Story by Robin Popley
Well, as promised, here is my very – no, extremely – special Editor’s Insight for September. This week has been a monumental week in my life and many of my team. On Thursday 6th September 2012, we doffed our caps to the Chancellor at the University of Lincoln (UK), walking over the threashold no longer as Undergraduates or Graduands, but Graduates and Alumni of the University of Lincoln. The spirital home of 11.
What preceeded this event for myself, though, was the real eye opener and made me feel both blessed and proud. I was off to London for the Paralympics. Exciting stuff.
Along with my parents, I was to take my place in the stands at the ExCel centre, just outside of Greenwich. The two events I was pencilled into see were the Boccia (to which I will come to in a second) and Wheelchair fencing. Luckily, though, I was able to get into see all 5 events that were being showcased over the two days I was based there: headlined by the Sitting Volleyball. Let me hear you say, way-o, way-o…
Now, at this point of the article, I haven’t yet mentioned football once. You may wonder why this is. Well, the point of this month’s Editor’s Insight, is to pay homage to all the sportspeople (or as Tony Benn quite nicely called we Lincoln Graduates, ‘Olympians’, when he was in town to pick up his Honourary Doctorate for outstanding contribution to Politics earlier in the week), who just get up and get on with it. Something we all often say on phone ins or forums. I wish they’d try harder.
For me, it was the Boccia (pronounced Boccaaaa like Gotcha) that best demonstrated the true spirit of sport, not only Paralympian but in general. Most of its competitors suffer from Cerebral Palsy, with some having such extreme variations of the disease, they have to play through the aid of an apparateus shaped into a type of slide (not the playground variety either). It was really inspiring.
Most of you will be unaware that I, too, suffer with disability. Although mine is only mainly learning, I was greatly surprised to learn that I could also participate in the Paralympic games (if I were good enough) because of my extreme dyspraxic problems, not to mention my dyslexia. Then, aware of this, I was lucky enough to catch Keira Knightley discussing her problems with Dyslexia when in discussion with the reporter about her new film. Her drive to overcome our learning difficulties, was that ultimate goal of being able to do what you most want, to quote her directly; “There was always a carrot being dangled in front of me, to break through that wall!”
So, I come back to the feat of my team and I, with our honours degrees. There were times when things got pretty dire and I can admit that there were several times I contemplated quiting, but then I thought, if I do this now it will be worth it in the end. I will get my dreams and someday I will be a somebody. I DESERVE IT!
And that is what I think footballers – at times – need to evaluate. In general, each and every single one of us should look to the achievements of this year by our country, then sit back and remember what a wise old lecturer said to me; “It’s not the if…it is only the when!”
Hope you all enjoyed watching our (England’s) great opening win last night,