I must say I really enjoyed the Olympic Games – even to the point where I found myself watching some if the lesser known sports at every given chance.
Now that the dust has settled and the mass hysteria and euphoria returned to something resembling normality, have we in the football community seen anything different or learnt anything new?
For the moment let’s set aside any views as to which countries they competed for, in my book we have five competitors from Northern Ireland who returned home with medals – three rowers and two boxers – an absolutely fantastic performance by them all.
Four years of intensive training and personal sacrifices were condensed into two weeks of competition – and when trimmed even further represented only a few minutes actual competitive action.
It’s unfair to single any one of the five out, but in this instance I will, simply because I heard the pre-Games interview given by the single scull and eventual bronze medallist Alan Campbell in the rowing.
The commitment and personal sacrifices that lad committed to win his bronze medal was phenomenal, yet the humility he expressed in achieving his goal really showcased amateur sportsmanship at its very best.
Yet, if we fast forward just a little, shove a few tenners into a brown envelope and very suddenly we have a much different type of sportsman and somehow that very word humility becomes a very scarce commodity.
I refer, of course, to some footballers, who once they begin to get paid for their services suddenly obtain the prima donna mantel or ‘Billy Big Time’ status.
Sadly, this unfortunate side of our game surfaced again at the weekend as I watched the West Bromich Albion versus Liverpool game on television.
With Liverpool 2-0 behind and down to 10 men, the camera focused on the Liverpool subs’ bench only to discover two players in fits of laughter.
I’m busy thinking ‘what’s all that about?’
It’s the very first league game in the English Premier League, your team is getting chinned and up against it, yet mega money signings Andy Carroll and Charlie Adam can find something apparently very funny?
Strange how some people, when not selected in their teams, can quickly lose their sincerity and loyalty to the point where even though their team is staring defeat in the face they appear at times totally disinterested.
There was no apparent feeling of disappointment for their team or its fans.
This type of unacceptable behaviour doesn’t make it any easier for me or others when asked to justify the childish ‘spoilt brat’ conduct which some footballer actually appear to thrive on.
Although not all that common at local level, arrogance and disrespect does still exist.
I can well remember an instance when as a manager I had left a couple of reasonably high profile players out of my starting line-up and had relegated both to the bench.
During the game I stepped back from the technical zone towards the dugout and within earshot of the substitutes and I overheard the said two laughing and discussing where they would meet up later that evening for a few beer.
Needless to say I flipped.
Both knew quite well my expectation always of the substitutes was to watch the game intently stay totally focused and remain dialled in at all times.
That way when or if a substitution is made then the player coming on knows exactly why and what will be expected of him.
I turned and devoured both lads and to be fair the two of them totally accepted they had been unprofessional and had set a very bad example to the three remaining subs – who incidentally were all youth team players.
When employed and getting paid by others in any walk of life, people mush accept and adhere to the basic principles set out in the job description section – to give their best at all times.
Sadly we have some footballers who don’t do what it says on the tin.
These same players are the ones who then tarnish all the others who act as the perfect role models.
What I witnessed on TV at the weekend does nothing to enhance the public perception by many of the petulance and arrogance of modern day footballers.
Finally, and again a spin-off from the Olympics was the news that Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin whilst in Coleraine last week to welcome home our superb medal winning rowers yet again hinted at financial assistance to improve the totally inadequate facilities at Bann Rowing Club – combined with a similar promise to improve boxing club facilities ay many venues in different areas.
Again, this is a must and very welcome news.
May I then ask that same Culture Minister to hurry up and forward the same commitment to training facilities at many Irish League clubs.
At several Premiership clubs the training facilities are practically non existent.
Now is the time when, post Olympics, sport is at the forefront of most people’s minds and this wee country of ours has proven once again that given the tools we can match the best in the world in sport.