Creativity, Culture and...Football

How creativity and culture challenged a team to change.

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In my work I use visualisation and creative exercises to help women to change their perspective and by doing so, change their life. The power of visualisation in sport has been well documented for improving performance; if we can visualise success, we can create success.

As well as being a creativity and mindfulness coach, I am also a football fan (Crystal Palace). I love the atmosphere at the game and watching a goal go in just a few feet away is an incredible feeling. I don’t live in London any more so when I do get to a match it is all the more exciting. But for the most part now I watch on TV, often with my husband (Liverpool).

What’s this got to do with creativity and culture? Well…

Recently my husband and I were watching a European match between Arsenal and Swedish side Ostersund, whom I’d never heard of before. A tiny team from a remote part of Sweden, Ostersund had somehow beaten Arsenal in the first leg and were now trying to maintain their lead to remain in the Europa league. Just getting to this stage was a feat in itself and we wondered how they’d done it. A bit of investigating revealed a wonderful and interesting story, which I wanted to share:

Ostersund’s manager Graham Potter is a former Southampton player who took over at Ostersund seven years ago when they were in the fourth tier of Swedish football, at the bottom of the entire league. As well as being a football player, Graham Potter has a masters degree in social sciences which enabled him to take a different approach to football management. Together with Daniel Kindberg, the club’s chairman they have created a ‘culture academy’ which focuses on holistic development to ‘develop the depth of a person’. Where most clubs focus on developing the players, Ostersund develop the people first and the confidence and self-belief they gain from this then translates onto the pitch. Evidently.

Without a budget to expand their team, Ostersund took players who had been rejected from other clubs and nurtured them through creativity to achieve success and believe in themselves. Inside the culture academy all the team put on live, public performances, it is compulsory for all the staff members to join in with the players and management.

Among other creative endeavours, the club have celebrated the indigenous Sami people through the medium of hip-hop, put on a production of Swan Lake - yes, a production of Swan Lake! They performed a gala concert in solidarity with refugees, the opening of which had the manager singing the Lapland national anthem in a local dialect, which is exactly the kind of challenge that has encouraged the players and team to grow. By being removed from their comfort zones, the team realised what they were capable of and believed they could achieve much more. They weren't wrong!

Ostersund eventually capitulated to Arsenal’s power but their amazing achievement goes to show the power of challenging yourself creatively. Time to get out of that comfort zone I think!

If you’d like to challenge yourself creatively, start by downloading your free creative meditation HERE and shine the spotlight on yourself. What do you believe you can achieve?

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Sophie Walker

Mindful Creativity Practitioner, Artist and Writer., Attentive Art

I'm an Artist who studied psychology and mindfulness to help myself overcome some of life's challenges. Now I help others to do the same using creativity and psychology. I believe creativity holds the key to the enjoyment of life and I want to help everyone to feel good about yourself and your life.