FIRST off, congratulations to Omagh CBS and Dean Maguirc College for their wins in the MacRory Cup and Markey Cup respectively. The future of Tyrone football is in good hands when the school scene is being sewn up by the Omagh, Carrickmore, Dungannon, Cookstown, Donaghmore and Ballygawley teams.
I’ve always had a soft spot for school football. For many club players, it’s the highest level they’ll ever compete at. Rewind 18 years and I was getting ready for my own appearance in the Markey Cup final. We won that day and went on to claim All-Ireland victory which led to an infamous moment where I pulled up to school and just as I was about to fire my bag into the luggage hold on the bus something made me do one last mental checklist and I realised I forgot to pack my football boots. An u-18 All-Ireland schools final, without doubt, the biggest game I would ever be involved in and I forgot my boots.
Didn’t forget my dancing shoes mind.
Something I’ve noticed as I’ve got older, many since having children myself, is how invested parents of the players can get. They kick every ball, ride every challenge, and feel every error. And a lot of them aren’t shy about verbalising every single thing that pops into their head throughout the duration of a game.
It can be difficult to find that sweet spot between not being supportive enough of your children’s ambitions and being overbearing to the point where you begin to live vicariously through the lives of your kids. But just as I spoke about last week, I think one of our primary duties to those around us is to be a good example.
Show by doing, not by telling. It’s difficult, and I’m learning that first-hand through my own children’s behaviours, but one thing I have noticed is they are a lot more willing to take on advice and guidance when they see me doing it too.
Before projecting your ambitions onto the next generation place a mirror in front of yourself and begin to question can you raise your own standards? Can how you treat your own body be better? Can your self-talk improve? Are your habits day to day conducive to you setting an example you’d be proud of someone else to follow?
You do those things and not only will your kids benefit, but everyone around you will be the better for it.
Easy choices make for a hard life. Hard choices create an easy life. The easy thing to do as a retired footballer is give up on yourself and try and take a second bite of the apple through your children. The hard choice is to back yourself to be the best you can be and in doing so forge a path for your kids to follow that’ll give them the greatest chance possible to succeed.
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