Ali sends another ball hurtling to the boundary, bringing up the double century. He removes his helmet, raises his bat and the adoring crowd goes wild….
That was how it was supposed to go. Plucked from schoolboy obscurity, my innate cricketing talent would propel me through the professional ranks to international stardom, global recognition and somewhere in amongst all that, a knighthood. I was all set to become a legendary cricketing hero.
Of course, that didn’t happen. Just like it doesn’t for the 99.9% of kids who have ambitions to hit the upper echelons of their chosen sport. This highlights the need to have a back-up plan, you know, just in case celebrity status doesn’t come knocking. Except, not only did I not have a back up plan, but my studies were a complete mess.
I flunked my GCSEs with some aplomb, and scraped by with resits. It was only due to a particular tutor, who was the most inspirational adult I’d met at that point in my life, that my trajectory began to improve. Fast forward and several years later I emerged from Cambridge University with a PhD in Physics.
I got lucky. Unfortunately, most do not. All consuming passion for an endeavour can be a wonderful thing, just not always when the odds are stacked heavily against us. It’s at this point we need older and potentially wiser individuals, to offer a guiding hand as to what might be acceptable second choices, should the first and all-consuming passion cough, splutter and expire on the altar of ‘nearly’.
I was reminded of this when reading an article that showed that only 0.012% of those who try make it to premiership football clubs.
“It is estimated that of the 1.3 million players who are playing organised youth football in England at any one time, around 180 – or 0.012% – will make it as a Premier League professional.
More than three-quarters of academy players are dropped between the ages of 13 and 16.”
(You can see the full article here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/65399672)
1.5M children dropped after not making the grade, with the majority having nothing to fall back on. There’s a reason these passions are referred to as all-consuming afterall.
It isn’t that life is impossible without academic attainment to fall back on. It’s simply an order of magnitude harder that it needs to be. Afterall, life isn’t exactly a bed of roses for many new graduates, especially those with less sought after degrees.
So, what’s my point?
My point is to keep one foot on the ground. Go as far as your talent and/or hardwork will take you, just keep an eye on what may be an alternate future.
If you find yourself with a child who’s behind the curve ahead of the exams, get in touch (email here) as I may be able to help. Money shouldn’t be an issue with my pay what you can afford classes (really, pay what you want/can afford, there is not catch) and you may be surprised at how much can be achieved with new-found focus.