Seizing Opportunities: A Matter of Mind

The Netherlands have done well at the top sporting level for decades. Look at how many athletes and women have achieved success on the highest podium – even compared to major countries such as the US, China, Germany and Great Britain, Dutch athletes are doing quite well. The champions who have made the Netherlands proud, such as judokas from Anton Jesink to Kim Bowling, kickboxers such as Ernesto Host, Ryan Simpson and Richard Krajesek and the teams I think of in particular are the National Hockey Teams, which have won numerous titles for both men and women. It’s a random selection from an almost endless series.

Max Verstappen is the latest in a long line of successful Dutch athletes. He was passionate from an early age and developed a winning mentality which he put into practice. And when he had the opportunity, he took the opportunity to make history. Because that’s what you train for as an athlete: getting the most out of it, breaking records, winning trophies, losing, and when everyone has already written you off, come back stronger. Always find a reason to be the best version of yourself.

The world of football can learn a lot from that. But in the sport that involves the most money, it is often more difficult to develop and maintain a winning mindset naturally compared to other sports.

Date-making opportunities don’t come around often, but it’s easier to seize them when you’re comfortable with a winning mentality – if they’re part of your DNA. Verstappen has seized this opportunity, and it will make a huge difference for the rest of his career. If I hadn’t had that opportunity, nothing would have happened. Then the disappointment about second place and losing the world title may not have been great, because he did everything he could to win. Disappointingly, he would only have seen that absolute chance but he made no attempt to pass Lewis Hamilton at the last minute. Seeing opportunities and seizing them, that’s all there is to it.

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The Dutch national team managed to qualify for the World Cup against Montenegro last month, but surprisingly gave up its 2-0 lead. This was a huge opportunity, and the Netherlands missed it. Fortunately, there was one last chance to qualify for Qatar 2022, and Orange snatched it up against Norway. The match against Montenegro remains an interesting subject. If I were Louis van Gaal, with that game in mind, I would have worked more specifically on the mentality to take advantage of the opportunities: whether it was chances to score, giving a deep pass with risk or any other way a good result. That could make all the difference in going home with next year’s World Cup. Max Verstappen has shown that this is possible – if you believe in it and cultivate that winning mentality. Of course you should also get lucky, but with the right attitude, it will force it automatically.

Clarence Seedorf He is a former football player. Now he is a businessman, philanthropist and guest speaker.

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