My dad and brother are completely hockey mad, so as a result, I would be taken along to training every Sunday morning. Hockey has always been a sport that I wished I was good at as it is such a big part of our family (trust me it feels like the conversation reverts to this topic every dinner time!) I remember my coach being a very scary and shouty man (although I know he was lovely underneath the loud exterior). I was always allowed to get involved in everything (but he has since reminded me of how he helped me to cheat on the shuttles)-I would have a shorter distance to run to compared with everyone else. I found this hugely embarrassing but I guess it was better than keeping everyone waiting on those rainy Sunday mornings. I always remember being scared whenever we played matches, even if they were just friendly ones, as I knew that if I got the ball, I would mess up and let the team down. But at the same time I was always frustrated with myself that I didn’t get more involved in the game. So either way, I was at a loss and this just proved competitive team sport was not the one for me.
As I did all these extra hockey sessions, my primary school let me play in their hockey team-I don’t know what were they thinking. That is definitely a sure fire way for the school to lose their reputation and let us fall to the bottom of the leader board. But I guess we were only 7 so no one really paid attention to these things. I remember feeling both proud, excited and absolutely terrified at the same time. I really don’t know how I managed to even function with this crazy hurricane of emotion over a match running through my head. But again during these matches I just didn’t want the ball to be passed to me as I was scared and embarrassed that I would let the team down but at the same time I would be frustrated with myself that I didn’t get more involved in the games. The difference with these matches being that the pressure was so much greater as it was no longer just a friendly practice.
I have a mental battle with tennis every time it is suggested. My family will often suggest a friendly match when everyone meets up at Easter. For me, this is just embarrassing, even if I know it is just a friendly match with family. This is because we will always play doubles and my spatial awareness is just shocking. As a result I continually feel I am letting my partner down and find the whole experience mortifying. Regardless of who my teammate is, we will always loose and I know full well it is entirely down to me. This is for a number of reasons related to my CP. Firstly, when running around the court, I cannot move as quickly as I would like due to the CP affecting my legs. Secondly, my coordination of my arms and legs is all over the place, combining this with the fact that my squint has affected my depth perception means I am always swinging my racquet wildly without often hitting the ball.
I took ballet lessons for several years when I was at primary school but whenever it came to doing my grade exams, I would take a presentation class exam. This meant that I did the exams on my own rather than with my classmates and would only choose the dances and exercises that I could do. I remember feeling so grateful that my teacher was allowed to come in with me to the exams so I didn’t need to face the scary examiners on my own (I got special treatment as the teacher was not allowed to go into the normal exams). This was a really positive experience as I got a huge sense of achievement and satisfaction out of passing my exams. Also, I had the loveliest teacher who didn’t force me to do things I couldn’t and was just willing to fully engage with me despite the issues I had. This meant that I felt fully accepted and involved in the class despite not always doing the same exercises as others.
I really enjoyed this sport, I reckon this was down to it being an individual sport so I didn’t have to cope with the embarrassment and sense of letting other people down. Also, my teacher was just a star and just had a really welcoming attitude. She knew exactly when to push me out of my comfort zone so I could try something new and I never felt that she was treating me any different to her other students. The problem that I had with horse riding was that as my leg and arm muscles contract I struggled to keep my feet in the stirrups as my heels would continually come up and I would slide out. It was also more difficult to coordinate the movement of my arms and legs when everything was working independently of each other. Lastly, my balance is tested when sitting on the horse. I distinctly remember going on a ride out in the local area and completely losing my balance. I slid off the saddle but was scared to fall off so I was hanging off the side of my lovely pony William whilst clinging on for dear life! I do remember just never wanting to partake in the shows as I didn’t want the pressure of everyone watching and being judged. My teacher persuaded me to do one show where I did dressage and jumping. I came last in both events and was given a rosette for my participation-not something I was going to do again in a hurry!
I really enjoy swimming and every summer holiday I realise how much I miss it through the rest of the year . The problem I have is due to my CP, my left side is much weaker than my right. This means that when swimming front crawl, I cannot stay in a straight line and end up swimming in circles if I am not careful. I think that over the years I have learnt to overcompensate for this and end up veering to the right which makes very little sense! I definitely am a long distance swimmer, on our most recent family holiday to Spain, Dad and I went on one particularly long pre breakfast swim. There was a swimming lane which was 1.2km in length. Dad persuaded me to do it with him by telling me it would only take half an hour. We were in the water for 50 minutes. The problem that I encountered was being forced to do breaststroke (my least favourite stroke!) This is because, when doing crawl, I couldn’t stay in a straight line and Dad had to keep calling me back on course. I then tried to swap over to backstroke but that was just a shambles as I had no idea where I was going. Therefore I resorted to breaststroke. This was very frustrating as I never feel like I am making any progress as I just go so slowly. During another family holiday we spent some time on a boat in Turkey. I would take myself off for pre breakfast swims and would head out straight across the bay that we were staying in, across the shipping lane regardless of all the boats that may be coming and going.
So all in all, although I may get frustrated and embarrassed when I struggle with some of these hobbies. I am very grateful that despite my CP I am able to get stuck into so many different things. I am aware that this is not necessarily the case for everyone button I hope it shows that even if you get frustrated, embarrassed or just find something difficult, it is still worth giving it a go as you never know how you may surprise yourselves and achieve more than you ever thought you could.