Nottingham 2018 – End of blog
15. AND NOW
Where next? Will I lead? Be led. Want to be involved. Will I be part of the solution? End up drinking bottles of whiskey alone?
ARRIVAL & ACCLIMATISATION
The long haul flights and stopover through Abu Dhabi Do. Watching five films, an episode of South Park and a documentary about whales. The kit will be there apparently. And so much other of the crap from 2018? We’ll return to that later. I’m amused. I’m relaxed and determined. And driven. And I’m going to play the best tournament I’ve ever played. I accessed some fire in my abdomen, found a drive I was afraid to access before. I couldn’t. I’ve been ‘breathing like a motherf*****’ like Wim Hof and Federico Black said. And it’s been working. And I’m going to be a coach as well as a player now.
Arriving wrecked and jet lagged Thursday morning. Staying awake through the tiredness. Terrible nights sleep. I have Freddie Mercury ringing in my head from one of the five films on the trip over.
Out into the heat and humidity to play a first practice match vs. Malaysia. Running around in a slow-motion version of yourself, but not in a ‘movie-style glamorised with epic background music’ type of slow-motion, more in a ‘having a bad dream running away from a monster can’t get legs to move’ slow-motion.
Of course, I once played for ‘Team Malay’ back in Ireland.
So, it was a sort of homecoming.
Back to the hotel. Felt sick. No injuries at all this time so of course I have a chest infection I’m getting over. There’s always something. So a mix of that, jet lag and exhaustion all giving my body a kicking. I went to bed and slept for six hours. Woke up and still felt awful. Slept more. So I didn’t train for the next two days. The carefully planned 4-day getting used to the conditions and heat comprised of sitting around the nice air-conditioned hotel.
I did walk down to the mall nearby and have a coffee. A mall is a shopping centre by the way, for some reason we’re all calling it a mall. Not in my Ireland gear, not with any Touch people. Looking around. I find this experience interesting. How to stay strong and focused and a sports person and how to stay open to the experience of being here. What’s the balance?
The bits of yourself you bring all the way over here. Wherever you go, there you are. The people you like, the people you don’t. The focus. The bubble. The ‘Avengers Endgame’ grand fight between good and evil which we will refer to again later.
Even if it was just in a shopping centre/mall, I was trying to get a sense of the place, the people. So interesting. Right now, I’d rather talk to anyone here than any person involved in the Touch World Cup. (Until I get back in the bubble of course and I’m 100% in that. Completely.) I talked to a waitress, she didn’t have great English but just a moment, to connect, feel something of here. Outside of banal superficial, ‘thank you sir’. To acknowledge each other as people.
The smells and the tastes of the food. Watching the faces of people walking by. The couples in love or lust. The mothers and fathers with young children. How they interacted. Sometimes grandparents too. The fashion. The heads stuck in phones. The occasional obesity. The general smiles and friendliness. I absorbed as much of it as I could. And it’s just in a stupid shopping centre. But it’s still people. The feeling of being a little part of it.
What a joy it was. Disconnected from everything. I went to the cinema to see Avengers. I was so excited. It felt like the first three hours I had to myself to relax in about six weeks.
Ania gave me a really good definition of extrovert/introvert. Extrovert – you get your energy back by being around people. Introvert – you get it back by being alone. In that sense, I’m definitely more introvert. I love being with people. And it’s good for me. Helps me get over myself. But I need my Ian-time too.
So, hanging around a hotel lobby for hours waiting for a photo with some ambassador, and other ‘team’ stuff like that. No thanks. Good team stuff. Yes. I went to the jacuzzi.
So games start tomorrow. I came here in two roles – as a player with the Mens 40s. I know in advance that this is a development team, we have 5 new caps and other less experienced players. There are times (lots of them) when we’ll struggle to be really competitive. In many senses, this team has achieved by actually arriving here. But still, I have my competitive instinct. I will have to be a big leader and playmaker in the team. The person who has made this team happen, and who has made it all completely worthwhile for me, Jono, asked us all to write down our personal goals and put them in an envelope. Mine were – ‘Support my teammates. Be true to myself.’
Game 1 vs Japan. Lost 7-1.
You cannot believe how stressed out I was worrying whether I’d get a good nights sleep last night. If I don’t, my chest infection will come back, the heat blah blah. I woke up for three hours in the middle of the night but then went back to sleep and slept for six more hours. Once I got that out of the way, I was on easy street. Ish.
Lads that was quare hot. My head was throbbing like when Thanos joins all the six Infinity Stones. Boom. Boom. BOOM. All I see is red. More ice towels please. Japanese lads half my size, half my weight, one after another running at me. All trying to bring you down. How many minutes are gone? What temperature is it? What day is it? Who am I?
This is living. I can’t underestimate how much I loved this game. Playing in a World Cup in an Irish jersey again. I was in my element. I loved it.
Got a try in the last minute as well. Threw in the little fist pump as well. Good to be back. Even if it was only as part of a big loss. But it was good to get a score on the scoresheet.
vs. USA Drew 5-5
We should have won this game. Don’t have time to write about it now but we were 5-4 up and let in a score with a few seconds to go. Their players were a bit mental during the game, screaming at each other. I quite enjoyed it. Fair play to them. I’d say they were delighted to get a draw. They’re sharing the hotel with us so I’ll probably be going home with some US gear.
Off to catch the bus. Nice easy one today vs. New Zealand who beat Japan 14-1 or something. Then Malaysia.