Inspiration v Age

What did you dream for your life when you were younger? Was it for fame and fortune? Perhaps just money? For me, it was to be a Paramedic. At least that was until I realised I hated people being sick, so I then decided I wanted to be a Fire Fighter. This still holds some weight with me. I would love to be able to say that I help people. To be able to say that I am making a difference.

Money and fame seems to be the driving factor for most people. I wonder whether this is born out of a need to be noticed, a sense of worthlessness in their life, or whether these people honestly believe that the only way they can make something of themselves is to be on X Factor, or some other ‘talent’ show.

London 2012 was a chance for everyone to experience a different sort of ‘talent’ show. The likes of Jessica Ennis, Charlotte Dujardin, Pete Reed, Jade Jones and countless others put themselves out there to challenge to be the best in their respective sports. The aim of the games was to ‘inspire a generation’, but I wonder how many young people will step up to this challenge. And is it only the ‘young’ who can dream to compete? Nick Skelton took Gold at the age of 54.

I have seen a number of comments on Twitter, particularly from younger people, who would love to represent their country in a sport. Some have no idea which sport to take up, but all the same, the interest is there. I think in that way, the message has been broadcast, heard and understood. I only hope that those who have the passion to compete, are given the support by their families, friends and have the money to undertake the training. To everyone who makes the choice to take up this challenge, I wish you all the luck in the world and I hope that one day we are all watching and cheering you on to Gold.

But, I have also seen others who claim that it’s too late for them to try. These are people who are currently sportsmen/women, some in their 30’s, who feel they would be unable to compete at an international standard due to their age. At what point are you too old? I remember having a conversation with a fellow crew member at a rowing club who said she would love to compete at the Olympics, but because she’s in her early 30’s, she was laughed at.

So is that it? At the age of (nearly 30) am I now too old to ever reach an international standard? I agree that there are times you may be out done by a younger competitor, but does that mean that we no longer even try? I refuse to regret decisions I have made in my life, but sitting here, I wonder if I should have continued with my Karate training (and taken my black belt exam) rather than a change of direction and treading the boards at the local theatre. You certainly get more support, it seems, when you are younger.

I start my Karate training again this week but people approach you differently when you’re heading toward (or stumbling past) 30. As the average population age increases, why should people in their late 20’s and 30’s be made to feel like they are heading over the hill?

Personally, I think I’m still (slowly) climbing the hill and have no desire to hit the top or head over it, until I’m heading toward 50!

Kicking things off with a win

Starting the Football season off with 3 points is what every football supporter dreams of. But to get that win when your current manager, who used to play for you, has never won a season opener in all of his years spent at the club, means so much more.

My feelings going into Cheltenham’s opening League Two game against Dagenham and Redbridge, we’re more positive than perhaps they should have been. Seeing the talent that Yates has brought in over the summer and with the core squad still in place from last season, I was convinced that it would be a good display.

The first half is a bit hazy for me due to being on some slightly stronger than usual painkillers for a sinus problem, but the goal from Harrad just before the break was more than welcome. A chance to celebrate and with the impressive work of Deering and good work by Jombati, my positivity in the run up to the match was starting to feel a little more realistic.

I must admit to having concerns over Zebroski and Hooman, but Zebroski picked up in the second half and I’m sure they’ll both settle over the next couple of games. The second goal, on 49, by McGlashan was brilliant and he definitely put in a lot of hard work over the 90 minutes. Official match report here.

Dagenham threw everything they could at us in the second half and came close to getting a goal but our defence stayed strong enough to deny them and start us off on the right foot.

I was pleased with the turnout for the match, but appreciate that some supporters will feel disappointed with the numbers (att: 2655 with 164 away fans). Yes, we deserve more and yes it’s the opening game of the season but remember that we’re into holiday time and just past the Olympics. Many people are either not around or cannot afford to make it to a game yet, but the lads deserve more support and we do need to find our voices. They’ve proved to us (time and time again) that they’re worth it, so let’s hope that more make the effort to join us.

Finally, a point of note to any women out there who love football and want to go but aren’t sure they can go to a match alone… do it. You’ll soon find you have people chatting to you (yes, to you, not chatting you up…. Although you never know…) and you’ll make friends who’ll be around, week in week out. Yes, it can be strange for the first game but I’ve never felt out of place going to games alone, especially at Cheltenham, as everyone is so friendly. Highly recommend it.

Finally arrived

The first day of the football season was welcomed in with glorious sunshine and warmth. With Cheltenham taking on MK Dons at home in the Capital One Cup and Forest Green Rovers opening their season at home to Cambridge United, I couldn’t help but visit the New Lawn to see my old local club visit Rovers and hopefully see FGR start the new season in style.

Forest Green finished in 10th place last season and the fans belief that they could face promotion this season was heightened.

With the new signings over the break strengthening the squad up front, it seems that the injuries to the defence were more noticeable. Missing Hodgkiss and new signing Green are both big blows to the team.

By half time yesterday, Rovers were 1-0 down to United. Elliot had put the U’s ahead with conviction and he was definitely one of the strongest players of the day. I was surprised at just how much space we afforded them. There was a lack of imagination and width in a Rovers side that I have high hopes for.

I have never based my thoughts about a squad or team on one game and certainly not on the first game of the season, but work is needed.

The change in the team when Styche came on around 80 minutes was obvious and even Norwood seemed to settle and produced some good runs and touches. Forbes had a brilliant game and there were some great touches and balls in from Rowe but it was Collins, our aerial threat, who was named Man of the Match.

On 88 minutes, Norwood was brought down on the edge of the area by Roberts to win a penalty which was swiftly converted by Klukowski. Unfortunately, Yan injured himself in the process and was left on the pitch to make up numbers for the last few minutes as we were out of subs.

Looking ahead I think we have great promise, but when faced with a tight outfit such as Cambridge, the team need to learn to utilise the wings and make the space work for us.

Off the pitch I must say that there are a few points that need improving on. I’m a perfectionist I know, but the scoreboard referring to the home side as Forets Green in the first half was a little disappointing as was our opponents being called Cambridge Uniyed in the programme!

Ignoring that, I can’t wait to get back there to cheer on a squad with so much potential. Hockaday has his work cut out (as most managers do!) but I think these players have the determination and passion to make it.