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  • Writer's pictureBolaji Akinola-Alli

The Game of Life

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m having a business conversation with some friends (you know living the prime years of being in your 20s) and one of them mentioned ‘we all have the same 90 minutes but we play at different leagues’.

This led me to think more deeply about the similarities between football and life.

Oh and when I say football I mean the beautiful game that Lionel Messi plays and not the extreme Rugby in America…

Anyway I digress.

So before I tell you what football has got to do with life. I wanted to clarify some questions you might have on this post:

  • Yes this post is about life in general NOT football.

  • No you don’t have to like football to get it, but it helps.

  • Yes Man Utd will be back to its glory days (I had to sneak it in)

Without further delay, here are the lessons football has taught me about life:

  1. 90 mins plus extra time

A football game lasts 90 mins with a 15 mins half-time period in the middle and in special cases an allowance for 30 mins of extra time [1]. I like to think of a good long life of 90 years as ideal, but some are blessed with an extra time of up to 30 years.

What this signifies to me is that, as long as there is hope, you can still score a last minute goal which could change the trajectory of the rest of your game (your life) but also inspire millions of people. There’s a famous quote by Stephen Hawking which goes:

“However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. Where there’s life, there’s hope.”

2. Substitution

For our loved ones that don’t make it past the first half or even the first few minutes due to illness, accidents, man-made or natural causes, we miss them. We will always remember the role they played in our lives, the beautiful goals they scored in their lifetimes.

I believe that only the Team Manager (God) knows why he has decided to make such changes. He sees the big picture from the sidelines and has a purpose for each one of us to fulfil.

According to Romans 14:

“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. (NIV)”

Furthermore, the Team Manager doesn’t take people out of the game without finding a replacement to carry on His divine purpose. This brings me to my next point; Teamwork.

3. Teamwork

Football is all about teamwork. Every player has a specific role to play to win the game. Wether this means collective defending on a cold night in Stoke or individual accomplishments, we often need an assist from a friend or manager to enable us to score our goals (achieve our dreams).

Even better when our individual goals align with the goals of the team (the human race), this way we can create a positive human future, end poverty, and tackle climate change amongst others.

Yes I believe we can do everything if our individual goals align with that of the betterment of society.

To quote Bill Gates;

“I’m an optimist because I know what technology can accomplish and because I know what people can accomplish.”

4. Different Leagues

So, we could work as a team, achieve our goals and create a positive human future — all whilst playing at different leagues.

Let me explain.

In the world of European Football, the most prestigious league is called the Champions League. It is where every professional player dreams of playing at some point in their careers.


because you get to play against the best players in the world where the quality of football is second to none.

This means that as we choose to create a better world, we should strive to play at the highest level of whatever career or trade we do.

Yes, not everyone is lucky enough to play at this level due to a number of reasons; disability, accessibility and finance included. But the point is to always be the best version of YOURSELF.

Yourself has uniqueness! Yourself has purpose!

Like Toni Morrison said;

“Whatever the work is, do it well — not for the boss but for yourself.”


In conclusion, Football has taught me a few things about life and I am just glad to be able to share these with you.

Now I would be naive to think everyone would see it my way, so if you have any comments, I’ll be happy to hear them below :)


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