“Anyone can train to be a gladiator. What marks you out is having the mindset of a champion.”
Often, there’s a timeless frame of thought among football aficionados that pre-season for their favourite teams is a time for fun and games.
This is so untrue. The days of regarding pre-season as merely an exercise session where footballers exchange dialects of downtime with their families is over. Today, the modern era footballers’ progress over a rigorous season is germinated in the pre-season preparation his set-up affords him or her.
Be it any coach, ala Diego Simeone or Unai Emery or Thomas Tuchel, any player – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Adrian Rabiot – architects of the game hold a steadfast impetus on honing themselves ahead of the pressure one faces week in, week out in any football league.
Frankly put – Champions are honed in the tender weeks before they kick their campaigns in pursuit of silverware off. Fitness and conditioning, team dynamics, individual quadrants of performance and improvement, dietary constraints and fulfilments etc are poured over minute-by-minute in an effort to ensure the footballers are in the right frame of physical and mental rigidity to greet the season head-on.
Therefore, in an era where these intense six weeks are fraught over, the International Champions Cup (ICC) provides the perfect recipe for players to prepare earnestly and with renewed focus on becoming the best in the world while facing up to other contenders themselves.
Played between July 20th and August 12th this year, the tournament promises more explosive matches and feisty pre-season tiffs with the world’s best teams all participating in the four waves over three continents and 22 cities.
The ICC, established in 2012, hasn’t ceased to widen the eyes of football lovers over the world, with footballers of incredible pedigree all fighting to get game time and improve their skill (this year, Singapore is one of the venues)
In that sense, the ICC is one of a kind. From the very foundations of the tournament, players from the world over have chosen it as a battleground to pit their wits against the best in the business in order to observe, replicate and improve their own methods.
The fast flow of games over the short tournament pushes physical fitness trainers and conditioners to aid players to push their limits from the very go itself. Coaches perceive the strengths and weakness of their lieutenants on the pitch and seek to eliminate all chinks in their armour as they face-off against rivals who’ll end up fighting for them on the big stage itself.
The tremendous turnout of audiences from various nationalities in support of their favourite stars and teams gives the tournament its unique edge too.
The tournament’s motto, akin to a congregation of champions sets up a winner’s mentality for the players that could be replicated time after time in their season. Whether a team ends up winning a treble or just a solitary runners-up medal, the ICC provides them budding ground to test out its champions.
The ICC has the perfect conditions for a player to harness all the opportunities granted to him to set in motion a grand plan to expedite his development throughout the season.
And that is why pre-season with the ICC looming is the perfect honing ground for champions.