Monday, February 06, 2006

Amateur People in a Professional World

Amateur People in a Professional World

“Get out and kick a ball!” the age old words of wisdom that were passed on from father to son and teacher to pupil as a means to freshen the mind and relax the body after a long tortuous day at school. These days publications are full of features and tips on how to achieve the infamous ‘work life balance’, however for some, myself included the boyhood advice has resulted in the work life scales been permanently tipped by the commitment of full time sport.

While the rest of the workforce in Ireland strive to balance out the pressures and stresses placed on them by their workplace, there is an ever growing group of men and women who, as a result of their sporting commitments struggle to operate on the same playing field as their work colleagues.

In my case, I play Gaelic Football at senior level for my home club in county Leitrim. This entails training twice a week in Dublin for the first four months of the year, and again twice at the weekend in my native county. During the summer months the schedule changes to midweek training in Mulingar, a half way point so all team members can train together. All told its 4 nights a week out of 7 and that does not include any extra gym work that you may need to do.

I am but one of a disenfranchised group made up of men and women from all sorts of sporting backgrounds within the workforce that spends several hours in the evenings after work travelling to and from training and matches. In order to progress in your career it often means starting early and eating ‘al desko’ on a regular basis. Fortunately, my particular place of work is quite understanding, but still I still find myself struggling from the pull in both directions, you can imagine the scenario ‘desperately trying to finish the new business tender, all the time hoping that a Director wont ask for a run through that evening, as your supposed to be in Kinnegad for a challenge game!’ Without doubt the more your career advances the more difficult it is to strive to find a balance Worse still the office social events are often a non runner as life on 7up gets untenable as all around you indulge.

As a group my sporting brethren are forced to maximise our time in the office as working late isn’t always an option. We arrive to work sometimes on crutches, sometimes sporting cuts and bruises causing quizzical looks and furrowed brows from our less active colleagues.

Not that I’m complaining, speaking for myself I wouldn’t swap my team or my sport for anything. But if you’re the colleague who always schedules conference calls at 5.30pm or the client who rings looking for the 1997 file ASAP at 6.30pm or even if you’re the office socialite who always available for that after work beverage spare a thought for the frazzled looking worker who is hurriedly trying to shut down Outlook, grab a gear bag and head half way across the country only to run round in the cold and rain and then drive back again!