By no means am I blaming football for my mental health problems. I have fond memories of playing sport and being part of a team/organisation. I was gifted with the ball and excelled on the pitch.
It was my father who ruined my experience. It was not enough for my father to simply appreciate that his son was capable of running, jumping and kicking a ball. He brought along a competitive spirit that was not only embarrassing but toxic.
I was skillful but I was not a naturally gifted athlete with any attributes that made me excel far beyond my years. I was playing in the year above and starting in the team but again this was not enough for my father who expected me to excel in the squad. I lacked in stature and athletic ability (speed mostly) and this would eventually lead to difficulties towards the end of my playing days.
If I ever get around to having kids, I will think long and hard before enrolling them in to a competitive sport / environment. The problem with competitive sport is it breeds a mindset based on results. The schooling system is also guilty of this. I would like this post to focus on the issue of sports although I also experienced major issues at school.
There is an argument for competitive sport but my overall consensus is it did me more harm than good. The need to be the best always critiquing how I played, never being satisfied and the game forever playing on my mind. For something that gave me very little it is very taxing on the psyche.
My team disbanded and I was forced to join a new team in a more difficult league for which I was not prepared. The game was no longer fun and became serious business with everyone trying to make it to the senior squad where money was involved.
It was a combination of life getting in the way of my dream of becoming a footballer and my own poor life choices. It takes a very strong willed individual to ignore the lights, girls & music and focus solely on the game. You need to be wiling to sacrifice for the sport. When I gave up on football, I started to experience identity issues as I felt the game made me who I was.
My dad only wanted the best for me, so when I started to act out and started to steal it was a shock to him and he didn't know how to handle my behaviour.
It wasn't until I stopped playing football and realised that the game had left me feeling empty and took a lot away from me. It also left me with a competitive streak that I sought to satisfy elsewhere. I felt deep sadness that my own stupid decisions had ruined my dream of becoming a footballer.
In my later years I have trouble agreeing to be part of a team, group or association. Football is not the sole reason for this but adds to my mental problems associated with gang mentality. It also brings out an us against them mentality which I don't want anything to do with. Keeping to myself has brought on its own challenges and I fight with negative emotions most of the time as I come to terms with who I am.
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