Was I wasting my time or building who I would become today?
Amateur rugby league
When I was younger, I was involved with amateur sports management in my spare time. I started off as the media manager for a local rugby league team in the Midlands. I would create match day programmes for them, conduct interviews, write and submit press releases, and do what I could to boost their club’s profile in the local community. I managed to get some high profile interviews with figures from the national media and sporting world. These went down well with the readers and I was congratulated by other clubs in the area for my enthusiasm to deliver a good product.
I then become the club’s manager. I become responsible for much more of the operations of the club for pretty much everything that was ‘off the field’. The coach and the captain would look after that side, and we would regularly discuss the direction of the club and which way we wanted to steer it.
The club progressed well in this time. There was an air of ‘they know what they are doing’ about them which quite frankly had been missing in the past. Whilst I was a non-playing member of the club, I still conducted a great deal of respect from players and supporters for the work I was putting in that led to the growth and development of the club.
Starting up a new club
For a period after leaving the club, I was of the view that a new club needed to be created in the area with a focus on getting new players introduced to the sport. I worked with a local coach and a few like-minded individuals and we started out as a new club. We started holding open training sessions in the city’s main park which we advertised in the local newspapers and on local radio.
We attracted a lot of new players and a new club was coming together. Even I started playing too, making my full contact rugby league debut at the age of 30! I got my coaching qualifications too so that I can help out on the training ground as well as off the pitch. I felt the atmosphere at the club was one that attracted players who wanted to learn and develop. We weren’t necessarily a good standard on the pitch yet, but we improved and developed month on month! Our reputation was growing all the time.
Lived and breathed this club
I invested a lot of my time in the development of that club. Some would say, and probably quite accurately, that I lived and breathed this club outside of my work. We were all committed to doing what we can to get these new players gelling as a side, bonding as a team, and growing into the minds of the local community.
I designed our playing kit. In our first year raised £1500 worth of commercial sponsorship through local and national companies. I arranged reciprocal link-up deals with bars and clubs where the players would celebrate post-match and on nights out together. I negotiated the provision of the first council provided rugby league pitch in the whole Midlands area. Together with my other committee members, we created an amazing set-up for all that were involved. I ended up getting invited to a Mayoral Reception for my contribution to sport in the city. Our club was recognised by the sport’s governing body for our pioneering approach to player recruitment and increasing participation in the sport.
Over the period of these years while I was involved with amateur full-contact rugby league, I put in pretty much all my spare time into building something special, something memorable, and something that will live in people’s thoughts for hopefully years to come. I still keep in touch with a number of the players even now, nearly ten years on after I left the West Midlands.
What did I learn from it all?
We can all look back on our memories and say that we had a great time when we look back on different times in our lives. We can reminisce about the good laughs and happy days and evenings that were had. I wonder whether some of those players are still playing now or whether they use some of the moves we coached back then. I wonder whether if they hadn’t have come to our club, whether they would have just found a different club instead. I could wonder what I would have done if I hadn’t chosen to take that particular path in life.
Was I wasting my time? Or was I making investments in myself for who I have become today?
I suppose the answer to that would be different depending on whose perspective you look at it from. I know that my leadership skills probably were honed more from those days. I developed an assertive side that hadn’t matured so much prior to then. I would say that I hadn’t felt the recognition from peers and others as much as before those days in a non-work environment. I was looked up to. I was seen as someone who would get things done. I made some wrong decisions. I made some poor judgement calls at times. But overall, people saw that what I was doing was my best and was generally on the right track. I learnt to trust others but not to trust everyone. I learnt a lot of things about myself and what I wanted to do in life. I knew that my ideas weren’t the greatest all the time, but collaboratively with those whose views I trusted, we progressed a long way by sharing the same goals.
I could have done so much more with my life during those years. I could have done many different things. My career may have gone a different route. My earning potential may have increased had I sought out different directions at work. I could have travelled more and seen more of the country. I could have read more and learnt more about other hobbies and interests.
Sometimes when I sit and wonder about my life, I realise that there have been many junctions where I have chosen to go left when life would have been different if I had turned right, or when I have moved sideways rather than pushing on forwards.
It is all well and good retrospectively identifying areas where you could have done something differently. You can’t change the past. You can’t alter where you are here and now. What you can do is learn from decisions you have made, and work out what benefits there have been realised by making that choice, and identify what you may do differently should you have that choice again in the future. Too many people look back and regret what has happened. A fair few people look back and celebrate what they have done in the past.
Both ways need a certain level of reflection too, and that requires a wisdom that evolves over time. What you do with that reflection is important for your future. It can’t change the past. It doesn’t change where you are in the present. But it does give you the opportunity to look at where you are going in the future.
“Remember your past, use the present to build your future.”
There are always likely to be nagging thoughts in our heads that we could have done things differently. There are arguments with some people that we wish we had never had. We even think that we shouldn’t have done certain things. That is life. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t move on from those. Time passing by can be water under the bridge. What we have to do is to reflect on what we learn through events, and what we can do better, or bearing in mind what we can improve for different scenarios in the future.
I don’t regret committing my life to amateur sport all those years. I may have missed out on a lot of things during that time, but I also gained a lot of life skills and lessons too. I think it is easy to say that actions or activities in the past have been a waste of time, but we should also see what benefit they have brought to us, and how they have sculpted us into who we are today. If life took a different turn back then, who knows where I would be now.
I know that learning from experiences can enhance a person if it is used wisely.