Im not a gym junkie or star athlete, but I do love to participate in sport. I have never pursued lessons in any of the sports, and even as a kid I was only able to attend a few sports (cricket, football and tennis) due to a lot moving around, divorce, no money and my mother failing to get her licence, until we all left home.
I played cricket for a few seasons having been able to catch the bus to Heathcote after school, and wait to be picked up after dark, when my step father finished work.
I played football for a few seasons in my adolescence due to having friends who lived close by, able to give me a lift home after training and to the games, sometimes the car was full and I missed out as there was no way of getting there.
I played tennis for a few seasons when I was about 16, til I was 18 or 19 because I was able to catch a lift to the venues by the other players, who were all in their late 30’s or early 40’s with kids of their own. The tennis courts in Axedale were just down the road so I could ride there on my bike or walk there in a few minutes.
For some strange reason sports was the lowest priority of my parents, and thus I fought ‘tooth and nail’ to do the sports I did. We used to live in a place called Barnadown on a property that my step father was managing and I played cricket in Goornong. So to play, I had to ride the 8-10 kilometres in the morning to leave my bike at the coaches place, and make sure I would beat the bus, so I could catch it en-route to school. After training I would ride my bike home with one of those dynamo powered lights which only gave light if you kept the wheels going. The roads in central Victoria back then left a lot to be desired, and so every time there was a car or truck coming I would have to pull all the way off the road to be sure they would not hit me.
To play football when I lived in Barnadown, I would sometimes ride my bike the 25 km to the venue (when we played at home in Toolleen (Mount Pleasant). I would then play in my under 17’s game then also play in the reserves and then ride home. I was super fit… I dont think I was very good, but I always liked participating in the team and even though we got flogged most weeks, I just loved playing, running around and having a kick.
When I got my licence on the 15th January 1993, (a day etched in my memory banks as one of the best days of my life), I had freedom. I could go where I wanted and when I wanted! However with my age and having just finished secondary school (year 12) I had to get a job. At that stage of my life, and with everything else on my plate, University was not an option, I didnt value education as I do now, so I drove around to different places in search for a job, with nothing more than a piece of paper with my name, address, home phone number and a couple of lines about my work at McDonalds and on a farm – that was my resume. Now this blog is not about my career from then on, what Im telling you is that I had to get a job and with no experience and no leverage, I had to take what I could get. This meant working when and where I was told.
I started work at Axedale Sands and Gravel and this job had sporadic hours and I needed the overtime, so this took priority over my sporting career (if you could call it that). I also had a girlfriend and so I made that a priority too. That was just it, sport was and never was a priority of mine or else I would have made it work. I instead chose to do paid work and that allowed me to get better at that side of things and make more money, which was, and is still a priority of mine.
The fact that sport wasnt a priority to me didnt change the fact that I enjoyed it. So in the years since getting my licence, I have played a few seasons of various sports. This was always combined with catching up with my friends and enjoying a beer or two after a game. I played a few seasons of tennis, cricket and table tennis. I also like mountain biking, rogaining – which is like competitive orienteering and hiking.
I do like to stay fit, but the days of owning a 6 pack, or caring for one for that matter are gone. I think the whole fitness industry is ridiculous to be frank. It preys on the weakness of people and causes people to cough up huge sums of money, knowing full well that unless the person is completely obsessed with fitness the rest of us are just paying for the ‘privilege’ of saying “I go to a gym”, it might be once a year but I still go.
So, we were at a friends place a few months ago now and one of the friends of our friends was telling us about playing tennis in a competition on Thursday nights. My ears pricked up! I said, ‘well if you need a fill in let me know’. He (Steve) said ‘really’? we have players pull out all the time and we have to forfeit, so be ready for a call! I was thrilled. Mind you I hadnt played tennis in a competition since ive been married which is nearly 10 years and before that maybe once or twice in a few social games with a mate. Armed with the fact that I ‘could’ be called up the following Thursday, I went a bought a racket. Sure enough the call came on Wednesday evening… ‘Owen can you play in Eltham tomorrow night?’ ‘I’m there’!
Rocking up on the Thursday night was great, I limbered up as best I could, a few little hip flex moves, stretch the quads, move the hips and arms around and I was good. We won the game that night which was great, I played a few good shots and I was back… thank you muscle memory! I continued to play for the next few weeks and was accepted as part of the regular line up. We lost a few games too and I thought, if only I got to practice some shots and watch the ball onto the racket we could win every week… white line fever… can you see it?
I caught up with another mate (Ivan) and he mentioned he’d love a hit of tennis too and so we arranged a regular fortnightly Monday night game. I rang around finding a place to play, with Ivan on one side of town and me on the other, I wanted somewhere central. So where else in Melbourne, than good old Melbourne Park, you know, where the Australian Open is played. Unfortunately centre court was unavailable and so we were ushered to one of the indoor courts with no grandstand seating. Again after a few stretches and limbering up, we were into it and decided to have a game as all men do… who is going to win bragging rights! About 4 games in and POP!!! Im on the ground rolling around in agony. Someone has just thrown a brick at my leg but turning around no one was there! I knew instantly what I had done… My right achilles!
I lied on the floor of the tennis court for the next hour and twenty minutes in pain just trying to stay still and putting up with Ivan’s jokes about me being old etc… Never did I realise what this was going to mean for my life for the next 3 months and up to 6 months. If only I could take back one minute and pause for a longer drink, a rest, run around and pick some balls up, would that have changed the result. Maybe we couldnt get a court, or something else become a priority… but no, it had happened and I am lying on the floor in pain, waiting to go to the hospital.
Im now 14 days into my rest/recovery period which sees me not able to get out of bed til Thursday, with strict doctors orders to stay in bed 23.75 hours per day. I had surgery last Monday and Thursday is my first post operative appointment, hoping that the swelling and recovery is going to plan.
For the family this has had a huge impact, I am the primary carer for our 3 children, its my job to get them to school each day and pick them up, whilst running my business, allowing my wife to be the main breadwinner of our household. Fortunately, I have an amazing wife (Lisa) who has gone above and beyond to do the best for me and our kids while I recover. She also has a very supportive workplace who has allowed her some time off to take up the slack where we are unable to arrange care for the kids. This has made my wife’s life (hell) very stressful, which upsets me and Im sorry for, but she is taking it in her stride, which is great.
Ive been waited on hand and foot for the past 14 days, which is something that I could never get use to. I have so much to do for my kids, my new business, my work and around the house which is going to have to wait while I recover, however long that may be, much to my dismay, but I will be back! I dont really know yet what to tell people yet for how to avoid this type of injury, but when I do, i’ll let you know! Thanks for reading!