We get hits in life – but who notices?

Friday 1st April marked a great day in the rugby calendar for St. Marys. A hard fought victory against Dublin University meant that we are Division 1B champions. The celebrations that night and for the rest of the weekend were fantastic. Smiles on all the faces in the club. Singing songs, telling stories of the games gone by and the highs of the season it was the perfect ending. So with one match to go we can enjoy it without any pressure.

Now I don’t say the word ‘we‘ lightly, because pretty much this whole season I’ve been out on the sidelines with yet another injury. While I took part in friendlies and cup games in August as well as an Ulster Bank League game back in September which we won, my first game back in a St. Marys jersey was for the J1’s in March. For 7 months I couldn’t even be considered. I haven’t had any other involvement with the first team since then.

For someone who’s a competitive person it is so frustrating to be sidelined again due to injury.

For over 24 years I’ve been playing rugby and since the age of 16 I’ve been plagued with injuries, only 7 operations due to rugby.

Jeez I’m showing my age now.

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Aside from the operations, I’ve torn muscles, rolled ankles, cracked ribs and throughout all those injuries I’ve always said that this is part and parcel of the game. But this is what we sign up for right???

There are so many players who’ve been in the same boat as me. While I’m only playing amateur rugby every year me and my team mates make a commitment to train 3-4 times a week and hope we have put ourselves in a place to be considered for selection week in week out. Once you agree that is what you’re going to do, then it’s down to business and everything else must work around this. It’s not a sacrifice its a pleasure and a choice. We choose to play a sport that is taxing on the body, it’s tough on the mind, it affects relationships either helps build them or it’s the reason for breaking them.

Ultimately it is a choice. So with this choice you work towards the rewards of good times and joy with the reality of potentially attaining a few injuries / setbacks along the way. In sport it is a true shame that success and victory never last as long as the time invested to get there and unfortunately losses and injuries for some, can haunt people afterwards either mentally or physically. THIS ADPRIVACY SETTINGS THIS ADPRIVACY SETTINGS

With so many injuries, I could have packed it in years ago. The running joke when I got back to play was, how long until the next injury.  To be fair, I’ve no idea what long term affects all these injuries will have on my body. At 32 I can see its going to be long road.

You see, that’s what makes sport so compelling isn’t the fear or worry or injury, its the challenge and drive to reach a goal you set with yourself and your team mates. I can only speak from there perspective of playing team sports.

However regardless of the potential long term damage you do to yourself it doesn’t cross your mind when you are working and training with your friends and team mates. This is why there’s always a mutual respect and understanding between fellow players around the world.

With injuries there’s absolutely a huge physical challenge to get your body back to the same place it was before the injury, if not better.

For me the hardest part is the mental challenge. A friend of mine and a former team mate recently text me while I was on the way back from my most recent injury and he said,

“Fair play on the rugby front by the way too… it’s a long road back but i’ve a lot of respect for you travelling that road one more time”

I must say that text epitomises why I’ve continued to play rugby throughout the years. You don’t think anyone notices what you’re trying to achieve (for most part no one does) and then out of the blue you get a bit of support that spurs you on.

But this isn’t just in rugby folks. This is throughout life too. So many people will never play sports, but they have goals and dreams that they want to achieve. They too will choose to put in the hours, required, build relationships and break some along the way, all to reach their goal. Whether it’s another sport, an event you’re planning or focusing on being their for your family, an unexacting show of support, a kind word, a show of appreciation from others goes further than realised at the time.

It’s not just us normal folk, its all the great folk too. We’re only human, which means we all have ups and downs, make mistakes and try learn from them.

Some people are more driven than others in their own respect, but each person in their down time need that bit of support. I don’t care whether your president of the USA or going to your first singing lesson, a gentle word of support is sometimes required.

Something small and insignificant to someone else can be the exact thing needed by another.

It’s like when you’re a kid and something happened you so long ago but the message and sentiment stuck with you for years to come. I remember when I was about 8 or 9 I’d a problem in school like most kids do and my Mum who’s an uncanny way to this day of unravelling anything on my mind, she always asked the questions most people are afraid to ask.

At that age you don’t really want to talk to your parents because ‘it’s not cool’ but she said to me

“no matter how big the problem is you can always come home and tell us. Talking about it is better than keeping it to yourself, a problem shared is a problem halved.”

I’ve never forgotten that and now I’m the person who asks the tough questions when my pals are going through tough times.

My rambling this time around is not for those who are down or struggling, but more for those who aren’t down or struggling. Those who are getting on great in life, work, sport whatever.

Open your eyes to your teammate who might be struggling with a task, your friend who’s maybe lost a bit of contact with you for no reason, give them a bit of support that you may or may not have gotten when you were in that position.

You never know what that small gesture will do for them in years from now.

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