The Brentford team’s short winter break in Dubai seems to have created a split amongst Brentford fans. The messageboards are awash with people supporting the move to get some warm weather training, team bonding, R&R or whatever it is they are there for, while others can’t believe that a team of professionals need to be pampered either for doing their job or because they are knackered from working 90 minutes, sometimes up to twice a week!
Which got me thinking. How hard is it being a professional footballer?
Even in our division whenever you play there are literally thousands of people watching your every move critically. Every other game 80% of those are willing you to mess up so they can laugh like drains at your expense. They will also happily hurl dog’s abuse at you at every opportunity. Your own fan’s will do exactly the same if you misplace a pass, even if it is the first one you have misplaced in four games.
Then there is the opposition, eleven players on the field who are intent on stopping you doing want you want. They will kick you, push you, get in your way, abuse you and worst of all the cheeky buggers will try and score against you. They will do everything in their power to make you fail so your fans will abuse you.
Then there is that feller who runs around the pitch with a different colour kit from everyone else. Who is he? He’s always letting people kick you and keeps stopping you from kicking them, that’s not fair, how are you meant to deal with the unfairness – if you get angry he sends you off!
Then there are your own team mates. Yes the ones playing alongside you are nominally on your side but if you do anything that hampers their game they will stand there and shout at you in front of everyone – or do that thing where they push out their hands and look disappointed.
Then there are those snidey ones on the bench, just willing you to mess up so you get subbed or dropped. Then the fear steps in, what if you are dropped and end up in the reserves then let go at the end of the season. What happens then? Scrabble around for a club one or two divisions below with a commensurate drop in salary, become a postman – yeah, like there are any jobs out there for a failed footballer, for anyone in fact.
Now this professional that is swanning off to Dubai might just be 20 years old, has left his family home up north for the first time just last summer, he’s in his first ever season in the first team, has played pretty much every game, has been one of the team’s star players and with all the above, and the training and the travelling is not quite at the very peak he was after a summer break, pre-season training and a handful of games to get match fit that he was in September.
The levels of performance that are required to consistently achieve, week-in, week-out are high and anything that can help keep those performance levels up must be a good thing.
I know I have bad days at work, when I’m not concentrating, knackered or whatever. A bit of a rest, a change of scenery, a chat with my work mates to sort out what we are going to do and get excited about the possibilities again can do no harm.