Watching the 2018 World Cup was an enjoyable, unpredictable month-long experience. Whether you’re rooting for your country of birth, mourning your home country, or unabashedly supporting a nation where you have no logical allegiance, the World Cup brings people together to watch the most talented players on the biggest stage. At the International Youth Foundation, we believe in the power of sport to not only bring people together, but to serve as a vehicle for teaching essential skills necessary for success on the field, and off.

IYF’s Sport for Development (S4D) initiatives—such as SKYE and Dzima!—leverage our proven life skills curriculum, Passport to Success® (PTS), by modifying 10 classroom lessons for use on the field. Unlike many S4D programs—which focus primarily on skills for use on the field—IYF’s S4D initiatives use sports to help young women and men develop work-relevant life skills that will help them thrive on the job.

Here are four essential life skills we cultivate using Passport to Success that were also on display during the World Cup.

  • Setbacks don’t just happen on the field. During the World Cup, Croatia came from behind and went to extra time three games in a row, requiring them to dig deep to unexpectedly advance to the final. Their ability to pull out these wins despite going down a goal or facing other challenges demonstrated impressive resilience—a life skill which can be developed, and which we all need during trying times at work, in our communities, or at home.
  • To win, you need to believe you can win. Related to resilience, self-confidence—the trust one has in one’s ability to step up and deliver under pressure—is crucial. This is true not only for decisive penalty takers such as Russia's Cheryshev or England's Dier, but also for workers at a construction site asked to do a new task, or an entry-level employee in an office asked to deliver a presentation during a meeting. When young people take part in IYF’s S4D programs, they gain the confidence needed to reach their potential.
  • There is no “I” in “Team.” No team—on the field or in the workplace—can win without solid teamwork. During the World Cup, this was perfectly illustrated by Belgium's Romelu Lukaku who, rather than attempting to score the game-winning goal himself, made the smart (and selfless) decision to create an open net for his teammate. For success in any workplace, it's imperative for teammates to know how to work together, support each other, and sacrifice to reach a goal.
  • To succeed, use your head. As Mexico’s upset of Germany demonstrates, managers need to figure out tactical switches and players need to find creative workarounds to deal with opponents who may possess superior technical skills. Similarly, employers value innovation and employees who can think creatively within the parameters of an organization’s structure. Critical thinking and creative problem solving allow employees to find new solutions to old, seemingly intractable problems.

France won the 2018 World Cup, but in the past the team has fallen victim to internal discord among players, an inability to bounce back, and a host of other challenges. This year, victory was due in part to skills like resilience, confidence, teamwork, and creativity. These skills served the French team well on the field, and should they ever hang up the cleats for more traditional jobs, the same life skills will serve them equally well.

Learn more about IYF’s approach to Sport for Development (S4D) programming.