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March 26, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
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Nothin’ But Net: What Makes A Leader

Allow me to start with a confession: I once surfed an American sports site.

It featured an article about football or rugby or something, and what I recall was how odd they thought it was that the said sport had captains: “a very English thing,” they said.

To show my disagreement, I feel this is a good time to wax lyrical about what makes a good captain.

First, they should be good at their job. Every captain should be an automatic selection into their team. As one of the world’s best flankers, Richie McCaw is great in this regard. If a cricketer isn’t terrible, that makes him a candidate for the Black Caps.

When the coach’s job is done, it’s onto the captain to get the best out of their players. For that, they need the respect of the entire squad, which is why you rarely see a junior player carrying the armband.

This often comes from being good at one’s job, but personality is also important. Sonny Bill Williams will never captain a team no matter how well he plays; he’s just not the kind of guy you look to for inspiration.

The American writers may not like to admit it, but their sports have some great figureheads too. Drew Brees is the only white guy who can pump up his team and still look cool. But my favourite is Ray Lewis. Look him up on YouTube—he is godlike (actually, that’s selling Ray short).

The ability to lead by example is also important. When things aren’t going well, you want a guy to say, “Give me the ball, this one’s mine, bitches.” Richie McCaw and MS Dhoni spring to mind with their abilities to step up like this.

How they conduct themselves off the field is also important. They represent their team and community. It baffles me that John Terry is still Chelsea’s captain; aside from sleeping with his teammates’ partners, calling an opponent a “black cunt” is hardly reputable.

Other things do spring to mind–like negotiating with officials. But on this criteria, it’s guys like Steven Gerrard, Richie McCaw or Andrew Durante that I regard as some of the best leaders in world sports.

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