Losing teaches you something
Finals of the Millenium Dubai Inter-School Basketball Tournament.
4th quarter, 3 minutes on the game clock.
Time was of the essence; we felt the pressure as drops of sweat hit the concrete floor. We were against the best basketball team in Dubai, this being our third time facing off against this particular team. Scores like 60-17 and 51-23 surged through my head; they had won the previous games by a large margin, and we were bruised emotionally.
As captain, I knew I had to rise to the occasion. At 14, blessed with a height of 6'1 and skills not many players had. But with these abilities came greater responsibilities. Every day I woke up at 4:00 am and started practicing with the team an hour later. A minute late to practice, I was gifted with an extra mile of running. My asthma was not a pass from hard work, and anyone around me could hear my lungs gasping for air during practice. Endurance wasn't my favorite word, it dismantled me, but it taught me valuable lessons.
On the day of the finals,
My task was to guard the fastest player on our opponent's team, nicknamed "The Flash". Ironic, as I was the slowest player in my team. I was gifted with skills, driving in and a good mid-range shooting form, but not speed. Even though we were determined to win, the game was off to a bad start and the score was 30-9 in their favor.
We had to pull off nothing short of a miracle in the next 17 minutes. I knew this was the time to make every sacrifice count. Our opponents were brimming with overconfidence from their previous victories, and we slowly capitalized the weak points they exposed in their carelessness.
Running back and forth after every interception and turnover in the 28-meter long basketball court seemed natural. I drew energy from the toil. We implemented the full-court press, the extremely demanding task of man-man defense from their baseline. I was bleary-eyed, but with the fire inside us, outstanding teamwork and skill, we played like a ferocious storm
At last, the fruit for all our dreaded efforts- we tied them with 20 seconds to spare. The crowd was on its feet, the champions for the three consecutive years were about to be overthrown by us. With 10 seconds to spare, ecstatic and so close to victory, I accidentally fouled "The Flash" when he was driving in for a crossover. I stood motionless as the referee signaled for a freethrow. Essentially, a "free point" presented to them on a golden platter, along with the championship because of my erratic mistake. Now it was the third consecutive time we lost to them.
I contributed 43 points to my team that match. It basically meant nothing in the end. I had let down my school, and more importantly my teammates and my coach. Mentally and physically broken, we boarded the bus back down. Our coach was rarely pleased. Even when we would win, he'd have a blank, emotionless face. Considering this, I was surprised to hear what he said next. With his 40 years of basketball coaching experience he told us in his eyes we had lost the match, but won in the long run.
I did not get what he meant then, but the next time we met our phenomenal opponents, we beat them with a score difference so large that the crowd forgot about the previous matches that we lost to them.
I realized that losing a couple of times even after working so hard just builds you up piece by piece for the victory ahead. It's okay to lose. Losing teaches you something. Having to try and go through the trials and tribulations to actually overcome, to get there to win, that's what makes life interesting.