A Real Women and a Great Leader

-- Anil Pokhrel / प्रकाशित मिति : मङ्लबार, साउन १५, २०७५

FIFA World cup 2018 was one of the astonishing one in many years for me. World cup favourites including defending champion were out and minnows kept winning. England making to semi-final, Russia to the quarters beating Spain in Round of 16 and Croatia to the FINAL! Big names such as Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar failing to progress, VAR dramas, Celebration at Brighton Beach after England’s goal were highlights of the event but the most special moment for me is the leadership shown by real women and great leader, Croatian President Her Excellency Kolinda Grabar- Kitarovic. Along with great goals, missed chances, her humility will last forever on our minds and will always be remainder of great leadership.

France football team was gifted by pace and skills as they were patrolling the most youngest team in world cup pitches but the passion and desperation to win from one of the youngest country in the tournament, Croatia, is deeply appealing. With the final whistle battle was over French celebration and Croatian tears followed, stand shared the emotions and the event that drove the world was over. Modric Mbappe, Kane were crowned stars with Golden ball, Young player and Golden boot. But for me there was one Super star, Croatian President H E Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic ! What she did during the Croatian football team’s journey in FIFA World cup was truly inspirational, magically influential.

Being a President She travelled by economy class to join her fellow citizens in stadium. She watched games from normal stand till she was recognised and moved to VIP box. She is the President of Croatia she could have easily managed the VIP box out there but she chooses to do what normal citizen did. In the world of today when leaders seek special privileges on public places such as road, hospital what she has done is simply amazing. For people like me from South Asian background where leaders literally bully public in the name of road clearance and security skirting the first lesson is regardless what position you hold when you out there, you become the inspiration for them.

I have seen few head of the state and governments watching games in the stadium. They are in the VIP box but not a real spectator; they are outweighed by the burden of hierarchy and protocols. After the semi-final win, President Kolinda had no hesitation, self-judgement she danced with her National team, celebrating and cheering with them. Imagine what would be the impact on entire team to have that genuine love and support from your President. She was less president and more of cheer leader. She was not on high profile corporate attire rather wore Croatian jersey for every match. Social media was simply flooded with her passion and energy. The most important thing is as a leader she gets involved so deeply in the game and showed how much it matters at the end of the day. No matter what the norms are when you do things do with your whole heart that even people around you get inspired. As a leader you set up the benchmark!

At the final presentation ceremony, President Kolinda hugged every player of both team, the coaches and congratulated them whole heartedly. What a way to accept defeat with joy. A sign of maturity – many leaders out there has yet to learn. I have never seen a President embracing an entire sport team on behalf of country. It was so genuine and authentic; I literally had tears in my eyes. I personally think only women bring this special aspect of leadership. Being generous to the team when they are down, uplift their confidence and let them know you will always stand firm for team.

She was simply adorable, I was thinking less about France celebration more of carried away with her unprecedented leadership. When rain ruined a moment she stayed tall and strong down there in line with President Putin and Macron. She was so humble and gracious in defeat hugging every French player. But on the other hand umbrella came to cover Putin within couple of seconds of pouring. No fuss, no demands, sharing hugs and kisses. The more I looked at her more I felt in love with her. The lesson I have learnt from this amazing lady is regardless of who you are what you do matters in leadership.

Dear President, you are the super star of FIFA 2018 and I am sure there are millions out there who watched you will feel in same way. Undoubtedly Croatia has won our heart playing on football pitches but you have won our hearts just watching them play.

( Pictures are retrieved from online sources)