Public Officers As Football Players

Catch no ball? Ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Challenge explains the football roles on the pitch for public officers who don’t always follow “the beautiful game”.
Wingers operate on the flanks, providing both defensive and attack support.

Wingers operate on the flanks, providing both defensive and attack support. They are quick to seize opportunities, but can also exercise patience. Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi is known for spending the first few minutes of a game just walking around, seemingly uninterested. But he uses this time to survey the opponent’s defensive tactics so he knows how best to strike.

Similar traits can be found in public officers who work in marketing and innovation, who are always scanning for new frontiers. They stand out by acting so swiftly on opportunities to fill gaps in consumer demand that you might wonder: “Did they have time to think or are they just winging it?”

Good defenders have their people at the heart of their decisions.

Being a good defender requires as many mental traits as physical ones. Good defenders make other team players feel confident that someone has their back.

Public service agencies have advisors, board members and key appointment holders to help steer organisations in the right direction. With the assurance of having wide-ranging expertise for guidance, officers can focus on performing well in their roles. Good defenders have their people at the heart of their decisions.

A public officer as a goalkeeper stretching out to save a goal

Goalkeepers follow a different rule set, such as being able to use their hands within the penalty box. In this unique position, they contribute to the cause — to win the game. As the final line of defence, they also have to be vocal and decisive when organising the defenders in their team.

Like goalkeepers, many public officers contribute in unconventional ways. These officers are unafraid to speak up and bring in a different perspective, often from having varied experiences. These officers can save teams from potentially disastrous “own goals” at the last minute, warranting a collective cheer — “Nice save!”

A public officer in the spotlight doing a celebratory pose

Strikers lead the team’s attack and are responsible for scoring goals. Being more noticeable, they tend to get more praise compared to their teammates.

In the Public Service, these may be front-facing public officers who engage with citizens directly. Or they may be the most charming, knowledgeable person in a presentation to stakeholders.

Like strikers, these officers create the strongest impression on citizens through direct communication and are often praised as the “star players” of our Public Service.

A public officer standing in between two big, translucent brick walls

Defensive midfielders protect defenders from opposing attackers. Their job is rarely noticed, but pivotal for the team. Former defensive midfielder Gilberto Silva was known as “The Invisible Wall”. His contributions were often overlooked despite providing timely, consistent assistance.

Many public officers are just as unassuming yet equally important. Behind every “star player” is a team of faithful officers, such as facilities managers who ensure the workplace runs smoothly and personal assistants who “defend” their principals from conflicting schedules. These staff embody “no news is good news” — things are peaceful because they do their jobs well.

Fans watching at home or in the pub or even in the stadium  with various banners and team merch.

Football has many die-hard fans who know the game’s rules and a team’s legacy – their wins and losses – by heart. Among this roaring crowd, however, may be some in the audience who “catch no ball” and are just watching to have a good time or keep others company.

Thankfully, at the workplace, no public officer is here only to be a simple spectator… right?

    Nov 21, 2022
    Amos Ng
    Siti Maziah Masramli
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