One of the many things I am grateful for about growing up in Zimbabwe and being schooled here is that playing sport, every term was compulsory – regardless of your natural ability, skills, talent or effort index – everyone was expected to get out there and swim, play cricket, kick a rugby ball, run track and cross country. The lesson being taught is “just have a crack and get involved” – regardless of your abilities. The sporting arena, no matter what sport it is, is a microcosm of life in that it teaches us all about the highs and lows of winning, losing, effort, rewards and picking yourself up again no matter how many times you fall, drop a ball or miss a tackle
Sport has always been a part of my life
Playing competitive rugby and squash at a schoolboy, provincial and national level followed by 12 years of club rugby overseas, running off-road marathons, adventure races, expeditions and other pursuits – sport has provided an opportunity to travel to new places, meet people and experience different cultures. It has also constantly reminded me how much bigger things can be achieved through teamwork and a unified approach over an individual effort. One only has to look at the culture and ethos of the All Blacks – “no man is bigger than the game”. So whilst it is certainly not the be-all and end-all in a schooling environment, I think it’s a very important part and should be valued in our schooling systems as there are likely more life lessons on the sports field than there are in a text book…
My motto in life
A teammate in my high school rugby team used to emphasis the “If you fail to plan, you are plan to fail” mantra and it has stuck with me all these years. I think it is applicable to all endeavours in life – in the sporting area, classroom, job interviews, setting up one’s own business, going off on an overseas trip – there’s no short cut in the preparation and pre planning. I have found this to be true both during early years at school and my subsequent travels and studies overseas – the quality of an outcome would always be linked to the degree of effort and preparation that I put in beforehand. I found this out the hard way in my first marathon in New Zealand thinking that my youth would get me through without the specific and progressive training – I suffered that day!
Rally racing pushes your boundaries
Rally racing is a sport where navigation, concentration, skill and endurance are applied to a 10-12 hour adventure over 6 -14 days. The same uncertainties, unknown variables and various obstacles are dealt out to everyone regardless of your skillset, natural ability and talent – out there you all on the same course! No days are ever the same and ultimately its testing oneself against the elements and the unknown route laid out ahead that is appealing. The addictive component of that comes in the small battles won, often alone – climbing a huge dune, navigating a tricky road book section, fixing a mechanical issue etc.
I think it’s also a sport where mental stamina and fortitude is required; the long days, minimal sleep, harsh environments and extremes in temperature make for an arena where you test your own internal resolve constantly. The rally fraternity is made up of like minded people all in pursuit of the same challenge and adventure out of the routine of day to day life.
My message to kids out there today would be – “Show up, get stuck in and have a crack!” regardless of whether you good at hockey, netball or swimming – show up today, tomorrow, next week and continue showing up and something will start to give. You’ll get better at it, you’ll understand the sport better, you’ll make friends and you’ll start to enjoy it more and its a nice break from the homework and classroom stuff too!
So get out, get going and you will find that sport makes the game of life better!