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Learn about our team mates experiences in cycling, whether it’s in real life, on Zwift, or both!


Aeonian Asabiyyah

Dec 6, 2021 | 0 comments

You know when you just come across something and it just strikes a chord? Well that’s what happened one Wednesday afternoon when I was sneaking out from work to do a quick errand.  Radio 4 was on in the car and I started listening to a programme about the Danish Football Team when they were called up to replace Yugoslavia in the 1992 Euros.  I would have normally zoned out and eventually given up my attempt at some culture and retuned to something playing cheesy 80s music, but I was able to relate to something I was and am experiencing when listening to the journey of this football team. 

It turns out that the Danish Team actually won the trophy against all odds having not actually qualified for the tournament, only getting the chance to play when conflict broke out in Yugoslavia. The team was coached by Richard Moller Nielsen who had a very unique coaching style that focused on the collective. In Nielsen’s team there was less space for individual brilliance and he focussed on players who wanted to play for each other; players who were willing to put the team’s interests above their own.

It immediately occurred to me that the Aeonian Racing Team (AEO) that I joined about a year ago has the same ethos as Nielsen.  We are all purely interested in the collective and the team management confirm this at each and every opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, we like to win and we have a number of top racers on both Zwift and in real life from all across the globe, but it’s ok if we don’t and we are all delighted to share in each other’s successes – win or lose.  Everyone is just as ready to celebrate someone’s improvement as they are to celebrate winning a league.

I was nervous about joining AEO initially as you have to submit an application.  Nothing too onerous but enough for them to check out you, your data and your equipment. Now I am part of the team I know that this information is shared with all the current members to have their say on what they think and to question and/or support your application.  Immediately this connects the team with the new person and we are all invested in them.  The application process made me feel that I would have to be deemed ‘good enough’ to join the team but this process is not elitist at all it aims to ensure that people with the right ethos join the team, and that ethos is work hard and play hard for one another and connect meaningfully with others.  We are social animals. We are wired to connect with people who share something in common.  Neilson knew that by emphasising shared purpose and connection he could release a more powerful teamwork. 

The programme goes on to discuss the New Zealand All Blacks and all of their traditions and how it’s their culture that makes them so successful. It also discusses Alex Ferguson’s role at Manchester United during the glory days and I understand he was using his influence as recently as this season to lure Christiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford, persuading him to come back to the family as opposed to going across town to Manchester City. It’s no surprise then that he scored twice on his return to Old Trafford 12 years after leaving the club

This morning the headlines following Tyrone’s win in the All-Ireland SFC final say, “Tyrone’s win built on a foundation devoid of ego,” and the manager said “It’s hard to stop a bus with everybody going in the one direction.”  Here again are the same key principles of connectivity, shared purpose and teamwork to bring success.

Asabiyah is an ancient Islamic concept of intangible yet strong force of cohesion that is referenced in the programme. It is a sense of loyalty that brings communities and teams together into a whole. As AEO turns to focus on the new season of the Zwift Racing League I know that this strong community will work hard for and with one another to deliver the best results possible #wearestrongertogether #aeoasabiyah

You can listen to the programme on BBC Sounds Sideways, episode 15. Best Feet Forward


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