I have recently joined a ladies football team. Well we don’t actually compete in a league we just get together on Saturdays mornings for training sessions. These training sessions involve fitness sections, football drills and end with an 11-a-side game against each other. It’s really good fun, everyone gets on and it’s not competitive just a good way to work out whilst having fun and get to know a few people. Most Saturdays we head to the local pub afterwards to have a drink and get to know each other a little more. I have only been to two sessions so far and I have really enjoyed it, more so the second time as I knew what to expect and got more involved I feel. I have still a long tway to go should I want to compete in a proper game (which they do occasionally) but for now I happy with just doing it for fun and to help my fitness.
Since returning from Dubai I have struggled to maintain a fitness routine apart from last year somewhat as I was part of a gym with my husband and we had the motivation of our upcoming wedding. This year or since March 2014 has been a little harder. We joined another gym which was great, so close to our home and cheap enough that it wasn’t such a drag every month on the bank account. But problem was as soon as the colder months hit and the dark nights it was a struggle to get to. You see it sits behind a dark road and lots of trees and when you don’t have access to a car the walk or run to get there can be a bit off-putting. So we decided to cancel our membership in January this year. I have always enjoyed long runs around our area of Wanstead and South Woodford (outskirts of London) but it can get a bit tedious and repetitive after a while not to mention if you work late its the last thing you want to be doing at 8-9 pm on a cold night!
My husband has always been into football ever since we met 13 years ago it has been the other part of our relationship and to be honest deep down I wouldn’t have it any other way. I see how much enjoyment he gets out of it, from playing every weekend, to watching it on TV, to talking with his friends/me/his family about it – It is and will always be a part of our lives and that’s okay because even before we met my Dad had cemented it into my life also. He used to coach our local boys team, Sprotbrough Crusaders. My brother also played for them and I met some of my close friends by being dragged down on a cold sunday morning to games whilst my mother had to work shifts at our local hospital. I used to hate having to stand there on the side lines next to the first aid box and that “magic” sponge and bucket! But yes there were other daughters like me who were in the same position and had to come down and watch their brother/cousin, and this softened the blow and I guess I can say this is where it started for me.
Soon I was getting involved in the newly established Richmond hill school girls team! It was quite a thing. There was about 8-10 of us in the beginning and we had caught on to a bit of a trend. We all followed football and tried to get involved in the boys games on the field at play time. I don’t know how it started maybe it was that era in the late 90’s of Manchester united, David Beckham and the other superstars coming into the lime light or just the fact we felt we could be as good as the boys, our brothers etc. I mean don’t get me wrong I was a very girly girl in the midst of all this I was still going to ballet and dance classes every Thursday and Saturday. It wasn’t about being “one of the boys” it was about getting involved in something and being part of a team and ultimately having fun with it. So our small girls team grew and other girls in our year started to hear about it and wanted to be involved and before you know it we were going over to another school in the area to play a friendly game, the team or school was ELLERS! I remember showing up there, my Dad had driven me and a couple of my close friends to the school. He was so proud and I was so proud because he was a manager of the Crusaders! I mean people knew my Dad in our village because of this. He probably should have been our manager but we were lumped with our school teacher Mr Arthur for whatever reason. I can’t actually remember him talking to us as a team, giving us a team talk or any inspiring words to be honest but hey he was our manager figure and quite frankly we all knew what we had to do on that field. As soon as we got out of the car at the ground my Dad got straight to it and got us all in a circle to do a warm up game of head catch. This got us all going and ready to face our first proper game! We got battered by Ellers to be fair. I remember one opportunity for myself. I was clear, running towards the goal, shot in sight, a defender was on me but too far to bother me. I could hear their team cheering for their goalie as I set my sight on the net. I shot on target but she made the save. I was slightly disappointed but I had a taste and It was a thrill for a moment. We went away from that game tired but we all enjoyed it. We played a couple more games, tournaments and matches. Ellers were always our rivals and I can quite distinctly remember them being probably a foot taller than us at the time. (They probably weren’t but things seem so much more exaggerated as a kid)
I went to a few “football days” over the coming years cause my Dad knew people at our local club Doncaster Rovers and got involved in most things my brother did with football. This kept us occupied most summers and I was even in the local paper for it! But as high school years approached I and my friends lost interest in playing the game and other things took over appearance, fashion, boys. I got involved in Netball in my later years of school and really enjoyed the team element of this and thought about carrying it on for a while but my eventual career and social life took over again.
For the years through college sport and exercise were not a part of my life which is probably something I regret but if I went back now I probably wouldn’t be able to convince my 17-21 year old self this. I am now an established Digital Art Director working in London for the past 8 years as well as a break year in Dubai with my then boyfriend and now Husband, Dave. I began a heavy (for me) fitness regime whilst in Dubai as It seemed like the perfect time to transform myself. Lucky for me Dave was a qualified personal trainer! I think he was quite shocked but happy and excited when I turned to him in our first few weeks and said, “I want to change my body, please help me”. He loves a challenge and Is very passionate about fitness and wellbeing. He is so knowledgable and driven at his job (health club manager) and I know he is guiding me in the best way possible. In little over 4 weeks I could see the change in myself and body. I felt alive and healthy it was quite a feeling and something I hadn’t experienced for some time if ever. I mean I have never been a gym person in the past but the feeling it gives you is unreal – it’s totally worth it! The best thing about doing all of this is that I could do it with Dave. It became our weekly activity together, we really looked forward to those Friday morning gym sessions then going to a nice restaurant in a beach bar area after knowing we had really worked so we could treat ourselves once in a while. This continued whilst we were in Dubai for a year and I am so glad I woke up from being lazy and just thinking I could go through life and my body would take care of itself. All those times I used to think well I am a slim person surely that’s enough and I can eat whatever I want. Well it isn’t the truth. Listen early 20 year olds – It’s gonna get harder for you to stay in shape, do yourself a favor and start now 🙂 you will feel a whole load better for it, look after your body. In June 2013 we returned to the UK for a number of reasons but one of the main at the time was we were getting married and wanted to be closer to family so that they could enjoy the day with us. As I mentioned previous myself and Dave tried hard to maintain our fitness lifestyle and did as well as we could in the run up to the wedding.
It seemed that I had reached a point as I did when we moved to Dubai that I wanted to change things up a little. Yes I still loved going to the gym but it was often on my days off in the week I could only make it or on a saturday whilst Dave was playing football. I craved some sort of group activity and something more fun and energising than the same routine in the gym. I think Dave first suggested why don’t you look into ladies Football teams whilst we were in the local one Saturday evening. I googled a few times, “ladies football”, “ladies non competitive football” but often I was finding mixed teams and teams at the other side of London. After more searching we came across the Ladies East end academy. This is a group set up by a guy called Naz Ahmed he is joined by another also FA qualified coach Addison. It is the only ladies social football club in east London. It’s for all Ladies from age 16 up from various backgrounds and abilities. The aim for anyone joining is to socialise, learn and keep fit. There is no commitment required and they even try to get us involved in friendly games should we wish.
This brief delve into my past and journey to now is not to say everybody needs to work out and exercise or me trying to push fitness or being healthy down your throat it is more for me to outline my full circle and to say, whatever you choose to do, to look after yourself and make your mind and soul happy make it something that’s fun and not a chore, after all you only live once and you only have one body to live it in, look after it! (quote stolen from my husband and motivator Dave Taylor).