Is Sport Only for the Time Rich?

I played rugby union throughout my teenage years and 20s and on the whole really enjoyed it. I love the physical challenge of rugby, working as a like-minded group to overcome challenges, pitting your wits against your opposite number and winning games was always a great bonus. But what happens when external and internal factors force you to re-prioritise your recreation time and you can no longer afford the time to play?

Family Priorities

I am a step-dad to a 13 year old girl and dad to two boys under 2, I commute 40 miles each way to my full time job Monday to Friday, my wife is a free-lancer who has to balance childcare with taking on work and therefore usually works at least one day on the weekend. I have just moved house and have a quickly growing jungle in the garden, rooms full to bursting with still unpacked boxes and scores of odd jobs that need doing. Where does sport fit into this?

I don’t think I appreciated this at the time, but I invested more than 20 hours a week in rugby and it’s peripheral activities! That’s almost a full day each week!

At the moment it is a struggle to grab an hour or two to do any kind of sport. I now live 10 minutes drive away from Brechfa Forest, one of Wales’ prime mountain bike trail hubs. In six months of living here I have managed one 2 hour ride! I have been for plenty of walks with the dog and my sons, but until the invent a kiddies protective bike trailer that can withstand the berms, table tops and drop-offs on the Gorlech trail I’ll have to stick to walking!

There is evidence to suggest that I am not the only one. Many people with young families are in exactly situation. One of the fastest growing sports in the UK is five-a-side football. Purpose built football centres such as Gôl in Cardiff are packed every night of the week with hundreds of punters playing games of 15 minutes each way.

Regular 5-a-side footballer, Dai John, noted;
I play five a side with a few mates in the Tuesday league. It’s great fun, competitive, well organised and a good sweat – I love it!

Purpose built 5-a-side centres are becoming more popular

Dai’s not the only one, I have played in a similar league and the fact that you were done and dusted in the hour was very appealing. It certainly beat going to the gym – working as a team trying your best to win a game forces you to put in far more effort than running on a treadmill will ever do.

When it comes to small versions of sports though, my personal favourite is Touch (Rugby). Closely related to both rugby codes, the game was developed in Australia in the 60s by a group of ex-rugby league players that wanted to keep fit and play competitive rugby into their 40s and 50s.

Touch can be played together by men and women

Roll on 50 years and the game has spread to over 40 countries and has it’s own World Cup showcase every 4 years. It is played by both men and women, often playing on the same team. The worldwide governing body is the Federation of International Touch (FIT) and in Wales, Wales Touch Association (WTA) is the NGB.

For me the beauty of the game is that it is very fast (lung-bustingly so!), skill-full, competitive and has very few player injuries associated with it (therefore a small risk of missing work).  As opposed to rugby, I directly contribute to the game with ball possession for far longer and I don’t have to roll about wrestling fat blokes in the mud!  Bonus!

Perhaps playing the full versions of sports is only for the time rich, but a new generation of adapted games is helping those with that competitive bug to continue to play their chosen game, even if time is at a premium.

Do you have a similar experience to share? Add comments below

Other versions of popular sports:

20/20 Cricket, Rugby 7s, 5-a-side football, beach volleyball


Gadael Ymateb

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