in advocacy, achieving business growth, advancements in highly effective leadership, better communication skills, thereby acquiring increased leverage for your cause[s], are being brought into play? What does this have to do with getting support and money from Governments?

Nothing! And yet, everything! 

Principles are what make the biggest progress.

The larger the issue, the more pressing the problem, and the greater the importance of attaining success, a positive outcome, the more vital it is to focus on principles.

Not practices. Not “How To’s”. Not the very best of good intentions.

Principles are what make the biggest progress.

Principle: The best people to speak for an industry are the people who everyday work in the industry, depend upon the industry, possess a passion for the industry.

Principles: Trust. Truth. Honesty. Integrity. Fairness. Fun. Purpose [Why]. Mission [How]. Vision [What].

Principles: Clarity. Consistency. Collaboration.

The success of Canada’s men’s soccer team, under the leadership of Head Coach John Herdman, is, and was, achieved on principles.

Former Head Coach of the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team, Coach Herdman took a “struggling squad” and transformed them to become a team that captured the hearts and minds of all Canadians. Under his leadership Canadian women won back-to-back bronze medals at the Olympic Games, then went on to win the gold medal at the Pan Am games, the first in Canadian soccer history.

Known for delivering riveting talks [principle: highly effective communication] John Herdman explains the importance of vision, passion, and discipline, inspiring and transforming for top performance to achieve success [again principles] whether it’s on the field or in the office.

His history of success includes New Zealand’s Director of Football Development, where he revolutionized how soccer in that nation is organized and delivered.

In 2017 he won the Jack Donohue “Coach of the Year” Award.

Herdman is a class act. And his success in football [soccer] can be emulated in areas that go far beyond sports.

His story continues today.

Recalling how it felt when the place of my birth, England, won the World Cup way back in 1966, my great anticipation is to replay and experience those same emotions in November of 2022, for my chosen home and citizenship, Canada.


Ray Pons

Sr. Communications Specialist

Ray is an expert on leadership development, impactful communication and strategic coaching.  In addition to his years as a serial entrepreneur, Ray’s experience includes life insurance, reinsurance, being a faculty member trainer at Rockhurst University Continuing Education Center, Keynote Speaker and Executive Coach to businesses small and large. He has a straightforward, no-nonsense style heavily influenced by Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People & The 8th Habit. Ray brings an experienced, yet innovative approach to performance improvement, team-building and change management.

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