Thursday, 9 August 2012

If I were a younger man (1)

A few days ago I found myself in London for a business meeting. At the height of Olympic fever the entire city was pulsating with the excitement of the games and the incredible achievements of the boys and girls who have delivered success for Team GB. The West End, in particular Trafalgar Square and the surrounding streets, was absolutely crammed with people heading to and from Horse Guards Parade for the beach volleyball (lucky b*ggers….).

I took the opportunity to pop into a relatively ‘un-busy’ cafĂ© Nero for a small cappuccino and to muse over the events of the previous days that so captivated our Nation: I fantasised, if I had taken a different path, what ‘glory’ could have been in store for me? I was an average sportsman in my younger years but sprinting (100m and 200m) was where (relative to me peers at least) I excelled, being school champion in 3 consecutive years and representing the school at district level. My speed also benefitted (or at least helped disguise shortcomings!) in other sports – I was a winger in the rugby team (speed), a full back (‘nippy wing-back’) in the football team and so on….. Unfortunately, when I was at school – and particularly at MY school (I am a product of the dysfunctional comprehensive system this country was guilty of in the late 70’s and early 80’s) - there was little or no chance to excel or progress a sporting career; no one was prepared to ‘spot’ you and develop you… indeed, no-one on the school staff seemed to care much about anything beyond getting each year group through it’s CSE exams and out of the school gates and into the world of unemployment.

This frustration at not being given attention/encouragement to develop my physical or sporting abilities at any level has stayed with me into adult life and is, I believe, a key factor in my willingness to take up various sports and activities over the years – I was a keen squash player for many years, a horseman (polo player), runner, footballer and rugby player. Even in the turbulent depths of middle age I remain an avid gym-goer and have just taken up scuba diving. I mention all of this – not to brag or boast – but to point out the lengths I have gone to to test myself physically … to try these sports to ‘see if I am any good’ at them and thus boost my self esteem (see previous post ‘Self Image and Confidence’ for further self-esteem musings!)… or perhaps simply to prove that as I get older I– physically at least – still ‘have it’.

Anyway – the upshot of all this is that I wondered how – if I were younger and a product of the education system in more recent years (a marked improvement on my time, based on observations made whilst my own children were progressing through their collective education) – my life would have perhaps taken a different turn? I am not jealous of our superb athletes in particular or younger people and their opportunities generally… just curious and wondering ‘what if’?

Am I alone in such wonderings? Your feedback and comments are, as ever, most welcome.

….and finally I would, from the bottom of my heart, like to congratulate ALL the Olympic participants (and the army of support people who have made it possible) for a fantastic games and for making me feel – once again – proud to be British!

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