LIFE LESSONS IN SPORTS

When I experienced my first injury I was 12 years old playing netball, I was in the goal keeping position. In that match I had sustained an injury, other events that occurred that day, made being involved in sports worth-while.

On that day I was playing in the “B” team in my age group (good enough to be a reserve for the “A” team but great enough to be a starter for the “B” team). My coach had placed me as a reserve for the “A” team, so the coach decided to let me play in the second half. Being a defender in this sport is regarded as a very important position, so I walked onto the grass field thinking to myself “I need to kick ass and show them what I’m made of”. I walked onto the field with a thought in mind that I need to prove myself to the coach and other players that I am good enough to play in the “A” team.

Without me getting into the details of the match, I managed to help the team make a conversion and we ended up winning the game. In the mist of me playing like it was the end of world, I hurt my ankle. I ignored the injury and kept playing till the match was over, as we were walking back to our bus my coach noticed that I was limping. She approached me and asked why I was limping, I told her I had a bad landing when I jumped for the ball. She told me to get it checked out, she proceeded to tell me how fantastic I played and how the game changed when I came on. She told me that I looked like a “star fish in the air” when I jumped to intercept the ball. She was so proud of how I played and told me that I should continue playing for the “A” team. When we got onto the bus, my team mates starting to praise me and gave me pats on my back for playing well.

When I got home, I told my parents about the injury but they did not seem to care. I did not realise that that one injury I had sustained in that match was the beginning of many. I later in my sports career experienced a lot more injuries and discovered that my first ever injury was a torn ankle ligament. Not a year passed without a sprained foot, ACL injury, excessive use of a muscle injury and joint complications. After high school, I had pretty much given up on perusing sports professionally and I played it for social purposes.

In my second year of university, I came across a service called In4Sport. This service is actually a medical insurance service that specialises in sports injuries and sports related accidents. In4Sport provides amazing benefits such as access to medical emergency vehicle, cover for broken or fractured bones and an SOS number you can call whenever you have an emergency. I can only imagine if my parents had known about In4Sport back then, my sports career probably would exist to this day. In4Sport is one service I would definitely use for my children and I often suggest it to people that manage a sports team.

In my short career in sports, I learned quite a few things, one of them is that, in order to excel in something you need to be passionate about it. You need to allow yourself the space to grow and growth does not come without work and patience. There will be challenges along the way, such as injuries, which are expected in sports but these challenges should not discourage you from your ultimate goal. Till this day, I am patient and I know for me to get anywhere I need to put time and effort in what I want to achieve.

While you are trying to achieve your goal you need to surround yourself with people that will encourage you to do better, people who will acknowledge your best work and give you a push when you need it. Some things cannot be taught by parents but you can learn from experience, humility is one that you can learn from sports. Playing in a team teaches you that, you cannot be selfish because the people you play with and choose to ignore in a game, are the same people that will take you out of a tight corner.

As a young athlete that is seeking to be a professional in sports one day, accept challenges. Accept that in sports you will get injuries and for you to continue excelling in what you do, you need to take care of yourself. Accept that you will be placed as a reserve or be benched once in a while and you should not be upset about it, accept the break from the field. At the end of the day, when you are in a team, it’s not always about you, always look at the bigger picture.

Encourage your children to play sports and support them when they are passionate about it. Be the positive light when they have a bad day, take care of them when they have injuries (get cover from In4Sport if you have to). Reassure them that things will get better in time and they must keep keeping on. You do this little bit for your child and they might just grow up to be great athletes and wonderful people.

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