Like many sport psychologists, I grew up immersed in the world of sport and competition, mostly football and mostly the endless spectacle of the English premier league. As a committed player and devoted captain for my local girls team, I understood what it meant to belong to a team and work toward a common goal. As a loyal Manchester United fan, often travelling back and forth from the theatre of dreams, I understood what it meant to be invested in a group of people who dedicated their lives to being the most prime version of themselves. My experiences with football and sport in general, birthed a motivation in me to do better. To be better. To help others do better and be better. To be the most optimal self. “if only there was a job in this” I thought, unaware of the scope of employability in modern sport.
Unfortunately for my parents bank account my light bulb-moment decision to pursue a career in sport psychology wasn’t that definitive. The arrival at that decision was more of a meandering through traditional psychology, recreational student sport and an unfulfilling postgraduate degree. Having adopted that same drive to do better and be better, I decided that a career in psychology was just right for me. I would be giving people the comfort, encouragement and tools they need to pick themselves up from depression or anxiety, allowing them to be the best version of themselves that they can be.
The First Degree
I was excited. I knew exactly what I wanted and researched the path I needed to take to get it. But having obtained an undergraduate degree in psychology, captained my university’s football team for 2 years and followed that up with a masters degree in applied psychology, I was left feeling somewhat dissatisfied.
Halfway through my masters degree at Coventry University I became agitated with the lack of fulfilment and perception of heading in the direction I had envisioned for myself. I wanted something different than what was being offered. The values embedded in the field of psychology appealed to me: the study of human behaviour, the ‘why’s’ and how’s’ of thoughts and emotions. How can we train our minds the same way we train our bodies to achieve our life’s goal. To be strong, adaptable and resilient. But something was missing. At this time I was invited to play in a varisty football match for my old university team as an alumni member. The event was a day long affair, with 2 universities competing against each other as enemies in all sports and then reconvening at the end of the night to enjoy student life as friends.
I played for the first time in a year and contributed to our win by manning the back line. I forgot what it felt like to play. I forgot what it felt like to play and win. The buzz of coming off better than the other team. The thrill of the end result being in your favour after enduring 90 minutes of catty trash talk and emotion fuelled fouls. The belonging. Setting a goal and achieving it, Pushing yourself. That is what was missing.
‘If only there was a job in this’, I thought.
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