NHS Lecture Recap: ‘Beyond the Achievements’

“It’s okay to fail as long as you learn from it.”

Mr. Frédéric Kanouté delivering his talk online via Teams

Last Tuesday, Mr. Frédéric Kanouté gave an inspiring talk to the Marymount community, sharing the lessons he learned through his career in sports. For those who don’t know, Mr. Kanouté is a former professional footballer, who has played in some of the biggest football leagues in the worldLigue 1, La Liga, English Premier League, and Chinese Super Leagueand has won many major tournaments including Copa del Ray and UEFA Cup. Mr. Kanouté is now an ambassador for La Liga, and to this day, remains the highest scoring foreign player in Sevilla, the club he played for in La Liga. In short, he’s a legend! 

The central message of the talk that Mr. Kanouté emphasized throughout was the importance of genuine love towards what you want to pursue as your career. He described football as a “companion in [his] journey” that gave him a reason to keep going even when everything seemed frustrating.  

He noted, however, that resilient and optimistic mindset is as equally crucial as passion and drive: we should recognize that “it’s okay to fail as long as you learn from it.” Mr. Kanouté talked about one of his earliest experiences with failure, which was when he was (almost) released from the youth football academy due to his injuryHe recalled that hearing about the release, he felt like [his] dreams [have been] crushed. Although it turned out to be an error in the database and he didn’t get released, he said that this was a challenge that taught him that regardless of the amount of dedication, the encounter with struggles and setbacks are inevitable, hence knowing how to deal with failure and how to overcome the resultant disappointment is very important. 

When asked whether he would’ve done anything differently in his career, he had no hesitation in saying “what is past is past and thus he does not want to change anything. He noted that he grew through the challenging times, hence he would gladly make the same mistakes to learn the lessons he wouldn’t have been taught otherwise. 

One other piece of advice Mr. Kanouté gave was suggesting that we catch every opportunity presented to us with confidence. He mentioned this one specific moment when he volunteered to play in a position that he didn’t really train for. Of course, this wasn’t a thoughtless, spontaneous decision; it was a show of confidence based on the positioning flexibility that he developed playing football on the streets as a child. This quick decision gave him the chance to show his potential to the world, and he did. He in fact performed so well that he continued to play in that position in following matches, replacing the original player who Mr. Kanouté was initially substituting for. 

Despite being a world-renowned athlete with astonishing achievements, Mr. Kanouté remains humble, so he can “recognize another step that [he] can reach” as a person. His biggest ambition at the moment is to share meaningful stories with others and give back to the world that allowed him to flourish as an athlete.