When was the last time you did something that took you back in time so you re-lived something from your childhood?
After 25 years of not playing rugby, I recently joined a touch rugby group. Although my motive was mainly fitness, to my surprise I felt like a kid again and a whole world of memories started to flow within me.
Rugby is something very special to me. It was a very important part of my life from the age of five to 17. I used to play for my school and for a local rugby club, so trained four times and played two matches per week.
But there is much more to rugby than just training and playing.
I received emotional support from so many: generous parents would drive us to matches and support us as a team. Amazing coaches in different ways contributed to the person I am today. My grandfather was a rugby fan and every Sunday he brought to the family gathering the ‘test-match’ magazine. My nurturing parents comforted me every time I got hurt.
On a physical level, being outdoors and getting muddy was such a powerful experience. The direct contact with nature and its elements is unbeatable - even though, at the time I hated all those early winter mornings when the grass was still frozen. And there was nothing like the hot shower after a hard fought match!
Today, when I had to sprint to the goal I felt like my lungs where coming out of my mouth. It took me back to those years of training, when we pushed ourselves to the point that we felt we were dying from sprinting so much!
On a social level the best memories I have relate to the after match gatherings, where the locals hosted and provided food and drinks for the visitors. That was such a treat, especially because I could have things that I wouldn’t get at home like coca-cola and cakes.
I also remember all our tours to other cities and neighbouring countries. That was a whole experience as well as we would stay with a family from the opposite team. Together with my teammates I share a treasure trove of happy memories from those tours.
All these memories and feelings came up today in the two hours of the match, where once again I got muddy and could feel every muscle in my legs scream with pain. And still tonight I am overwhelmed with nostalgia for my childhood.
Thank you rugby. Thank you life. I feel like a child in an adult body.