A Sportsman's Dilemma - When To Retire?

A Sportsman's Dilemma - When To Retire?

, 3 min reading time

Whether it is work or sport the question of retirement comes to us all (if we are lucky enough to live long enough). With work it is generally accepted to be late 60's but many people then go into a part time job, for extra income or just to remain active. Retirement in sport is a different dilemma though. When you are young you would probably play more active sports, which over time may put your body under huge pressure to remain fit. I recall a friend who played up front in football to Semi-Pro standard. Over the years as injuries took there toll and his natural pace declined, he moved further back down the pitch, until he retired from this standard of football as a full back. He then joined a local club to play for fun but, couldn't reclaim the enjoyment he previously had. With the matches being 7 days apart and he needing 8 days recovery he knew it was time to retire from playing football. It didn't mean he retired from sport though as he ventured into coaching and regained the passion once again. Imagine the cricketer who was once a valuable member of the side, contributing runs every week and athletic in the field too. Over the years the eyesight may not pick up the ball quite as quick as it once did. The runs start to dry up and are harder to come by, catches go down regularly and the game becomes less fun. This player then can drop down the teams and hopefully find a level he/she can play at, to again contribute weekly. Many cricketers continue to play into their 50's and beyond but there comes a time when the body refuses to bend and recover, when it was previously taken for granted it would. What then? Scoring, umpiring, coaching or committee positions are the natural progression but it doesn't replace the thrill of actually playing. If you love the thrill of playing sport, be-it team or individual play, retirement is hard to accept. Maybe the preferred option would be to walk away from the sport entirely and find another lest strenuous activity. It would be a shame though as many of these ex-players have so much they can give back to the sport as mentors to the younger generation or through a managerial role within the club. If however you want to continue playing sport you may find an alternative version of the sport you love. There are a growing number of sports adapting the game so it can also be played at walking pace. I know of local clubs that now do walking netball, walking football, walking cricket walking hockey...... the list is potentially endless and the amount of players going back to play in their 50's is really satisfying to hear. One Netball club in Newbury now has a waiting list for new members, as it has proven so popular. So, if you are thinking of retiring from playing sport, maybe this could be an option. It could be worth joining a walking club before you actually do fully retire. This way your body would still be in physical condition to carry on playing without the need to build up the fitness levels again.


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