Adele Richards is an amateur parent of two exceedingly fabulous little girls. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far away...
I love football. ‘The beautiful game’ they call it in England: that’s where I’m from. Football saved my life, and nothing you can say will ever take that away from me –my love of football. It means everything to me.
But I don’t go to football matches any more. I stopped going 3 years ago and I don’t miss it. I have a lot more free time at the weekend to spend with my family.
There’s nothing wrong with football itself – it’s FIFA I have an issue with. All the in-fighting, the egos, the corruption. It’s a disgrace. It’s not about football – it’s about power, money and political manoeuvring.
I used to be a professional footballer. I’ve been playing football since I was a kid. Rose up through the junior ranks till I made it to the Premier League. But man, those managers do your head in. You wouldn’t believe it from watching them on the side of the pitch, - or you might. But in the changing room, it’s a different story. Control freaks. Or complete idiots who don’t have a clue.
What was the best part? Apart from the beauty of the game itself…the best part was being part of a team. The camaraderie. Us together against the opponents – 11 men working together to get a ball in the back of the net. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But when you get to pro level –the other teams are tough. Real tough. You wouldn’t believe how fit you have to be to keep up.
People say footballers shouldn’t get paid – they should just do it for the love of it. But what they don’t see is how you have to sacrifice everything. When everyone else is kicking back at the weekend with a few beers and a pizza; you’re training. Hours and hours a day working on your fitness, practicing drills. It’s not a lot of fun. You don’t get Christmas off
Blood, sweat and tears – that’s what you put into it. And sometimes all you get at the end is a defeat and a rollicking from the boss. What really does your head in though, is when the other players on your team are complete…well… let’s just say they’re not always nice people.
I couldn’t stand my first manager – so I transferred to another team. But that guy was just as bad. Transferred again. Then I kept getting injuries. The physios gave me loads of exercises to do, to stop me getting injured again. But by then I was losing it. Losing the will to carry on.
Like I say, I love football. It’s my passion. But the commercial machine was starting to get to me. All that money poured into expensive stadiums. And for what? It just creates a spectator mentality anyway. Loads of people just standing around their whole lives watching a few people on the pitch play. All the entertainment and the pundits: they’ve just lost the heart of what football is about. It’s a business. A media circus.
What with all the injuries I ended up on the bench a lot. Watching from the sidelines, I really noticed all the in-fighting. I stopped playing. Then I stopped going to matches at all.
I can watch it on TV anyway, enjoy it in the comfort of my own home. Sometimes I get a bunch of mates round and we watch it together. That’s football, right there. The real deal. We take a ball out to the park on the weekend and have a kickabout. You don’t need pitches and stadiums and leagues and teams to love football.
Mind you, I do miss playing with a full team. Especially a team that’s making a real impact on a place. It’s crazy how a football team can turn a whole town around. Give people a reason to hope again, something to unite them in their love of football. I won’t lie: that’s pretty special.
And yeah I miss getting together with hundreds of other supporters – singing, chanting, letting all that passion loose. But is it real? Aren’t they’re just hyped up because of the event? They don’t sing like that in their own homes, do they?
I’m still a football fan. Wherever I go, whatever I do: I’ll always be a football fan.
I just don’t go to football matches any more.
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