Growing up during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, I seen many friends lives destroyed, and looking back now, I sometimes ask myself, why didn’t that happen to me? Well sport had a lot to do with it; in fact sport has brought so much to my life- friendships, health, travel, excitement, and lots of cherished memories. I’m just an ordinary guy from Armagh, but I was able to play football in Korea for a Bahrain football club!
I’ve had asthma since childhood, and it’s not fun having an asthma attack while swimming or whilst doing any sport. As a kid it can feel pretty demoralising when you’re not picked for the class team, or if you can’t participate at all because of a debilitating issue. But I found that there were always some sports that I could do. Even if my asthma was playing up I could race handmade go-karts, I could go fishing, there was always some sport I could do.
My son Laith is 2 years old, when he was only 5 weeks old, he caught a deadly infection called Group Strep B Meningitis https://gbss.org.uk/info-support/support/helpline thanks to the amazing ER & ICU doctors and staff at the Children’s Hospital in Dublin, he is one of the lucky ones to survive this horrible illness. But it has left him with Cerebral Palsy. He is a very happy boy and his walking, balance and motor skills are improving every week. What’s really helping him is sport; kicking a ball, throwing a ball, riding his balance bike, and bouncing on his trampoline.
So sport continues to change my world, maybe it will change yours too.
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination.” Nelson Mandela 2000.