Life is interesting.  There is nobody in this world that has an easy ride, in fact everybody at some time or another has had a real struggle. I have always found, the ones who take the opportunity to pick themselves back up and carry on, in general succeed. However those that expect other people to help pick themselves back up, often have missed the opportunity to achieve. When I go and do school talks I often base the talk around opportunities, as I believe it’s hugely important for younger people to understand about how to create opportunities for there selves.   Brilliant things happen to those that work hard for an opportunity, enjoy the experience that the opportunity creates, whilst also making sure the next opportunity has already been worked hard for and been created for whoever to enjoy. Never underestimate the power of keeping numerous doors open.

Since moving down South, there have been a lot of doors that have been opened. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to gain valuable coaching experience with Southampton Solent Sharks, I have made some fantastic friends that will be the backup I need for years to come and I have been lucky enough to have had the support of the High Performance Academy (HPA) throughout the first year of my university life. Headed by James Grant, the HPA enables national and international level athletes to get the support they need in their university life to achieve when it comes to their sporting commitments. It is a fantastic setup, from day one I was very impressed. No stone has been left unturned when it comes to supporting the athletes. Delivering a service that in my own opinion rivals EIS (English Institute of Sport). The first person I met was Kelly Jones the lifestyle support adviser. A brilliant person that goes that extra mile for her athletes, straight away she understood my needs and got on the case. Kelly made sure that being at university was as easy as possibly, even down to making sure I had a parking space at the university every day. As a lifestyle support adviser, Kelly is by far the best I have had and I highly recommend her. Strength and Conditioning (S&C) has also been a key factor within university and I have been fortunate enough to have had Thomas Berrington as my coach. Tom had done his research into Wheelchair Rugby and knew what to work on, it has been impressive the effect working with Tom has had on my overall game. He is always looking to push me to that nth degree which is vital when working with a top level athlete.  So that’s the HPA in short, there are lot’s of other different sectors within the HPA that I am yet to even make the most of, but I know they will be top class

Being a Northern lad living down South has had it’s ups and downs. One of these downs is the food and drink.  Southerners for the life of them cannot make a good mug of tea (apart from Vicky Phipps, although I am sure she is from Doncaster originally!?).  I have had what looks like dishwater, not enough of it in the mug and that incredible sin that is putting the milk in before the tea bag. I have also been surprised at the lack of knowledge shown about some of Britain’s best love meals. Corn Beef Hash, Scouse Stew, Fish Chips Mushy Peas AND Gravy, Lancashire Hotpot are all meals that I have been brought up on.  However they seem to have escaped the attention of my Southern friends.  Another downside to living down South is the weather. Although Southerners tend to have the better weather, somehow even the rain is better. The rain is ‘happy’ for some reason, I don’t particularly like ‘happy’ rain.  In my own opinion, if the weather decides to be miserable then let it be dark, wet and cold. However down South the rain is combined with a tiny bit of warmth too, it’s confusing for a Lancashire lad like I.

Although there are many downs to living South, there are also many perks too. The nightlife is less grubby, in fact it ooze’s elegance and sophistication. For example, if I was to go out into Blackpool town center for a night out, I knew that with a smart shirt, a nice pair of jeans and a good pair of shoes that I would be the best dressed bloke around.  Yet here I would be rivaled in how I looked, I have certainly had to up my game when it comes to my evening attire.  Another advantage to living down South is the politeness of people. Even though I love the Northern sort of brashness and honesty when it comes to chatting amongst your peer group, us Northerners can sometimes come across as being rude and arrogant (even when we are really not!). Living down South has helped me to realize that sometimes if you disagree with something, it is better just keep it to yourself. Having said that, I wouldn’t change any of my Northern friends for the world and being honest (perhaps too much sometimes) is a fantastic trait to have.

Finishing a blog is always difficult, I am never sure of how to round things off. So this time I thought about perhaps leaving you with a quote.  I wasn’t sure of which quote to choose however, although I did find a good one. Having done a bit of research into the person in questions background I found out the bloke married a fourteen year old at the age of forty-five!  So I wasn’t sure using his quote would be entirely appropriate. I then settled on a quote by a retired American Football coach called Lou Holtz. Having a fantastic record within American Football, I felt he would be worthy of making it into this weeks blog. Thank you ever so much for reading and I leave you with this:

“Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.”