The Joy Of Play & Longevity In Sports
Last week I was lucky to play in a soccer game against the varsity team at my old high school. It was alumni (former players) vs the school team as they prepped for OFSAA (which is a province wide tournament, the highest level of high school sport in the province).
I still play in a casual half-field pick-up game most weeks, but I couldn't tell you when I'd last played a legitimate full field game.
Was it ever fun! I have to say it brought me right back to when I used to play 16 years ago.
Coincidentally, I saw that Francesco Totti retired (at age 40) from professional soccer on the same day as this game. Back when I was a teenager, he was a famous player at the top of his game. Someone I enjoyed watching.
While watching his emotional farewell speech (video below), I felt as though he touched on the best aspects of sport, and some of the same feelings that I've had thinking back to my much humbler (but equally fun) experience competitive athletics.
Totti's words also allow us to reflect on the different roles of sport and fitness as we move through stages of life... And how we must adapt to continue to enjoy fitness with longevity.
Sport is about the thrill. The fun. The emotional ups and downs. The celebrations. The pressure. The camaraderie. The unity. The conflicts. The spirit and tenacity. Fleeting moments of invincibility.
And at the end of the day, it's about the freedom and joy of play, and also the challenge of striving to perform at your best. It's the love of the game. That's what Totti says he'll will miss most. It's what I miss most.
I hope he stays involved in the game he loves in one way or another.
The alumni game last week has me thinking about finding more ways to get back to playing more while I still can run fast, and how to stay involved in the sport beyond that.
Let's all work on finding things we're passionate about, whether they relate to fitness or not, and create more space for them in our lives.
Post Script: One nice side note to this was that my fitness was still remarkably decent based on my regular training plan. As I've gotten out of competitive sport and become busier with different work projects, I've had to train smarter to stay fit and keep my body feeling great, all in less time. It's good to know that my training is keeping me fairly strong and conditioned, even though I'm not pushing as hard in the gym as I used to.