Leadership Lab: Japan’s World Cup Class

Leadership Lab - Japan's World Cup Class
"What a shining example of a sport fanbase, players and coach demonstrating the meaning of class."

At the time of writing this piece, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be hosting its semi-finals.

In one semi-final, 2018 Champion France will be taking on the upstart Moroccan side, and the other semi-final has the finalists from 2018, Croatia, playing perennial powerhouse Argentina.

Now Croatia and Morocco, if you can recall, were in the same division as Canada, so to see these two teams with the possibility of squaring off in the finals, makes these games all the more interesting.

After the initial group stage, Croatia defeated Japan on penalties. This was a tough blow to the Japanese as they had beaten former world champs in Spain and Germany to get to the Round of 16.

What has made their particular run noteworthy is the manner in which their fans, players and coaches conducted themselves throughout their stay in Qatar.

After each of Japan’s games, their fans cleaned the stands as a show of gratitude to the host stadium. Each were given garbage bags upon seating, and widespread pictures showed multitudes of people walking out of each game with bags of garbage to be disposed of.

After each game, the players cleaned their dressing rooms and left them in better condition than what they found them in. Again, a show of gratitude to their hosts.

Lastly, images shown across the globe showing their Head Coach, Hajime Moriyasu, approaching the stands of the Japanese fans and bowing to them in a show of gratitude and thanks for their support. This is known as ‘Saikeirei.’

What a shining example of a sport fanbase, players and coach demonstrating the meaning of class. This is a fantastic reflection on a society.

Would it not be great if we in the game of hockey can instill these types of values, of gratitude, graciousness, and class into our eco-system?


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Chris De Piero

Chris is a Senior High-Performance Coach and has spent the past 30+ years in the game of hockey as a player, Head Coach, General Manager, scout, mentor, consultant and most importantly as a parent. He has done so in the NHL, with Hockey Canada, in the OHL and the OHA, as well as European pro hockey. In addition, he has spent 15+ years as a classroom teacher as well as being in leadership positions as an administrator with a private high school in Toronto.

Chris has coached over 100 players who have played and/or been drafted into the NHL, and 100+ players who have gone on to play NCAA or USport hockey. He has won multiple championships as a Head Coach and GM, notably winning a Stanley Cup ring from being a member of the scouting staff of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2012-2016.

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