Tuesday’s Training Tip (Daily Diesel Video) – Compete with yourself and come closer to others – why everyone can enjoy sport!
Through becoming obsessed with ‘making it’ I made myself hate the sport I loved. I wanted to show how good I was and forgot about why sport is magical. There’s an important morale to this so please keep reading. It will prove to you that anybody can enjoy exercise even if you think it’s impossible and you’re happy just being a couch potato..
I had the pleasure of many happy hours playing football with my little brother in the back garden of both 15 Springfield Road and 241 Templeogue Road.
One particular game of skills and slides comes to mind in Springfield Road during the pouring rain. One of us took on the persona of Patrick Vieira and the other Roy Keane. Time during these moments felt far shorter than it actually was.
A lot of the time my brother and I played against each other in the garden. Funnily enough some of the most enjoyable moments were when we joined forces and played with each other trying to combine well before finishing off with a neat goal (hopefully 😄)
My Dad would often join us sometimes kicking the ball between us and letting us battle it out. We owe him a lot for harvesting our interest in sport and our competitive natures.
Recently a team mate of mine here in Belgium Olof Gill and I were discussing mindfulness i.e. the practice of resting awareness in the present moment. He said he felt most mindful when out playing Gaelic Football as it took his mind away from everything else during those moments. This is the beauty of sport!
Sport is all the more important for younger people now in the developed world who have greater access to screens than ever before. This access to screens can cause a kind of self inflicted attention deficit – sport can help avoid this.
Another memory of Gaelic Football coming back to me was feeling down after losing a regular league game at around the age of 12/13. In hindsight not a big deal. I was upset after the game and my pal David McSharry came over and asked did I want to hang out with him and his brother Colm that evening. I immediately felt better. I don’t know if this just a friendship thing or a camaraderie built through sport thing or both but it’s a memory that has stuck with me.
Playing football in the school yard (Colm McSharry, Colin Madden and I) took massive pride in our team’s unbeaten streak. The picking of teams system amongst peers was always a bit harsh on those picked last but I didn’t pay it much attention at the time. Or maybe it just helped get you ready for life ahead – you can’t always be the best and shouldn’t expect to be…
Also, I had an affiliation to Down football as this is where my parents are from and where I was born. I remember spending plenty of time with my cool older cousin Iain up there, I always looked up to him – he was really good to us (my brother and I). He would bring Mark and I to his friend’s house – the Gilfedders, McEvoys or O’Hares where epic matches or games of World Cup would take place. Fun times!!!
Mickey Linden the Down forward was always a big favourite of mine. From what I could see he was a very clean player who looked like he just loved the game and relished taking on any defender who he came up against. I always loved the thought of going on the pitch fearless of whoever you came up against and I got this impression from him. At times I had this fearless feeling and that was always a great feeling 😄
Why else is sport important to me? It taught me that the underdog can win. That it is not necessarily all about skill. It taught me that deep pride in your team mates and what you represent can often times overcome a gulf in class skill wise. I loved games where we came from far behind to cause an upset when the game looked beyond doubt to be lost. In ways a game like this is like a metaphor of your life when it feels like the chips are down. How do you get out of the rut? It’s not through committing to massive changes – it’s through deciding to go for a run even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing in your down state. Just like when you’re ten points down with 10 minutes to go the comeback can start by not going crazy trying to get a goal (3 points) but calmly taking the safer one point option showing faith in your team’s ability to turn this around. And my oh my what a feeling to win a match that nobody gave you a chance to win! What match are you trying to win when it comes to your life’s goals? Sport should be used as fuel to show us that sometimes the unimaginable is possible but you have to really believe that it is.
A final reflection on why I love sport – not just football but running, boxing etc. is the high that you feel in the aftermath is a wonderful feeling of having achieved something with your day and the relaxation and satisfaction that can come from that. You don’t need to be Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi to tap into the exercise high. It is not down to ability, it is subjective. If you can focus on competing with your former self to get better and not those around you the challenge of improving at sport and fitness can lead to an unreal feeling 😄
I have recently started boxing with a top trainer Simon Bell and am loving the challenge of a new sport. I now realise more and more that it is not solely through winning medals, proving yourself to others and being player of the match that happiness from sport comes from. It comes from challenging yourself, sharing experiences with others and yes winning (against your own self doubts & performance metrics as well as other teams).