Dealing with Change – My Personal Story

Although fencing was my first sport, and i can boast winning a National gold and two silver medals at the age of 17, tennis and football have dominated my sporting life that is until a spring evening in April 2008…

Since none of us were getting any younger, we had started to invite few youngsters to come and play with u which meant that we had to keep reasonably fit if not as fast and agile as them. I was playing in our regular 5 A-side football on Sunday evening and i seem to remember that our team was winning 4-3 when I received the ball on the edge of our D, I controlled it “majestically” and whilst trying to clear the ball as soon as possible, out of nowhere this youngster (Charlie) made a crunching tackle and at the same time…..ended my football career for ever!

I knew he had done some serious damage at the time, not only because of the excruciating pain i felt, but also because of the look of concerns on the face of my fellow team members…..although i did catch the odd “get up you wimp” between my screams and tears from the “friendly opposition banter”!!!

It wasn’t for another 2 weeks, until I went to see a specialist and had and MRI scan that the full extent of the damage was revealed. I had torn both cruciate ligaments, crushed cartilage around the knee and knee cap…not good news for someone who plays competitive county tennis, helps to coach a footy team (my son’s) and plays regular football!

As the full extent of my injury came to light and i was preparing for the op, I was seriously wondering what impact this would have on my football and tennis…OMG what was I going to do!!

The operation was a success and Mr B who is a knee specialist surgeon did an amazing job (well he is a knee specialist after all)!! He used one of my hamstrings to repair the damage through keyhole surgery WOW!!

It was during my recovery period, that i started to ponder and wonder what my sporting life was going to be, since my surgeon told me that football (at the age of 46 at the time) was a bad idea anyway!!

Part of the rehabilitation process included a lot of physio to build the strength in the knee and also doing a lot of walking……that’s the “walking” I used to hate!! But interestingly, what I thought of a chore became amazingly rewarding for many reasons.

Firstly my wife started to accompany me on these walks and we started talking more than we ever did. As the walks became longer so did the quality of our conversations.

It was also during one of these walks that she mentioned to me that one of her friend’s husband played drums and he was looking to reform a band. I did play in a band whilst doing my military service when I was 21 but that was years ago, but then I thought why not? So I did go and meet Paul…

As my leg and knee was getting stronger it became possible to go back and play some social tennis to start with wearing what was probably the biggest knee brace you will ever see on any court – I was completely paranoid about getting injured again and lost a lot of confidence but little by little started to play harder.

During that period we started to have more free weekends to do things as a couple and we went to watch some friends compete in the National Dance Competition in Blackpool – they were dancing in the over 50’s Jive and rock n’ Roll competition. Wow I have never experienced anything like this – it was amazing, fun, noisy and full of colours….and they won!!

My wife (an avid fan of strictly) then came out with this sentence “how about some dancing lessons since your knee is feeling so much better?”

So, here we are after 6 years since the accident….I now play regularly in a band called Error 404 and we do about 12 gigs a year, my wife and I are shortly to take our Jive and Rock n’ roll bronze medal, my son Tom and I won the men’s double tennis tournament at our local club this year and I am writing this blog half way through a 10 mile walk……so much has come out of one major change that I am richer and happier for it

As for football, well I thoroughly enjoyed watching my son Sam’s football team winning the league and narrowly missing on the cup in the final last season but watched with pride as Sam won football player of the season, and all this in their last ever year as a team before Uni and work. …and as for Charlie who made the tackle, well he played in the team too and we are still good mates !

Freddie is MD and Business Simplifier at The Red Thread Partnership