Thursday 23 March 2017

Mid-life crisis: Brendan's big idea for fat kids

Brenda O'Connor

QINGYUAN, CHINA - JUNE 14: A coach from Real Madrid stands with a young Chinese student before subbing him to a training match at the Evergrande International Football School on June 14, 2014 near Qingyuan in Guangdong Province, China. The sprawling 167-acre campus is the brainchild of property tycoon Xu Jiayin, whose ambition is to train a generation of young athletes to establish China as a football powerhouse. The school is considered the largest football academy in the world with 2400 students, more than 50 pitches and a squad of Spanish coaches through a partnership with Real Madrid. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
QINGYUAN, CHINA - JUNE 14: A coach from Real Madrid stands with a young Chinese student before subbing him to a training match at the Evergrande International Football School on June 14, 2014 near Qingyuan in Guangdong Province, China. The sprawling 167-acre campus is the brainchild of property tycoon Xu Jiayin, whose ambition is to train a generation of young athletes to establish China as a football powerhouse. The school is considered the largest football academy in the world with 2400 students, more than 50 pitches and a squad of Spanish coaches through a partnership with Real Madrid. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

When I was in school I had a learning disorder. Even back in those unenlightened days I think if my disorder had involved one of the three Rs, I probably would have got the help I needed, so that a learning disorder did not become a handicap in my adult life. But I didn't really get the help I needed and it did become a major handicap.

My problem was something that a lot of you might empathise with. I wasn't good at sport. I wasn't good at any sports. I wasn't coordinated, I wasn't fit and I didn't get it. The funny thing was that back then, that was your fault, and you were vaguely punished for it. I don't know how it is nowadays for kids but when I was an uncoordinated, unsporty, unfit child it was pretty hellish on PE day.

You dreaded PE. You dreaded the sense of uselessness. The sense of being a spare prick for not one, but usually two periods in a row. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that I am not one of those determined people who tries against all odds. If I'm not good at something, I'm pretty much not interested. And this made it worse. Because not only was I not able to do the things we were supposed to do in PE, I didn't even understand what they were. I had no model in my head for what it should look like, because I never watched any sports. So I had no concept of how I might consider going about it. Nothing to mimic, no guidelines, just an increasing lack of confidence and a sense that I had no control over my limbs.

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