With the surprising rise of the underdogs and moving displays of national pride, World Cup 2022 has been quite the show! Whether or not you caught the finals on 18 December, here are some remarkable moments from the matches and the lessons they can teach us about life.

#1 It doesn’t matter if you win or lose—do it with dignity

Japan made headlines not just because of the team’s stunning 2-1 victory over the four-time World Cup winners, Germany, but also for their display of outstanding sportsmanship. Post-game, towels were tidily folded, water bottles and food containers neatly stacked. And their fans did the same—taking care to clean up the bleachers after the match and inspiring other countries to follow suit.

Significantly, this courtesy isn’t just saved for when Japan wins. Back in 2018 at the World Cup in Russia, the team did the same after losing to Belgium. The Samurai Blues might be out of the quarter-finals this round, but they’re true winners in our hearts!

#2 There are many ways to follow your dreams

Singapore football team might not have made it to the World Cup yet, but did you know that over the years, we’ve had five Singaporeans officiate at the matches? This year, Muhammad Taqi Aljaafari Jahari made the cut—becoming the only Southeast Asian referee at World Cup 2022.

His journey began at just 16 years old and as others were angling to make it to the national team, his love for football drew him into refereeing instead. It’s taken him two decades to reach this milestone, but his story is one that demonstrates there are many ways for one’s passion to play out, and that with perseverance, your efforts can and will pay off.

#3 In the game of life, expect the unexpected

Watching crowd's favourites like Argentina be defeated by Saudi Arabia, Germany by Japan and Wales by Iran is enough evidence that in football, just like in life, everyone has a fighting chance.

What is more important, perhaps, is to not give up. After all, in the Brazil versus Croatia game, one would have expected Brazil to win when Neymar put them in the lead during extra-time. But Croatia fought on and Bruno Petkovic equalised with five minutes left to spare—bringing the teams into the decisive shoot-out where his team emerged victorious. This brings us to the next point…

#4 Be kind, because compassion speaks volumes

More talked about than Brazil’s exit might be the heartwarming way the match ended. While superstar Neymar was heartbroken and in tears, Croatian star player Ivan Perisic’s son ran to the field to console him with a handshake and hug.

We’re not sure what was more moving: The young boy’s act of compassion, or the grace with which Neymar responded—waving away the security and his tears to accept the boy’s comfort.

#5 Hold on to what matters most

It isn’t always winning. Because while glory and medals may have their appeal, when England footballer Raheem Sterling found out his house was robbed, he chose to leave the World Cup 2022 and return home to care for his spouse and three young children.

With such high stakes, it was undeniably a difficult decision to make, but as his manager Gareth Southgate so aptly put it: “Sometimes football isn’t the most important thing, family should come first.” These are no doubt wise words that we can all remember, no matter where we are in life.