Six hours in a cold London coach station between 2am and 8am gives a lot of time and incentive to reflect upon the decisions you’ve made and what you’ve learnt from making them. Thankfully, when your ‘job’ is a writer, self-reflection is almost the same as work.
One year in to taking a gamble on trying to make a life, and one day a living, waffling about British American Football, I thought I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learnt in a quick mini-series.
First and foremost, I’ve learnt that at the heart of it all? Are people.
Passionate people who step up, step out, and go that extra mile to make a difference to the sport as a whole – who share DC’s goal to #GrowTheGame. Family (or Phamily) is a popular theme in football (and Fast and Furious movies) and DC might be dead by now without my family stepping up to support me. Travelling across the Nation these past 12 months, I’ve seen more and more examples of the close knit bonds this sport both creates, but also requires. Whether it’s blood or bonds, it’s these close connections that can make all the difference. So many of the top programmes across the country have a close-knit unit at their core – be it the Allens, the Alexis’, etc… or the Phoenix’s twelfth man that was integral to their Britbowl victory.
Similarly, on a wider scale, it’s going to be people that are the key to seeing this community prosper. Whether it’s Clubs and Committees who reach out with highlights and news and events information, caring as much about the wider sport as their own needs and priorities. Or the various individuals and initiatives that have stepped up to provide greater and greater access to the game – American Football Development Ltd, Firstdown, or Rob Rooksby and the BAFA Schools work. Close to my own heart, there’s the 50+ guys and gals of #TeamDC, from all across the Britball Nation, that take time out of busy lives to contribute to seven-days-a-week of all things Britball. Oh yeah, and we’re getting bigger. There’s the explosively expanding Onside Productions who’ve upped and re-upped their game again and again in the past 12 months, or the much-maligned members of our National Governing Body and their support staff who’ve put on the frankly amazing accomplishment of something like 13 National Finals in ~30 days.
As a community we often give BAFA a lot of schtick, but having personally covered, what? Only six of those thirteen finals? I know I’m tired. Dawg tired, boss. And yet the BAFA boys and girls have done more than twice the events, are there before I get there… and still there long after I leave. BAFA ain’t perfect, I’m fairly certain they wouldn’t claim to be, but you can’t fault their commitment to the cause.
Ever wonder why ‘X’ team/programme/organisation has something better than you have it? Odds are someone stepped up and did more than you did, went further than you did, tried a little harder.
But hey – that just means you can do the same thing too, with a little extra effort.
Perhaps quite poignantly, I wrote this prior to learning about the passing of Britball Legend Gerry McManus.
Coach McManus is the perfect example of how much of a difference an individual can make to this sport, and to each individual within our community.
I never met the man, but my social media is full of eulogies about all he brought to the sport, the community, and the differences he made to the lives of those around him.
In memory of Coach Gerry McManus, let’s be good people today, eh?