I have been my 9 year old son’s soccer coach for a few years, and as we started the spring season, I encouraged all of my players to watch the 2016 movie Pele: Birth of a Legend. It is one of my favorite sports movies and features one of my favorite soccer players of all time, Pele. It’s inspirational, uplifting, encourages teamwork and shows Brazil’s “beautiful game.”  As a kid who played several years of AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) and high school soccer, wearing the coveted #10 jersey was not only an indicator of your position as an attacking midfielder or playmaker, but #10 was worn by the incredible Pele. Other legendary players like Maradona, Zidane, Ronaldinho and Messi have worn #10 as well.

As an aside, if you are interested in improving in a sport or athletic endeavor, I strongly encourage you to watch videos and read books about your favorite athlete(s) in your chosen sport(s). They motivate, educate and illustrate how they became successful. As you watch them employ a perfect serve and volley in tennis, for example, not only are you watching how it should be done, but you can picture yourself doing the same thing. I can recall many, many, many times watching the documentary Pumping Iron before or after a weight training workout. This featured bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Franco Columbu. Let’s just say I was pumped. 

June 11th, 2022 was the last game for coaching my spring soccer season. When I was packing up and say my goodbyes, Tom, one of my soccer players, and his father came over and presented me with a gift. I opened it and was delighted to see the book Pele: Why Soccer Matters.  Written by Pele and Brian Winter, they share some of Pele’s heartwarming stories and hard-won wisdom. The book was published in 2014 when Pele was 73 years old, and as opposed to athletes who write autobiographies in the prime of their career, Pele has a unique perspective on the game of soccer (and life) decades after his retirement. I was always excited to pick the book up and read the next chapter. As a matter of fact, I finished it in under a week, which is record time for me :-) What I came away with most was watching him mature as a player and a person. Adjusting his priorities as he got older and wiser. Even if you’re not a futbol fan, I strongly recommend this book. You will be inspired.