Batuhan: Heart Strong: YNWA

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By Allan S. B. Batuhan

Foreign Exchange

Friday, March 21, 2014

DURING the last fortnight, we were treated to perhaps two great sporting spectacles – a couple of the best that have come our way – for quite some time. People always love the underdog, and the fact that both of these had the term “underdog” written all over them meant that they had the makings of sporting legends.

The first one happened closer to home, and at the collegiate level at that. An excerpted account of the event appears below (, 3/15/20).

“In a stunning finale to what has been a fairy tale run in the UAAP Season 76 women’s volleyball tournament, the Ateneo Lady Eagles won their first championship by sweeping archrivals De La Salle in the do-or-die Game 4 of the finals.


It was also the crowning moment of Ateneo coach Anusorn “Tai” Bundit, who was coaching the Lady Eagles for the first year. He instilled the “heart strong” mentality that carried Ateneo throughout the season and became the rallying cry of the Lady Eagles and their supporters all throughout.”

The other one is a fixture on a very global stage indeed. I am talking about the Liverpool – Manchester United derby game, which is watched and cheered by hundreds of millions of fans all over the world. For the record, Liverpool won the March 16 game by a thunderous scoreline of 3-0. Selected accounts from the match follows (BBC Sport, 17 March 2014).

“If Liverpool needed to deliver a defining mission statement that they can stand alongside any of the challengers for the Premier League title on their own terms, they produced it most emphatically to humiliate Manchester United in their own self-styled “Theatre Of Dreams.”

Forget 3-0. This game was not as close as the scoreline suggests.

While United’s decline under Moyes (Man Utd manager) has been sharp and startling, it would be wrong to suggest this played the major part in Liverpool’s success at Old Trafford. This was the work of Rodgers (Liverpool manager) and players he has filled with belief and freedom of expression.

As Moyes has struggled to coax anything out of United - how can a team containing Rooney, Van Persie, Mata and Adnan Januzaj be so utterly bereft of threat? - Liverpool are responding to Rodgers’s methods with such gusto that it could now give them the game’s greatest domestic prize.”

Notice the similarity between the two victories, where we can draw a lot of management insights from.

Both teams have a history of underperformance. Prior to what they had accomplished, they had been under the mercy of their adversaries, living under their shadow, if you will. Both also had teams that were – at least on paper – inferior to what their opponents had. But both achieved the seemingly impossible, which is to triumph against the odds.

But notice too, a common trait between them. In Ateneo’s case, it came via a man named Anusorn “Tai” Bundit, and in the instance of Liverpool, the main man is Brendan Rodgers, who has been responsible for Liverpool’s resurgence this season.

Watching the two at work, it seems as if they are not really the great tacticians people normally associate with victorious teams. All coach Tai ever seems to say in his timeouts, is “Be Happy” and “Heart Strong.” Rodgers is the same, whispering something to his players ears every time he gets the chance on the touchline, and patting their backs when they come back to the dugout.

Make no mistake, these men are by no means pansies. Their players swear that their training regimens are anything but easy. But note where the difference from the other exacting coaches lie – both are great man (or woman) managers. Both know how to get the best from their teams, which give them the cutting edge over the competition.

Something for aspiring managers to think about. It is not what you know and can impart to your teams that count. Rather, it is what you can impart to them, to make the most of what they already know.

Tai Bundit calls it “Heart Strong.” Liverpool fans chant “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

By whatever name, it does the same thing – make immortal champions out of mere mortals. ( &

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 22, 2014.


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