During my first initial couple of weeks at Cardiff Met University, Wales in 2011, I was told about a very well-known company in the US, offering professional soccer coaching opportunities. I immediately wanted to know more, and instantly off went to research the company, what they offered, the application process and attempt to connect with the company’s coaches. Now, those reading this might consciously think, “the perfect story or perfect ending”, this wasn’t the case. Some may not have known, but for a lengthy 18months period of time I continually suffered from three (3) slipped disks in my lower back, the pain was unbearable at times, but was managed and kept under control with an LOT of painkillers and rehabilitation. Doctors and specialists advised I rest, and allow my back to recover, nonetheless I maintained to work three (3) different coaching positions and continue my university studies. Many would think why would I apply in the first place, given the current circumstances, I guess 1) I was driven and motivated to accomplish my goal of coaching in the US 2) I didn’t really acknowledge and appreciate the severity of my injury as the majority of the pain managed and kept under control.
Fast forward a little, I applied and was selected by the company and initially placed in Kansas, USA. However before departing for the US, every coach selected by the company must attend a training weekend at a UK location. The nightmare began, on the morning when I was travelling to attend the company’s training weekend. The morning involved arriving late to the train station, rushing to find which platform my train was at only to have my tickets rejected due to an incorrect date. This meant I had to pay again for tickets = very expensive. Fast forward, to arriving at the train station of the location where the training was taking place, thinking all my stresses and worries were over and I could look forward to enjoying the weekend and meeting new people. Little did I know until I arrived at the location that I lost my hand luggage on the train… The hand luggage included all my paper documentation required for the company, plus and more importantly to me (at the time), were my pain killers…. The company was absolutely fantastic with me, very comforting and accommodating. They insisted that I continue with the training weekend, however in my mind, I knew it was only a matter of time before the pain reoccurred and become unbearable. Continue I did, I had to uncomfortably sit through various speeches from several individuals from the company, until we were instructed to head over to a specific field location to coach and meet our peers.
Before I’m about to coach I’ve never doubted myself due to the simple fact, I prepare and I’m confident. As I’m walking down towards the field, doubts begin to enter my mind, I didn’t feel confident at all. My mind was totally focused on anticipating the back pain reoccurring. Arriving at the field, and having introduced myself, I was told that I was 3rd in line to coach, I kindly asked not to participate, which in retrospect was probably a bad idea, the observations allowed me to gaze the level of effort, enthusiasm and confidence from the other respective coaches. Something I was lacking at the moment in time. As these sessions continued, the weather conditions were bitterly cold and windy, the coldness was most certainly impacting my back. My time eventually came, I felt stiff in my movement and I didn’t sound confident, I just wanted the session end. I felt like I was letting myself down. I asked for my session to end and I walked away. I knew it wasn’t good enough not from my level of expectations. I walked up to see one of the administrators and kindly requested to speak to a technical director of the company. I remember being on the verge of tears waiting to meet with the company’s technical director, I sat down and before the technical director spoke, I said “I can’t do this…” then continued telling my story. The technical director was great and very understanding we agreed due to my current physical condition it wasn’t the best to idea endure a summer in the blistering heat and all the physical requirements. I vividly remember walking out of the building and crying uncontrollably, at the same time, in the back of my mind I knew it was right thing. I just wanted to get back to Cardiff. I got on the train returning to Cardiff, I placed my mobile phone off and naturally thought the dream of coaching in the US was over. Once I arrived in Cardiff, and sat in a taxi, taking me home, I told my story to the taxi driver, and is response will always stay will me, it was so simple but so true, he responded with “everything happens for a reason”. This lifted my spirits slowly, it gave me reassurance that I could recover physically and simply just try again. And try again I did.
With a new mindset and a greater level of determination, I went through intense physical rehabilitation, even a back strengthening class full of +65 years olds and continued to develop as a coach. After a further 8months, the specialist was happy that I stopped consuming painkillers, following a lengthy 24months of suffering I was finally on the right recovering track. During my final stages of my rehabilitation, I was told about another US company that offered similar coaching opportunities and applied. The rest was history.
I firmly believe in Steve Jobs’ reference to “The dots connecting, when you look back, as I sit here and reflectively write this; the dots connect.
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