Monica Sharma – One Passionate Football Player

We are kicking off 2014 in style and it gives us great pleasure to feature the first post of this new year, from Chesham United Ladies FC player Monica Sharma.……a passion from the start

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Being brought up in Hounslow by humble grandparents and a supporting family, allowed me to develop an unconditional love and passion for the game of Football. Many footballers start their development at very early ages, however mine started from a somewhat late age of 12 years. I was very much influenced by my dad and uncles who played for a local team, J&S Hounslow, now currently Indian Gymkhana FC. The players and all those associated with the club became family and still are. Watching every game on weekends, come rain, snow or sun to then talking about it afterwards became a huge part of my weekly routine. I’m sure for many people this does not coincide with the norm of what a young Punjabi girl should be doing at my age, but that didn’t stop my family from sharing their own experiences with me.

 

……pushing the passion to the next level

The beginning of secondary school is where I really started progressing my passion for the game and made the decision of taking up football as a long-term commitment. Even thinking about it now, I am truly grateful to my PE teachers who put so much time and effort in me. I was trialing with Chelsea FC at 13 years of age, but lacked the experience and physicality, which was why I played for Middlesex County Girls to turn these weaknesses into strengths. I always believed in my ability but that’s not good enough, I needed someone else to believe in my potential too. It was then that I came across a coach at Brentford Ladies FC who weaned me in, and eventually becoming the youngest player at 16 years of age to be training with the first team.

Football has always been a passionate hobby, but education is still a priority of mine. I was able to go to University and complete a Science degree and at the same time play football with other like-minded quality players. I was training and competing alongside national level players which was exactly what I needed at this point, helping me progress into a player I am today.

During my last year of university I needed to decide where I wanted to take my football from here. I had a trial with QPR Ladies lined up and a Euro Championships tournament in Turkey to be looking forward to. Unfortunately, injuries got the best of me and it couldn’t have come at a worst time. I sustained a complete ACL rupture which pushed me back considerably for two years. Not being able to do what you love took its toll emotionally and I had to re-consider either starting again or packing football in and focusing on my career. Looking back, in a way this injury was a blessing in disguise. It allowed me to take some time out of football and focus on pursuing another dream of mine, of becoming a Sports Physiotherapist (which I am still working towards).  However, I couldn’t have left football forever.

……if at first you don’t succeed, try again!

Last summer is when I thought I’d give it one last push. Being slightly ambitious in my approach I went along to trial for QPR Ladies, Tottenham Hotspurs  Ladies and Chesham United Ladies FC. Again, I had to decide whether I wanted to play for a name, or develop as a player and play matches consistently, which was why I decided to sign up for Chesham United Ladies FC as a defender. Never had I thought I would be receiving the best of both worlds, playing in the FA Women’s Premier League and still pursuing my career and training as a Physiotherapist.

It requires a lot of hard work and determination, which isn’t easy but it’s definitely worth it. Currently, I have no intentions of giving up football as long as my knees and ankles stay intact. And who knows, maybe one day this small town Punjabi girl will achieve her dreams.

 We would like to Thank Monica Sharma for sharing her experience with us and wish her all the best for the rest of the season.

Follow Monica Sharma on Twitter

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My sporting journey – the passenger’s perspective!

This weekend one of our Future Champions ISHA Chhatwal won the Gillingham Golf tournament against a large number of entrants.  ISHA’s dad and co-founder of BASTF gives us an insight into how he has helped his daughter, a wonderful upcoming talented golfer, develop and flourish.

It has not been like the M25 – long and boring, but more akin to a stretch on the GT road into the Punjab – never straightforward, lots of dips and bumps, but extremely rewarding sights along the way as the journey unfolds.

From the onset my daughter demonstrated a very mature and calm personality. She had natural hand eye coordination and upper body strength – some of the essential instruments for many sports but especially the game of golf.

She excelled at many school sports such as netball and rounders, but it was my biased influence on Isha that steered her towards golf. I knew my passion for a particular sport would ease the burden of early starts and a dwindling bank balance! No offence but I couldn’t see myself getting up in the early hours of the morning to prepare for a ballet competition!

Even with this passion the journey has been arduous. The regimented schedule, daily golf lessons with some upto 2 1/2 hours away and the onus on the parents to set an example i.e losing weight and keeping fit! How can you preach to others if you don’t practise them yourself! But with specified and realistic goals being attained it has all been worth it.

Normally the only Indian child, let alone Indian girl, partaking in the competition, things can be intimidating and often brings attention amongst the existing members! However, I have always instilled in my children that sport is the platform to showcase your talents and breakdown age-old barriers and stereotypes. This philosophy has come true on so many occasions, with other golfers making the effort to congratulate her on an amazing shot or a tournament victory and often a bit of friendly banter at the bar afterwards with a drink bought by them!

I have enjoyed the trips made to tournaments and practice sessions as it has allowed me to spend quality time with the kids, talking and discussing everything golf. Visiting different clubs, learning the etiquettes of the game and be members of a local club has given them self-confidence and opportunities to converse with a variety of people of differing ages.

But it has all come at a price – it’s been very expensive. But then I ask the question – in real terms has it been? Well, you do the maths.

Keeping your children occupied in an activity that challenges them physically as well as mentally as opposed to sitting in front of the television or playing electronic games.

Socialising with like-minded people in a competitive environment as opposed to playing on the streets, unsupervised and prone to a multitude of sins.

Spending quality time and getting to really know your kids – amazing memories, funny moments, some lows but ultimately the best high you can get!

Huge Thanks to Davinder for sharing his thoughts on his journey so far.