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Striking a balance between sports and family life

Sunday, April 1, 2018
Shaun Fuentes

Striking a balance between work, life, and athletic goals is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a working athlete or an administrator in sport. It seems impossible to dedicate enough time to be successful at each of these aspects of your life and leave you feeling overwhelmed.

While it’s certainly not easy and will take a little sacrifice in some areas of your life, with proper prioritisation, planning, and communication it is possible to find balance and success as countless Athletes have shown over the years.

Work-Family Conflict within the profession of coaching has become a significant issue for coaches applying their trade at different levels of the sport industry. Results of recently performed research has demonstrated that individual characteristics including gender, relationship status, family status, primary athletic or coaching roles, athlete and coaching status, and hours worked per week play a prominent role in determining the level of well-being involved in sport similar to business or other professional fields.

Athletes, Coaches, Administrators and officials have many demands and expectations placed upon them in and out of season that often do not include consideration for personal life and family responsibilities. The expectations have changed in recent years to involve increased professional commitment to a level where excessive work hours are necessary in order to provide a competitive and successful programme. The effect this type of obsession promotes in increasing work-family conflict can have devastating results on personal and professional satisfaction.

In order to live a life of greater satisfaction, follow these three strategies for increased balance between work and life. Communicate, schedule and prioritise future goals with your significant other, both in your sporting and family life. Do this with colleagues also to better connect, understand and organise life; Establish professional boundaries between professional and private life. These include work hours, family events, personal life activities, personal health and of course pleasurable activities; Establish a relationship with a mentor that has been successful in creating harmony between work pursuits and life activities.

In my personal life and career, myself and many others of my colleagues have faced these challenges. I’ve been around in the football industry since 1997, first as a journalist and then as a Media Officer within an organisation and National Football Teams for over 15 years. I’ve seen and lived through the experience, from the absolute highs to the lows. Athletes and officials are constantly undergoing a process of finding the right balance. Some do it faster than others and some take time while others simply struggle to get there.

In a 2002 interview, world batting star Brian Lara said, "You hear life is not a dress rehearsal, you hear you got to live your life. Serenity in the fact that I'm alive, that I'm healthy, that I'm doing things to the best of my ability, that I have my family support. I got a life to live - and it comes back to the fact that the most important people or the most important thing is your family. Those are the ones you depend on, especially in your dark days. I got a lot calmer with myself, I sort of realised that you can't be as hard on yourself as I was."

Unfortunately, work-family conflict at some point will affect all athletic coaches. Having an increased understanding of the strategies to use to work towards success will allow for a professional and personal life with increased work-life harmony.

I've maintained that there's a constant need for us to be on top of our game both as athletes and support staff. We need to keep excelling and producing sporting heroes. These sporting heroes act as a replacement for war heroes in times of peace. We may not be in a war, but I am sure you agree with me that our country is not in its best state. A community's longing for heroes to cheer, motivate and unite them still continues in peacetime, and sport provides the chance for peacetime heroes to emerge. Sporting achievements provide hope, inspiration and a sense of national identity for a society. Let's Get the Right Balance!



Shaun Fuentes is a media trainer, coaching athletes how to present themselves before cameras and how to handle the microphone. He was a FIFA Media Officer at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and has travelled to over 75 countries to serve in sport as media operations manager.




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