A beautiful game

A beautiful game

Hold on? I thought that is a football thing? Its also a rugby thing. Grab your sports bag, because it’s going to be a good one today.

Reflective piece

Hi there. How has your week been? How did you find my blog last week about weightlifting and about using correct form and technique? Is there anything you would like to know more about? Please ask if you have any other questions.

Before I continue I just want to talk a bit about my new blog site. For those who have been following me on the Fit For (Nearly) 40 blog I have amassed close to 40 published blogs and have gathered 61 followers. I am so happy that I have been able to build such a varied collection of articles and that I have been able to share it with all of you. For those who may know, I have started a new website which also acts as a blog. This is Fit For Any Age, a site which has been launched but is still going through a few tweaks. You can find it at: http://fitforanyage.co.uk

Until the end of September I will be posting and will be duplicating on Fit For (Nearly) 40 and Fit For Any age. From the beginning of October I will be looking to post on Fit For Any Age exclusively. I attempted to install a plug in on the Fit For (Nearly) 40 blog site to email users but am unable to. So if you are a follower and you would like to continue to share in the blogs, please subscribe to my new blog. I look forward to seeing you there 

Without further ado, let’s come back to the blog today. 

So…are you ready for the game? 

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I am of course talking about the current Rugby World Cup 2019. 

But before I talk about this, let me take it back to the start. 

When I was young, I remember playing rugby. I was at an all boy’s high school. This is when I discovered rugby. I remember being in my oversized jersey, wearing my boots which I wore into half way through the season. There would be days when I would come home covered in mud and scrapes and bruises. My mother would see my dirtied jersey and rugby clothes and I could tell that she was dreading cleaning them again, but at the same time was happy that I was active and running about.

At the time I also had a bit of a disadvantage. Despite being fit and healthy, I was – well I am still am – not the best sighted. At school I had industrial square glasses, good for a growing boy who is tripping into things as he gets used to his arms and legs growing at different speeds, but not good for when you play sport that involves running into people and getting dirty. I tried contact lenses but I never really got on with them. Always felt like there was something in my eye.

So you can imagine, a young man, running around a field, not wearing his glasses, half blind. How did I manage it? Well I had a technique: throw to the guys wearing the same colour jersey as you. The line outs were interesting as well. Getting lifted, I looked at the blur that looked like a ball. Sometimes I caught the ball. Sometimes I didn’t. Considering I was half blind, I played a few games for the B and even A team.

Despite being quite partially sighted, I had the support and backing of my teammates. My parents would come to the games and cheer me on from the sidelines. One of my proudest moments was scoring a try, being buried under a dozen muddy bodies, and rising victorious holding the ball with my mom cheering on the sidelines. 

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“[Soccer] is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans, and rugby is a hooligans’ game played by gentlemen.”

 Winston Churchill. 

Unfortunately, at around 14 I had to stop, as I injured my back in poor scrums. I was part of the front row, and getting pulled down time after time under a collapsing scrum. I turned to other sports, such as athletics and waterpolo,  but there would still be days when I would stand by the sidelines and watch a game of rugby, supporting, but wishing I was playing.

At around the similar time in my youth, South Africa entered a monumental time in its political history and its sporting history.

It was 1995. I was in South Africa. At the time it was the Rugby World Cup.

I don’t want to get into the politics of the country. If you want an idea about the politics there is a lot of information online. Due to the politics, sanctions had been imposed upon the country, and restrictions had been imposed upon the sporting community for competing on the world stage.

In 1994, Frederik Willem De Klerk stepped down and Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa, and served until 1999. During his reign, Mandela worked hard to improve the international image of South Africa, to help negotiate new trade deals and to tell the world, “We have changed. Please work with us”.

With sanctions lifted, one of the biggest opportunities upon return to the competitive world stage was the Rugby World Cup 1995. 

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It was the first World Cup in which South Africa was allowed to compete; the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB, now World Rugby) had only readmitted South Africa to international rugby in 1992, following negotiations to end apartheid. The World Cup would also be the last major event of rugby union’s amateur era; two months after the tournament, the IRFB opened the sport to professionalism.

In the final, held at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on 24 June, South Africa defeated New Zealand 15–12, with Joel Stransky scoring an electrifying last minute drop goal in extra time to win the match. Following South Africa’s victory, Nelson Mandela, wearing a Springboks Rugby shirt and cap, presented the Webb Ellis Cup to the South African captain François Pienaar.

I still remember that moment. I remember chewing off my finger nails, watching the game with my family, seeing the score as 12-12, watching the last seconds tick by, feeling my heart slamming in my rib cage, thinking, “We have come this far. Don’t let it end like this”.

When the ball went over the posts, the house erupted. All of the houses erupted. I remember running out into the street and screaming and cheering and strangers were cheering and hugging. It was like something out of a movie.

Incidentally, the world cup and Mandela later became a movie, ‘Invictus’ (2009), directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon as François Pienaar. If you ever get the chance, check it out. It is very good.

Rugby for me has a place in my heart not only for love of the sport, but for the love of how I saw it bring people together. 

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And now here we are. Its the Rugby World Cup 2019.

Yet again, countries from all over the world are coming together. Again, people from all walks of life are coming together to celebrate the beautiful sport. I call it a beautiful sport not just because of subjective experience, but also the fact that it brought people together in a beautiful way, breaking down social and political barriers.

Sport has many health benefits, including increasing physical fitness, strength and endurance, but it also increasing self-esteem, confidence and bringing people closer together.

Sport is good for the body but it is also good for the mind. Sport helps to: improve mood; increase concentration; reduce stress and depression; improve quality of sleep; help to maintain a healthy weight; and improves self-esteem.

Sports also helps with social integration and with creating respect for rules, so for any parents reading this, getting your children into sport at a young age is not only a good way to have them healthy, but to have them socially integrative and following instruction. Sport also teaches self-discipline and helps a person to set goals. Sport can transcend just a game and can become something more, something else.

And sport, like the next few weeks in the Rugby World Cup 2019 will have little minds to create big memories, will bring people together in celebration and support, will get people out and active. I was driving home from the gym earlier this week and saw a family on the pavement and a boy throwing a rugby ball to his dad. And it put a smile on my face. As my dad had thrown the ball to me when I was young, so one day may I throw the ball to my son. And so continue the cycle and legacy of the beautiful game.

In summary, sport has many benefits, not only physical, but psychological as well. It is a social yarn that binds people, and it can be beautiful memories made and shared.

I hope you have found the blog of some help. Remember: it’s a journey. It will take time. Have patience in the process. You will get there. Until then, stay happy, stay healthy, and have a lovely weekend wherever you are on the planet.

And remember: love yourself. 

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A bit about the author:

I am a guy who is (nearly) 40, who is sharing a journey of weight management and wellbeing.I am also a mental health professional with a wealth of years of experience in supporting individuals who have challenging mental illnesses and personality disorders.

Prior to my current professional role, I spent several years supporting members of the community as a fitness professional, assisting individuals with weight loss and health improvement programmes.

I completed a PGDip in Mental Health Nursing in 2013, and an MSc in Advanced Practice in 2016 in which I looked at improving nurses’ level of engagement with patients with challenging personality disorders.

In 2018 I successfully undertook a Clinical reasoning in Physical Assessments course with the view to start studying toward becoming an Advanced Nurse Practitioner in late 2019.

In 2015 I also undertook a Mentorship for practice (BSc Hons) course and have been supporting future nurses with their training and development. I have also recently supported a Healthcare Assistant Staff toward training in and successfully passing and achieving a Foundation Degree in Mental Health Nursing.

In my current role I am a person looking to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of the individual. As part of my role within the health services in supporting individuals with mental health care needs, I am also currently looking to develop myself as a Wellness Coach, to support the individual with weekly wellness blogs, with the view to support individuals on a 1:1 basis as well as holding motivational lectures and seminars.

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