Hockey during Wartime!

History has a long tradition of linking sports and war.

Sport might have started some wars, avoided others and was even caught-up in the middle of others. We are all currently in a ‘silent war’ against this damn Corona Virus and once again, sports have an important social and cultural role to play.

This is what brings me to my keyboard as I would like to take some time for reflection but also champion the importance of sports during such challenging times. 

I believe sport can provide a number of essential elements that will help us endure and prevail during these demanding times. Similarly they can also act as a ‘beacon of hope’ for everyone (that loves sports, naturally…).

If you are slightly unmoved or reluctant to believe the weight sport carries in society these days, then just look around you and note how people are so concerned about postponing major events such as the UEFA European Soccer Championships or the Tokyo Olympics. 

Although I consider myself to be among the most hardcore of sport freaks, there is absolutely nothing more important than to address the current global health catastrophe…not even the Olympic games.

Just to be clear on this, I make no claims to be a Historian, a Psychologist or medical advisor in any shape or form. I don’t even classify myself to be a journalist. This accurate article shared by the equally accurate Ashley Morrison (@notthefootyshow) from ‘The Washington Post’, shows how the original concept of contemporary Media has entered into very distorted and conflicted territory.

I do however, have the intention of sharing some fundamental thoughts based on my empirical and academical experience as a coach, supported by my continuous research and observations. 

I’d like to think, that together with few other people, I have built a very strong platform that constantly engages with a broad community of sports fans and hockey lovers from all over the world. 

We like to think that we use our voice and content to inform, challenge, disrupt, reflect or just simply entertain people.

In sports, and in life in general, ‘reality’ has become increasingly a more relative, subjective and distorted commodity. Let’s say for the sake of argument that a coach suspends a star player from his team for a period of time. This could have been the result of the star player being involved in some sort of inappropriate (on unacceptable terms) behaviour during weekly training sessions. For the reputation of the club and on behalf of the team’s own reputation and stability, the coach decides to publicly state that due to some personal problems the star player wouldn’t be named in the squad for the important match on Sunday. Well, it turns out that the team loses the match, and now the coach is under media scrutiny and faces criticism from the fans’ 

This might be just as silly or random as any other example but it all boils down to the ‘real truth’ is a tough thing to find these days. So many channels and everyone feeling entitled to use their voice, even without any foundation or legitimacy. The media (all of us, really) live in a voracious society, with a need for newsworthy content, that consumes and criticises in a judgemental way, without questioning or reflecting. Fast food, fast news, fast consumption.

How deep and important is the truth on this day and age?

In this fast paced and misinformed era, conventional hierarchical figures and hierarchies are now commonly seen as obsolete or tyrannical structures.

The times have changed, and with that comes the virtue of understanding the challenges and opportunities within the present day era. 

I’m not here to bitch and complain about the way we act and learn, but I am of the opinion that it is important to rely on leadership and expertise, especially during times of great stress and pressure.

If it wasn’t bad enough that we had nations of ‘coaches’, now we have nations of… ‘Politicians’, ‘artists’, ‘comedians’, ‘personal trainers’, ‘healers’…you name it! 

Don’t get me wrong, this social media era (where information and knowledge has become infinitely accessible to everyone) has undoubtedly improved our lives. We have been provided with opportunities that would have been deemed impossible only a couple years ago. 

The mere fact that I am writing this article with the conviction of it reaching thousands of readers, is in itself a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Tough times require clarity. Extreme challenges require pragmatic and strong solutions, even if they surpass our own individual convictions and desires. In a nutshell it’s precisely what is required from a team player.

Regardless of the confusion and some of the social challenges and threats, there are some original sporting elements that can and perhaps, should, apply to such demanding times as the ones we are living in now. 

Times that need a ‘team sport’ mentality. A period where we all need to collaborate as ‘teammates’. Set our egos and individual desires to one side and perhaps ‘take one for the team’, your team. Make no mistake, regardless of distance, race or social status we are as sure as hell playing for the same club here! 

There is only one club right now: ‘Humanity Hockey Club’, and in this game we all need to be Olympic level athletes!

Sport have given us so many things that any attempt to quantify it would be hopeless. It has provided us humans, the possibility to compete within a fair and regulated platform. Sport has shown us that we can achieve higher standards and overcome our own limits. Sport provides us with daily lessons that we can apply to other social and professional relationships. It challenges us every day.

We need, at this time of war, to apply some of the non-negotiable elements we have learnt from sport:

– Discipline

– Resilience

– Mental toughness

– Work on your fitness

– Step up as a leader or follow guidance

– Respect the existing hierarchies (when fair)

It is beyond my comprehension how some people are still under-estimating the true gravity of this threat or just living their normal lives celebrating and exposing themselves and others to unnecessary risks.
Well, I guess that common sense needs to have stupidity as a counterpart, as order needs chaos to coexist.

As the actor Idris Elba (wise man) recently said: ‘The world was about to fall of its axis’ with so much political, climate, racial and social tension going on, this infection might be an opportunity to ‘disinfect’ our planet and improve the way we look and interact with our surroundings.

Whatever the financial and sporting consequences of this dark period, I am sure that we will find solutions to move on, as momentarily painful they can be.
Sport is the coolest thing, but it’s just not a priority at this moment in time and I am sure soon we will learn to appreciate many of the perks that arise from this restrained period.

Be a team player, be that zero-talented player, that is so committed and always available to support other teammates that becomes priceless. Be a valuable person and player. Do what you are required to do. Understand what is required from you and act accordingly and in a responsible manner.

Be an example, not only in your own daily workout routines but to your neighbours, family and friends. Use you real life or social media influence for the good of your community. Be aware of your ethical media responsibility and use it as a blessing not a burden.

Literally everyone can use this enforced ‘holiday’ period for their own personal benefit and development and if you can get better and smarter, hopefully your community benefit from that. Keep certain routines. Sleep and morning habits are particularly important for your health. Balance procrastination with the possibility to read, write or watch content that could be useful for you, enhance your physical condition, travel online and educate yourself. No excuses!

(Photo by Dirk Markgraf / http://www.265-images.com)

We can defeat this opponent, even though it is way stronger, faster and nastier.
With the right strategy and the right approach…

Let’s do it!

Bernardo Fernandes

A special word for the irreplaceable Mark Peart, whom with his professionalism and friendship always supports my writing and content!

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