Matt Thompson writes a beautifully powerful letter inviting us to consider what happens if we don’t make it. Matt is the Head of Talent Pathway For Welsh Cricket and a very good friend of Non-Perfect Dad.
I wish i had a letter like this to read when i was 16 or 17, when all that mattered was ‘Making it’ So this is for those aspiring young athletes who harbour strong (and realistic) hoped of forging a career in their chosen sport.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with following your dreams; with living those cliched statements like ‘have no regrets’, or ‘leave no stone upturned’ or ‘hard work is the key to everything’. Indeed, these statements do have a semblance of truth and play a key role in determining your path. But the most important parts to them are the bits they don’t say; the bits that say ‘life is about more than one dream’, and ‘don’t let your dream define who you are’.
After all the reality of you making it, which no doubt you’ve been told before, is pretty slim. I’ll show you, you promise to yourself stubbornly. But when the pressure is on, and you have that one tiny opportunity – the only one you might ever get – suddenly the reality hits you. This is everything I have worked towards; all those mates birthdays I missed because I was at practice, all those holidays I couldn’t go on, all those fitness test, all those nights of not eating what you really wanted to, even those boyfriends or girlfriends that fell by the wayside because they didn’t really get it.
For some people this focuses the mind, it channels you to perform even better. For the vast majority (or maybe just me who knows!), it adds to the pressure. It heightens the need to not make a mistake which usually results in one or multiple ones happening.
What’s the point of telling you this? Because had I known 15 years on from that moment that there was a whole other side to life that I had yet to discover and explore, it would have calmed and reassured me in that moment of pressure. It would have helped me realise that this isn’t the only dream I will ever have. It would have helped me accept that what will be, will be and whilst I can control some of my dreams, I can’t control all of them.
What is most important along your journey is being able to look yourself in the mirror and be content with yourself. Did you make it and yet sacrifice things that you wish you hadn’t? Is making it attached to how you perceive yourself? I’ll give you a clue – it shouldn’t. Much like growing up, chasing your dreams is a discovery of yourself. You might make it and find that buried treasure that people seldom find; or you might not find what you wanted, but you enjoyed the journey, the thrill the memories you picked up along the way.
So, enjoy the chase. Give it all you have, but remember – you’ll still be standing regardless afterwards one way or the other.
Someone that almost ‘made it’
Matt graduated from Cardiff Metropolitan University in 2010 with a first class degree in Sports Coaching, before working at the world class Millfield School, predominantly coaching Cricket and Football in addition to teaching Physical Education. In 2014 he returned to Cardiff Met to complete a PGCE in secondary Physical Education, whilst overseeing the University Cricket programme as Performance Director, and lecturing on the Performance Sport and Coaching Science pathways. After re-joining the cricket coaching staff at Millfield for a second time, he has now been based, for the last four years, at Glamorgan County Cricket Club’s Sophia Gardens as the Head of Talent Pathway for Cricket Wales, tasked with nurturing the country’s exciting young cricketers from a performance and athletic development perspective. Matt holds a PG Dip in Sports Coaching & Pedagogy, and is currently a of Trustee of Torquay Girls Grammar School in addition to sitting on the performance sub-committee for Welsh Athletics
Matt writes a blog which has had articles feature for UK Coaching, the ECB and a number of coaching websites. See link to read more: