Richard Wood column: Winning is everything, says Millers defender ... even at Mario Kart!

'The person that said winning isn't everything, never won anything.'

Thursday, 3rd November 2016, 11:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 3:48 pm
Richard Wood goes all out for a win at Ipswich last weekend

This brilliant quote from Mia Hamm, a former female American football player, is featured in an exhibition at the National Football Museum in Manchester, which I visited with my children during the half term holidays last week.

This, to me, not only refers to football and sport, but life in general, and I have always had this mentality.

I pointed the quote out and explained it to my two young boys, as I want my children to grow up hungry to succeed and driven to do well in life.

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If you have that burning desire to win, then ultimately you will stand a better chance of succeeding rather than accepting you won’t.

I for one am a firm believer in this quote and believe the winning mentality should be encouraged from an early age and is something that is built up over time. At school, coming first in something should be appreciated and high standards need to be set and aimed for.

I don’t like to see school sports days where everyone gets a sticker and there are no winners. Every child has different capabilities, so if a child excels at sport and not academically then sports day is their chance to shine and be rewarded for winning a race and achieving something.

I understand and accept you can’t win all the time and things aren’t always going to go your way. If you don’t succeed then you need to learn from this, not get too down and strive to do better, not accept mediocrity, and never give up. That is the sign of a true winner and I hope my children grow up with this mind-set.

I think nearly every footballer I’ve come across has that competitive edge and desire to win. They wouldn’t be professional footballers otherwise. They would never have made it in the game. Every day, training is a competition ... racing with a teammate to be first to the ball, which team wins the five-a-side, who does the most pull-ups in the gym, who can hold the longest in a plank position.

Every little thing turns into a contest to see who comes out on top.

The lads have even taken competition and the winning mentality to a completely different level by playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo DS. There’s a good group of us who bring them along now when we travel away.

Last Friday on the way down to Ipswich we had grown men at the back of the bus, me included, going crazy when winning a race or shouting and cursing at the little hand-held machines when you don’t.

It passed the time quickly, but if you could see us at the back of that bus then you’ll see how competitive we all are.

These contests and competitions, no matter how small drive, you to succeed, and give you that extra incentive to perform better. A great example is when we had to do 1500-metre runs in pre-season. I know for a fact that I would get a much better time running with the rest of the squad compared to running on my own. This is because I want to beat the lads and try to come in first place.

All these little things, some as strange and bizarre as they are, bring out the best in players, and it’s what is needed on a Saturday afternoon when the most important thing is up for grabs: a victory and three points.

Winning is everything! There is no better feeling or high that compares.