Football-wise, it has been a pretty haphazard start to the New Year. Mother Nature’s decision to inflict monsoon season upon Ireland has led to cancelled training sessions and yet another postponed match, as our WNL Cup tie against UCD Waves was called off due to unplayable conditions.

It’s a topic of discussion for another day, but I can’t remember ever having experienced as many cancelled matches in one season. There are serious pros and cons for winter versus summer football, although the last few weeks have pushed me majorly in favour of the latter. There is nothing worse than being told on the morning of match day that the game is off, having prepared all week for the occasion.

Keeping motivation and momentum high in such circumstances can be a challenge for coaches and players. With it being the beginning of a new year, motivation in itself is a very relevant topic of conversation. 

I always get a good kick out of the stampede into gyms in January. Last week, I utilised my time waiting for equipment by contemplating the year ahead and setting some goals. Being honest, that waiting time would usually be spent scrolling through the phone! However, since a recent altercation between a very grumpy gym instructor and I, the phone stays firmly in my gym bag. (Not sure exactly what he thought I was using my camera for, but he mellowed slightly when I showed him the [very exciting] picture of my calf on the foam roller, taken for our team fitness log!)

The Christmas break was amazing in terms of switching off and winding down from a busy 2015. As I have written here before, maintaining freshness and drive on the field is enhanced by taking time out when afforded it. Getting some quality time in with my friends and family at home in Galway, plus one or two adventures cross-country, allowed for that mental break.

Since re-joining with Wexford Youths in January, it is clear in training that the hunger and motivation is there within the squad to resume high standards and push on in what has unfortunately been a disjointed League campaign.

Athletes are a unique bunch in the fact that they generally possess naturally strong levels of motivation to train and perform. I know my own personal motivation to train, in general, comes from enjoyment of exercise and the feeling of pushing myself. I love nothing more than the feeling of tired legs after a challenging training session, or being completely fatigued after a match where I have given everything. It is a sense of satisfaction, of achievement, that pervades the entire body. When you are training or playing you think only of the task at hand. If there is a time when I am unmotivated to train, then that is generally when something is off balance.

But what about motivation to train for a sport, and continue to travel and play, when matches are called off and fixture lists are altered? Everybody wants the most competitive League possible. Despite scoring six goals, our most recent performance against Kilkenny United WFC was poor, my own personal contribution particularly so. Maybe it was down to a lack of game-time, or general rustiness, I’m not sure. But a dip in motivation; I would hope not.

What motivates one then to play sport, at this level, which requires sacrifice of finances and time, and receives disproportionate support? Again it’s that sense of satisfaction, but it goes beyond that. I am competitive; all WNL players naturally are. I hate losing, more than anything, even in training, it kills me. I love seeing improvement and development, both within myself and within a team (standing still in life is a concept that does not compute with me). I love winning, as a team, when we have worked together to put into practice what we have been training for, and when everyone has worked for each other.

The prospect of winning this League motivates me more than anything. As it surely does for every player. Motivation should never be a problem when such a reward is within reach.

Motivation and goal-setting are intrinsically linked. After the Christmas break, our manager Will Doyle introduced us to a new member of the coaching staff; a sports psychology student. One of the areas he aims to tackle is our goal-setting abilities and skills. There is a very clear set of squad goals outlined this season, but as individuals I would be hopeful that we could benefit massively from the addition of such coaching. It’s certainly something I could improve upon. 

Motivation for a challenge is surely high within most WNL teams after the extended Christmas break and cancelled matches. While the season is starting slow, there is no doubt it will be a frantic finish, with matches to squeeze in and tired bodies and minds fighting to maintain drive and desire.

The question is: who will maintain it until the very end? Let’s hope monsoon season will calm for good, so we can all start to set a marker on the answer to that question.



Here is a list of previous columns...

A brand new start
Timing makes all the difference
 Moving clubs and moving on
- Time to change perceptions
- Good coaching makes great players
- Why girls play football
- A level playing field
- It had everything...and more
- Stay fresh in body and mind


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