“Right Reasons” by Headstrong

“Sometimes things fall apart so better things can fall together”. These were the words that echoed off the walls of Villager FC as the players of the 2014 season sat down to discuss how they would begin to tackle a another season in the increasingly daunting WP Super B League. Understanding the renowned history of the club and the reputation that it carries throughout the world, the players knew if they were to restore the pride of their club, they would need to embark on a journey of epic proportions. The challenge of what lay ahead couldn’t have been greater and the games of 2014, regardless of their outcome, would have far reaching consequences for Villager FC.

Almost five months later, with 9 wins from 9 heading into Derby Day, a club that only months ago was on the brink of collapse, has pulled together and achieved something magical. While there are an array of factors, and people, that have contributed towards Villager’s success this season, one element has been priority right from the start. 5 simple words that resonate among the players on a daily basis at Villager FC, “Playing For The Right Reasons”.

With the club deciding to relinquish its professional status, thereby refusing to no longer pay players, the coaching staff realised that a very specific environment needed to be created and maintained for the players who were going to be part of the 2014 journey. At the core of this environment lay the “right reasons” mentality. The opportunity to play at Villager FC now comes with a completely different appeal to the offerings of many clubs in the professional era: the chance to be part of re-building the Village FC legacy and re-cementing our historical position at the top of South African Rugby. This revised approach resulted in attracting players who truly loved the sport, wanted to play for the ideals of sportsmanship, camaraderie and the family spirit of club rugby that had for so long been associated with the Brookside. Taking the bold step to break with popular practice, and asking players to think deeply about their motivation for playing, the “right reasons”
approach was birthed.

Incidentally, the direction that Villager has decided on for its club and players is one that connects very strongly with the science behind human motivation. This insightful video, Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc) , with over 12 million views, illustrates Dan Pink’s summary of the research into the most effective motivating factors. And guess what? Money isn’t one of them. Instead, autonomy, mastery and purpose are the most powerful motivators. Three things that are at the heart of “right reasons” rugby.

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Stuart Pattison is the founder and managing director of Headstrong, a business that believes in helping athletes of all levels reach their potential using the latest developments in sport and performance psychology. Through Headstrong, Stuart has worked alongside current Villager coach Andrew Hughes for some years now, and was immediately attracted to the challenge of returning Villager to its previous heights. Stuart and his colleague Mike McInerney are the current performance coaches for the club, facilitating mental skills conditioning for the players, strategic and psychological consulting for the coaching staff, and assisting in the creation of a high performance environment. Over the next few weeks the Headstrong team will take you through the creation of this high performance environment and provide some insight into how exactly “Playing For The Right Reasons” produces the results it does.

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