Knowledge is power! First published August 11th, 2015
Roughly around 5 years ago I began to question many things. I was tired of my full-time self-employed position as a multimedia installer and I loved coaching kids through the school which at the time was just a side but serious hobby business. My heart was always truly been entrenched in football. My life has always revolved around the game and it has brought me immense joy, heartache, happiness, along with most of my lifelong relationships, friends, and family. A love for the game which was nurtured by my father.
Throughout my life and career, I’ve had very little guidance. Everything I’ve achieved I did through the support of my family, especially my wife and parents and an unwavering self-belief that I would achieve my goals. When my career ended, however, I had a very difficult time trying to adjust to normal life. Like most I didn’t really have a plan as to what I would do when it all came to an end, it’s not something that crossed my mind when I was playing. The hard but bitter reality that this country offered very little on retirement left me unsure about what I wanted or even what I should do. Without any qualifications, it was hard to find a job that would stimulate me intrinsically. Football offers such a creative element to your existence, that rolling back to a 9 to 5 for me was torture. Doing the same monotonous job day in day out was paramount to living a life of hell. I knew I wanted to work for myself but I didn’t know exactly how to do that. Needless to say, there have been many bumps in the road.
When I was younger I planned to complete a carpentry apprenticeship but the football took precedent and now I was in no position to start again, perhaps I could have gone back to school, in fact, I tried a couple of times but I couldn’t cope, reading and lectures were so difficult for me. I started a teaching degree. Studying from home, I found myself having to read the same thing five times and I still couldn’t get my head around what I was reading. It was all totally academic and I couldn’t understand why this course was based on a lot of useless information I would never ever use which required me to memorize and write about! There was a lot about how teaching came about but not much at all how to actually teach anything? That and working fulltime with kids in private school and trying to manage the school at the same time I just couldn’t cope, It was stressing me out and I wasn’t enjoying it at all; this is when I started to get despondent.
The problem with living a life when you are not truly fulfilled or with a true sense of purpose is that eventually, it catches up with you. Don’t get me wrong I was happy for the most part, I worked for myself, I have a beautiful, intelligent, loving partner and two amazing kids who were achieving great personal triumphs but in life, I have found that everyone needs an intrinsic purpose. Growing up football was and still is everything for me, it was the one thing that gave me purpose, a way to express myself and without knowing it back then a way to inspire others. When my playing career ended there was this void. I knew that I wanted to still be involved in the game fulltime. It was like having to be born again and start from scratch. Fifteen years in football ten of those playing professional and semi-professional and everything I had ever achieved amounted to nothing in this country. Without any sort of academic degree and very few opportunities to gain employment fulltime in football, the game in disarray I retired upon my return from Malaysia. From playing to packed stadiums to working part-time filling shelves at Woolworths while my wife tried to get her business up and running. I was prepared to support her because she gave up everything to support me.
Stepping stones – After retiring I had very little to do with the game until we moved to Sydney. My wife’s business had become too difficult to manage with two young kids and we both hated Canberra with a passion, deep down we longed for Sydney a place where we could both find more opportunity. After settling into Cherrybrook. I found myself applying for a position as a coach with West Pennant Hills Soccer club, this helped revitalize my love of the game. It was a great stepping stone and I learned a lot about managing people. I learned that coaching isn’t what I thought it would be but I was confident that I would improve with experience. I had a sound knowledge of the mechanics of the game and a thirst to learn more, what I needed was to learn how to manage people, that was a completely different ball game. A few years later I was offered a stint with a Rep club since then every one of my associations with Rep clubs has turned into bitter disappointment. Try as I might the politics got the better of me and as I am someone with principles and a high sense of integrity I found it hard to turn a blind eye to injustice, stupidity, and politics more so when individuals use their power for personal gain. My love for the game makes me ultra-defensive of the game. It’s like it’s my other child and I want nothing more than for the game to flourish. It’s provided me with so much that I feel a need to protect it. I see the game as I see myself and when the game gets abused, I feel abused. I have now come to learn that one must see the game and the world for what it is and not for how I see myself as we all have our own models of reality and it is only when you try to see things from someone else’s perspective that you start to realise how much ego plays a part in how we allow our emotions to control us.
After five years of coaching senior football I decided that was enough, the week I withdrew my services I was tapped on the shoulder at church. “Aren’t you Gus Cerro”, I heard the gentlemen behind me say. We spoke outside after the service and it was from this chance encounter that the school began. The school gave me an opportunity to stay connected to the game and I soon realized that coaching children were something I was good at. Being a big kid myself it was easy to connect with children, It quickly gave me purpose and my passion for the game returned but in a brand new light. As a business I ran the school on emotion, after a while I began to realize my job was not only to improve the game but more importantly to help people, to nurture children’s self-confidence and create an environment where they could work towards their goals. The philosophy quickly evolved when I started to the see the educational and human side of the game within children and how through our vision and mission statement it was becoming an incredibly powerful tool to provide a platform for children to develop good character traits. We started to realize we could facilitate an environment which was based on holistic principles. Principles are laws that govern our morals values, we also started to experience many injustices in the youth system, lots of people who through a lack of understanding and ultimately limited football and teaching education where acting in their own interest and disempowering young minds which was leading many children to the point of quitting the game altogether. It still happens today because there is still a severe lack of education for parents and coaches and more importantly club officials. We still have a situation were people with no football experience are making key decisions.
Since then try as I might I could not find the formula to turn this small business into a larger business. I had no idea how to grow the business and I did it for passion with a heavy emotional attachment. Over the years I have received calls from people enquiring about coaching for their kids. I would say that I turned away at least 80% of them. Not to mention pushing many of the ones who did come away by imposing rules to protect the loyalist. Whilst that has worked to great effect on the ones who have stayed long term it hasn’t really helped me to help more kids. I guess you can say that I was doing it for the right reasons the wrong way.
Then after five years of running the school, I began to wonder if I could transition into football full time, As stated previously sooner or later the emotional burdens that are easy to deal with at first start to become heavier and heavier. Then in 2012, we traveled to Spain for the second time on our football education and cultural tours. During the trip, my business partner managed to pull off a miracle and organized for us to meet Lionel Messi and watch the Barcelona team train. In disbelief of what had happened, the next day asked him how he managed it. He went on to explain that over the past 14 years he had set down goals and had achieved every one of them. He then said something that has stuck with me ever since. “Gus in life anything is possible”. I believe those words and the events that unfolded ultimately started a revolution within me. I was so inspired that as soon as I got home I started to work on a way to get out of my media business and into my school full time. For the longest time, I kept making so many excuses why I couldn’t do it. Now I started to find reasons why I could. It wasn’t long before I did.
During that time my wife had become my daughter’s full-time music manager, in two short years, she managed to get my daughter a publishing deal and a recording contract with Sony music via Wonderlink Management. She was, to say the least, a machine. Day and night she researched and studied everything there is to know about the music industry. I remember one-day thinking if my wife can do that without any knowledge of the industry just by educating herself then perhaps I could do the same thing for the kids in my school in an industry I know back to front. I spent the next day and a half writing and producing a new program that I would offer to my brightest prospects. We had created a company called Jeti Management for our girl’s music and hence Jeti Sports Management Football division was born. Through this program, I created systems for the players to use in their development. I began offering morning sessions and I started to research and study as much as could about mental toughness. Setting goals and having a strategy to achieve those goals. Little did I know that this research would also change my life! The program has had great success with many of the players involved. We have a number of young boys knocking on the door of first grade teams, one recently selected in a national team and another has recently moved to join Italian club FC Bologna.
Tyler Govoni spent 5 years with us before being signed by FC Bologna.
For change to happen you must create a new map or a new paradigm that helps you stay on course. With the wrong map, you may never reach your intended destination.
Soon after I had a very traumatic time with my father becoming ill. He sadly passed away and this affected me greatly. My daughters had already become vegetarian and were urging me to do the same. When my Dad left I realized that much of his illness was hereditary but very preventable. This was my second paradigm shift. Soon after I turned Vegan and vowed I would not end up waiting to die from ill health, I’d like to go on my terms when I’m ready and eating healthy is just one small part of the bigger picture, eradicating stress and worry is part two, something which is much harder to conquer.
Through all my research I had started to learn that emotions are nothing more the negative and positive vibrations. Water illustrates how our own intentions may even alter the material world. This has been demonstrated by Dr. Masaru Emoto,
We all hold certain vibrational frequency, and our bodies are estimated to be about 60% water. Given the above experiments, it stands to reason that musical frequencies could also alter our own vibrational state. Every expression through sound, emotion, or thought holds a specific frequency which influences everything around it—much like a single drop of water can create a larger ripple effect in a large body of water. Through conscious awareness, we are more than capable of controlling our emotions and our words/language can have a very powerful effect on ourselves as well as other people.
Learning to control your emotions helps you to live a more positive and fulfilling life. The seven habits of highly effective people have taught me that habit one perhaps the most important is to be pro-active as opposed to reactive. To be proactive is to recognize the space between stimulus and response and in that space lies our hopes and dreams our power to choose how we feel at any given moment.
Whilst all this learning/awakening was happening I still had no idea how to run a business properly. I realized that I did not own a business, I owned a job and if I stopped working for whatever reason everything would most likely just disappear. Through reading, watching and listening to many podcasts, documentaries, and talks. I opened a library membership and started to borrow. I found a book online via youtube called “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho. I’d heard Will Smith the actor say that he’d read it and it had affected change in his life. He was right the book began to create yet another new paradigm. Inspired, I began to seek out my omens, to follow them and that meant I had to read more. The more I read and learn the more I realize how little I know.
This was to start a reading frenzy. In life you always have these defining moments, this was one of them. Since then I have been devouring books. I learned that we all learn in different ways and that there are seven different types of intelligence, different ways in which people learn! I learned that school mostly focuses on two of those intelligence, verbal-linguistic and mathematical-logical. I also learned that our schooling system does not adequately prepare our children for the real world. At best it teaches them to find a job and earn a living, but what if your child is not academic like me, are they to be left behind? The world is changing very, very fast! The most important lesson by far is that is that there are always three sides to a coin. Unity is plural and at minimum two. Knowing this has taught me to become more tolerant and I have started to practice the art of listening more! At school they teach you to read and write but do they teach you to listen or do we just expect to know how one should listen, today’s kids are growing up in a very different world, attention spans are decreasing as technology offers constant stimulation? We allow our kids to utilize technology and in doing so we are allowing them to become addicted to technology. Every time they get a text or receive a like they get a hit of dopamine, today unlike my era kids are connected twenty-four seven, there is hardly any opportunity for quiet time, kids today are not too sure what boredom means!
The most important lesson of all from everything that has come to pass for me these past few years is to try to live a life of principles and values. I now know exactly what Foundation Football represents, it represents learning, growth, relationships, physical and mental health, leadership opportunities and much much more, we want to reach as many kids as possible and nurture their love for the game. We want to educate as many people about the game so that it can be a safe place for kids to grow, to connect, to build self-esteem and to encourage a healthy lifestyle. The OECD has statistics showing that by 2020 Australia’s obesity rate will be as high as 60% of the population. Imagine the cost of healthcare the number of people who will die young from preventable diseases. Currently, suicide is the leading cause of death among people 15-44 years of age and remains the leading cause of premature mortality in Australia, occurring at a rate of 11.7 deaths per 100,000 people. football provides a platform to counter the effects of depression and through service to others, I have found purpose through a game that saves lives.
These three words are very important to how our mission and vision works:
Dependant – signifies “you”, it’s your fault, you need to look after me, you’re responsible for me
Independent – signifies “I“, I am responsible, I will work hard I will find a way.
Interdependent – signifies “we”, we will work together and we will find a way.
Dependence on anything is a concern, especially things that alter your mental state, people who are able of body and have abilities of mind must first learn to be independent. You cannot be interdependent until you first learn independence. Society cannot function without cooperation which is interdependence, in football, no one should rely solely on others. Team synergy relies on a player’s individual brilliance; coupled with the team’s mission through unity and cooperation in order to solve problems. In a football team, there is no test that pits teammate against teammates. Most businesses require teamwork in order for the business to succeed. School, unfortunately, is based on a model of testing which means anyone caught co-operating is punished (cheating). It operates on an “I win principle” rather than a “we win principle” Imagine a world where everyone is taught that in order to succeed you need to beat everyone else. This is how many corporations are structured. The winner or CEO gets the most reward! This mentality creates a society of need and greed rather than holistic governing principles.
Our economic values are based on profit and growth rather than sustainability. Our education system was originally created in order to fulfill the needs of the industrial revolution, today many schools operate on the same notion even though we are now in the knowledge worker age, it’s about teaching conformity, and leaving your child with just enough knowledge to find a job, but life is about more than economics, we are not adequately allowing our children to learn all aspects of life, today more than ever we are having an epidemic of children needing psychological help. In many cases, we are prescribing drugs to children simply because we don’t know how to deal with them. There is a massive increase of ADHD, attention deficit but could it be that this is just the side effect of all the technological stimulation available today. When do kids get to switch off? When I was a kid after six pm I had no contact with friends I had to find ways to spend my time on my own quietly, with my family, dreaming and playing on my own, today kids are texting each other at midnight or are scrolling on their Facebook feeds trying to get likes, whilst looking at the world through filters. As for the economic system, the government’s solution is inflation and more taxes. Larger populations = more taxes and more consumption while all along offering billion dollar corporations tax cuts when they are already paying next to nothing. Right now the human race is acting like a virus. Consuming, destroying our environment and using up resources so we can continue to spend, spend, spend in order to keep the economy growing with inflation and more taxes. What we need is a generation of problem solvers, not problem creators. A return to when politicians worked for the people instead of lobbyist and corporations.
Through the game, we teach children about life’s governing structures. I explain it to them this way. Football is like a house. A house before it’s built requires a plan. The base of the house then needs strong foundations. The framework is then central to its integrity and structure, the roof locks it all in and the end product is a stable and well-built home.
In Football the plan is first and foremost an educational pathway. This requires special attention to the soil, learning is organic, not linear so if you only concentrate on the plant you will never truly have a system of learning which has a solid foundation. The foundations represent a player’s mindset. The greater their emotional intelligence the stronger a team’s foundations are. On a football level, it is all about individual ability and skill level, balance coordination and technique, taught in both isolated practices and through game-based learning. The frame represents health, fitness, relationships, and communication, on a football level, it is about the system and style of play. The methodology or the learning model of how the game is to be played. Our framework is based on our geometric shapes, that of which begins and ends with a triangle. A triangle is the strongest shape that can hold its own integrity. A triangle cannot collapse and fold. Through our geometric system, we create triangles with integrity all over the pitch. Once the players learn the basic principles of this shape and team structure their foundations allow the team to operate at the highest level of efficiency. The end result or the mission represents the roof or the end product. Teaching children to work in co-operation through collaboration improves their problem-solving abilities. Within the game, emotional intelligence ranks as the highest priority as in football you have an environment where initially failure is what leads to success. If you try to avoid failure in the early development process the structure and foundations will lack integrity. As the game evolves triangles collapse and players must reassemble the triangles whilst the game is in progress. The roof represents putting all the aspects of learning into place, it locks in the frame that is supported by strong foundations.
We facilitate the environment for the players to produce creatively, with flair and in doing so the game produces sequences of beautiful rhythmic play. When it all comes together what you get is a show capable of producing inspiration and happiness to the masses.
I guess what happened to me was the realisation that there must be more to life than working and paying bills, it was in a way a spiritual awakening, a paradigm shift when you discover that the things you thought would make you happy are not those things at all. A big house, fancy cars and expensive toys. What fulfils is a life with purpose, finding one’s purpose is not easy for some they never truly find it? Perhaps due to dogma, conformity or most likely fear, fear that it may not work, fear of ridicule, of losing. What we all need is certainty, (a safe place to live, three meals a day), uncertainty, (risks, adventure, and change), feeling important (valued, wanted), love and connection,(relationships, friends) growth, (expanding your circle of influence through work, career and relationships) and contribution. (giving back, contributing to society in a positive way) If any of these six human needs are missing you will find something else to fill the void, this is when we develop addictions, smoking, drinking, eating, drugs etc.
Knowledge is power but only when it is holistic and shared and it is our responsibility to fill young minds with past, present and future knowledge, we do this by building their self-esteem through their love for the game. In turn the game creates an environment where the process delivers an educational model based on synergy.
I'm a former professional footballer, part-time blogger, football fanatic, sporting director of Foundation Football. Father of two brilliant musicians, ideas man, inventor, a drone pilot, handy with a lightsaber and lifelong partner to my soul mate. My views and opinions are my own and you're all entitled to them.