For the whole of my life football, or soccer if you are American, has been my favourite sport. I guess I am bound to have fallen in love with football: My dad is a fan and I inherit this from him, I have been watching FA Cup via ATV (yes back in my childhood football is still available on free TV) and since 13 I have been living in England where football is “more than life and death”. At one stage I probably can recognise the faces of every Premier League and even Championship players, which is a strict contrast to those football commentators in Hong Kong where they have to track the number assinged to the player and even then they read out name of the player for the wrong team.
However I watch football far more than play it. One of the reasons is that it is difficult to get 10 people from my peer group, let alone 22, to play 5-a-side at my age. However even when I was in my school or colleage days I tend to watch more. I realise that is more to do with my inability to play sports, and I mean any type of sports. The fact that I am not physically fit enough leading to my shockingly awful performance on the pitch, makes me even more sceptical of playing and instead rather to watching the game comfortably in front of TV or inside the stadium. It is a bad cycle, which is similar to the fact once I realised I can’t really cut it in the subject I was studying I tend to give up.
Few years back my wife started to fall in love with tennis, and somehow she thought it is a good idea we built a common hobby. The idea is sound, unfortunately my soul and body is weak. I have never been fond of the idea playing outdoor sports in Hong Kong where temperature is consistently over 30 degrees Celsius and the relative humidity is never less than 99.9%. More importantly I am awful at playing and why I want to put myself going through that while I feel enough defeatism at work? Anyway, as always in a relationship, my wife (then fiancée) won. I was forced to play but only reluctantly, and if I can find an excuse to give a training session a miss I usually will be glad to do so.
Towards the end of last year, out of nowhere, my play has suddenly picked up. When I say “pick up” it merely means I can return the ball ending inside the court from time to time. However this is encouraging enough for me and funny enough I start enjoying playing tennis. In fact I am eager to play as I want to improve. I guess that is another solid proof that man is shallow, we only want to do things we are or at least we think we can be good at. Either way it is good as I have never been so dedicted to play any sports for my last 30 years, and exercise is much needed at the current stage of my life just to get myself healthy.
I must confess I am not into watching tennis as much as football. Nonetheless more I watch players like Djokovic and Nadal play I learn more. I don’t mean just in terms of how body moves and tactics they are playing, but more how they do things. Recently I feel I have not been progressing as much in tennis despite I put in more work in, and sometimes lose it when things are not going my way. This is something you don’t find from those top players. Djokovic saved 4 match points against Tsonga in the quarter final of French Open to keep his dream of being the holder of all Grand Slam titles alive, and the happened inside a stadium where virtually everyone is against you (given Tsonga is French). With so much at stake (we are talking about putting his name in the history book) I just do not know how he can keep his nerve. His EQ and AQ must be extraordinary high. Like Djokovic I like playing light heart jokes at times but how he can manage all the expectation and pressure is really out of me. As for Nadal, my favouriter player, he just works tirelessly and never gives up. After he beats David Ferrer, who is probably the best player on clay after Nadal, in straight sets and with so much ease in last night’s semi-final, the reporter has asked him what is the secret of being so unbeatable on clay. The response is simple, “There is no secret. I work hard all my life and hope things go my way and giving me a chance to enjoy playing in wonderful matches like semi-final of a Grand Slam.”
Indeed hard work even when your chips are down and handling the difficult the situation are the ways to succeed. While I am still far away from that in real life, it is still a pleasure to see the rare success examples by watching the game. I just can’t wait to see Nadal vs Djokovic in the Final of French Open tomorrow!