It’s crazy to think that it was only 9 months ago that I heard about the TDFC project. Via the community, I’ve met some really top people and represented the UK at DiaEuro 2018. An amazing journey so far, but what does the year ahead look like?
I’d already bought into the vision of TDFC before participating for the UK team at DiaEuro in Bratislava this summer. However, as a type 1 diabetic for 7 years now, I was stunned with how much more I learnt about the condition during the course of the tournament. I didn’t even have to try. Diabetes related chitchat would pop up naturally all the time. I gained loads of great insight on how to manage the condition whilst playing sport and life in general. My control was the best it had been in years too, and that seemed the case for multiple players.
The whole experience got us thinking – the platform for diabetics with a passion for playing football to meet up and learn from each other really does need expanding. It could bring so much good for diabetics new and old. Our experience was proof of it!
On the final day of DiaEuro 2018, whilst watching Bosnia cruise to victory in the final, we found out something very interesting. We learnt that the Bosnian team compete on a weekly basis in the 2nd division of the Bosnian Futsal League. That’s mega impressive: an entire team of diabetics playing (and winning) against high level non-diabetic team’s week in week out. This didn’t just give them the edge to win DiaEuro, it’s allowed them to raise the profile of diabetes and help to break down any perceived barriers to participation, a key goal of TDFC.
Post DiaEuro, with a strong desire to help TDFC grow and see the UK team improve at the next DiaEuro tournament, we decided to develop a new project – to set up the first all diabetic futsal/football team to compete in the English futsal/football pyramid.
Futsal/Football? Futsal (to begin with)
Club name? TDFC London
Over the past few months, we’ve laid down the foundations to get the project underway. Some great conversations with the London Futsal League, in combination with an opening for new teams to join the new season in February 2019, means we’re only weeks away from launching!
If you are at all interested in joining TDFC London, whether it be as a player, coach, sponsor or supporter (the more fans the better), contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how to get involved.
Hopefully this is just the start of things to come. It would be amazing to one day see the platform expand to provide opportunities for men and women of all ages, all over the country.
On the most important day in the Diabetes Calendar we wanted to reach out to the community and ask them to share their messages for World Diabetes Day 2018.
Much of our work is about inspiring our community into believing that this chronic medical condition won’t hold you back in your football, and in your life more generally, so this video is all of those things rolled into 5 minutes!
No matter the age, the gender, the ethnicity, your fitness or your wealth, Diabetes doesn’t discriminate against who it affects but its important we stand together and show this condition it won’t stand in our way.
Please help us share our video and message to help others who may be finding Diabetes tough this World Diabetes Day!
Well here we are!!! It’s 3 days until we play our first match and after months of talking about this momentous project, it’s happening this weekend. The UK will be represented at the European Futsal Championships for people with Diabetes, for the very first time ( DiaEuro 2018 , www.diaeuro.org ).
I wake up every day feeling privileged to have started The Diabetes Football Community and to be leading projects like this…. They make all the difference to the people who interact with us and seek us out for support. I hope that our endeavours continue to provide comfort, inspiration and a smile for all those who share in the challenges of Diabetes on a daily basis… We want to prove that this condition holds no boundaries for those living with it as long as we achieve good management. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but it’s important we attempt to provide positive news stories for those with the condition when much negativity, ignorance and stereotyping is still evident throughout the media and society in the United Kingdom.
With so much going on I’ve found it very challenging to write anything on the blog for a while so it’s nice to find just an hour to share some thoughts ahead of DiaEuro and talk about our camp on the 14th of July.
The day was all about bringing the squad together to get to know each other, enhance their tactical and technical understanding of Futsal and ultimately play their first ever game as a squad. For me, all of those things were achieved and more. The team really did surpass all of our expectations as a management team and with expectations for us at DiaEuro low, I’ll be encouraging the boys to just go and give a good account of ourselves, with a smile on our faces. The tournament isn’t all about winning (try telling our squad that!), because it’s also about raising awareness of type 1 diabetes, its challenges and trying to develop greater levels of support across Europe for those living with it. As a collective we can’t wait to participate in this wonderful event and win, lose or draw it’s an incredible opportunity for all of us to represent our condition firstly and our nation secondly at this tournament.
We’d set out a jam packed day where the guys needed to arrive at the university of Worcester at 8:45am (Sorry lads!) as we wanted to spend the morning developing their tactical knowledge before implementing it in our friendly in the afternoon. Myself and Paul had come up with a plan on Friday for delivery and having seen how the team performed in the friendly we were absolutely chuffed that they’d taken on the knowledge we’d shared with them as that’s all you want from a coach’s perspective!
Alongside the hectic morning of coaching, Harley and Jahna were also busy planning their sessions for our lunch time break. Harley wanted to deliver a session specifically aimed at team cohesion and bringing the squad closer together ahead of the European championships, whilst Jahna wanted to capture some more in depth information from a medical perspective about the squad. This gave the lads an opportunity to catch a break!! They also got the chance to come and collect their matchday kit and tracksuits from me!! I think this was one of the parts they were most excited about having had a preview over social media… I think the kit looks great and thank you to www.movingforwardsports.co.uk for supplying us with it.
After all that we were lucky enough to get into our first match, which was a resounding success and we came away with such positivity! A massive thank you to our opponents, Duncan our referee and the university of Worcester for hosting this momentous occasion for us…
Now we move onto Saturday the 21st of July 2018… The day it all begins. The journey and the tournament await and we’re soooo excited.
My hope is that this team inspires people across the UK whom may be newly diagnosed or finding life with type 1 diabetes tough to think it is possible, the condition doesn’t have to stand in your way and that no matter what barrier it puts in front of us we can overcome it!
11 men all living with Type 1 Diabetes, pulling on a shirt to represent a condition and a country……. To know we’ve set about bringing that to life fills me with so much pride I find it hard to explain.
As it’s the end of #DiabetesWeek I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share a blog about the completion of my 2017/18 season… A season of complete contrasts!
July 2017… As pre – season begins for most players and clubs involved in Football, I was in a plaster cast contemplating how this had all played out. Two 5th metatarsal fractures in 6 months and an operation later and I was staring down another 2 months until I could walk again, let alone run! The worst injury I’d experienced in my sporting career.
But anyone who knows me well, knows I don’t give up in the face of a challenge… This was a hard one but I was up for it!
The season was well underway by the time I could walk again on the 1st of September but after months of crutching around the local gym and using a handbike to do cardio, I was just so pleased to be back on 2 feet again. The key with injuries like this I’ve found is to celebrate the small wins as you progress towards your old self again… If you don’t give yourself the recognition of improvement it’s going to be a really hard mental and physical battle!
It wasn’t long after walking again that I was given the all clear to do some light jogging, which was a huge step in my mind, as I put some serious stress on the bone for the first time since the op. With any injury that keeps you out for this period of time the deterioration in muscle strength in your whole leg is a massive problem to also overcome as well as the concern for the injury itself. I had a LOT of rehabilitation work to do but as I was accepted onto the Sports Scholarship scheme at the University of Worcester (www.worc.ac.uk) I knew I was going to have access to great facilities and people to support me on this journey back.
After 5 – 6 weeks of strength and conditioning, constant physiotherapy and some Futsal training sessions with the university futsal club, things looked to be progressing nicely in October. I was getting used to my team mates, new surroundings at the university and the demands of the sport on my body again. I enjoyed it but things were painful… I spent a lot of the first 2/3 months in pain playing as my foot was weak and the muscles supporting it weren’t much stronger!
The first game back was towards the end of October, and when I say game, I mean 2 minutes on court just to see how things felt!! That’s the beauty of Futsal, you can roll on and roll off quickly with substitutions… It felt alright but I think it was a false sense of reality as I was still a long way off at this stage! There’s a lot of fear when you’re coming back after a torrid time which is hard to explain, naturally the body just tries to protect it so you move in a way which is not efficient or conducive of high performance. It took a good 2/3 months to get over this and I’d argue I’m still not fully there!!!
As things progressed and improved, I returned to my first national team Futsal camp in November 2018, almost a year after breaking my foot on international duty. It was a great moment for me to see the lads again after spending so much time on the sidelines… I knew it was a tough ask to compete with the boys and their levels having only been able to run for just over a month and still playing in pain. Despite this I felt I gave a good account of myself but ultimately I didn’t have the fitness and games in the tank to really challenge for a place in the Wales Home Nations squad in 2017 as I narrowly missed out. Tough to take but understandable.
But whilst the Wales boys were playing in Edinburgh, I had the opportunity to attend the England Universities Trials in London. Another great opportunity to push myself against good players and towards my ultimate goal of full fitness and playing at the levels I knew I could achieve. It was a hard session considering where I was at in terms of fitness but I was really glad I did it. It ultimately led to selection in the squad later that month which was great! The management of my glucose levels and getting them right for games/occasions was now starting to become important again as I was more involved whilst playing more and more game time. You’d think the old ways would work?! A year after the last time I played sport at that level and my body certainly didn’t play ball!! My levels were shooting up to levels I’d not seen at a Futsal game before and crashing more dramatically than I remembered. I think there’s a certain amount of trial and error in everything we do as Type 1’s but it’s about reducing the number of errors we make that will allow us to enjoy our sport. For a good couple of months I made plenty!
As the festive season approached I also took the decision to get back to playing Football. I’d missed it and it was time to use the sport to help me get fit in December and January as the Futsal season tends to go quiet at that time. My old manager Quentin Townsend had inquired about my fitness a month or two earlier and I’d put it off to ensure my body was in a good enough place to cope with Football when I finally said yes! I signed for Pershore Town FC and played my first football match in 20 months on 19th December 2017 in a friendly vs Worcester City FC.
Before I knew it I’d played in 3 games in a week and it was like I hadn’t been away! There’s nothing like being thrown in at the deep end but I was just pleased to get back out there again. I’ve got to say a big thanks to the lads who made it so easy for me to fit into the squad half way through the season and enjoy the second half of it. If I’m honest the transition with my Diabetes back into Football was much easier than with Futsal… Because I’ve played Football for a lot longer it feels a little more natural in terms of the routine I go through to manage type 1, so there was only really 1 and a half games from the 16 appearances I made where I’d say things weren’t quite right!
I spent a lot of time learning about how to manage my diabetes around sport again… 12 months away is a long time and plenty of things change during that time.
But as I moved into 2018 things were looking really promising following the call up to the England Universities squad and with regular weekly game time. This was huge! I was playing a 90 minute game on a Saturday and then playing Futsal on a Sunday for about 4/5 weeks on the bounce and after that I was flying into the business end of the season.
My season was all about pushing myself in Futsal and enjoying the game time in football. I wanted to come out of the season with some silverware with the university team with both the league and cup in our grasp. As we negotiated our semi final with a really tight 9-8 win vs a well drilled Loughborough 2’s team, I had a cup final to prepare for as well as a north vs south challenge cup as part of the England Universities squad.
Unfortunately we were unable to chase down the league title after a couple of disappointing results which meant we finished up as runners up in our division but we still had the cup to play for.
To go from that cup final and into the North vs South challenge cup just a couple of weeks later was absolutely class and well timed… I could feel I was on a roll and feeling good, so for me it was great to see the good form continue as I ended up as the top goal scorer in the tournament and with a Team South win 9-3 across the two games (6-2 & 3-1). I was finally able to show my ability as a result of the body being closer to a state which could showcase it! After this tournament and a couple of good results with Pershore, I pretty much knew the only meaningful game left in my season was the annual varsity ding dong derby between the University of Worcester and the University of Gloucestershire.
Varsity is a big deal for the students at the university you represent and winning the game you’re involved in is all that matters in the month of April! Luckily for us we entered the game in good form and were really confident that if our big players turned up we’d win the game… So it turned out to be the case. We ran out 8-3 winners and the team played a really good game in which we controlled it from the start to finish. It was a cracking way to finish the season off and undoubtedly contributed to the way we were rewarded at the end of season awards night…
The University 1st team were given the “Team of the Year” award for our cup and league exploits, whilst my individual contribution to those performances and my representation of the university with the England universities squad led to me being awarded “Male Athlete of the Year”. An award I didn’t feel worthy enough of winning but one I was extremely grateful and very lucky and proud to have received! When last year’s winner was an Olympian and former commonwealth champion Matt Hudson-Smith (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_Hudson-Smith), you can see why I didn’t feel like I wasn’t worthy of this level of recognition haha! Incredible all the same though…
I honestly couldn’t be prouder to have ticked all of that off this season, despite not actually being 100% at any point. The key was that after all that time away from the sport I found my love for it again, the smile on my face was back when I played and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed playing like I did in 2017/18, since I was a kid. Sometimes the adversity can set you up for what’s next and I think the injury taught me a lot about fun and enjoyment that maybe I was missing beforehand!
I think this line sums up the approach I’ve taken over the last season and one in which I’ll try to continue for the rest of my playing career:
“Train like it’s the most important thing in the world, play like you couldn’t care less!”
However, one thing that I wanted to finish on surrounding Diabetes… After 12 months of being injured and focussing on my Diabetes more and more my Hba1c was 50 but as I returned to playing it went back up to 64… A really challenging question is…. What’s more important? I was called up to the England Universities squad, scored 5 goals in a cup final winning performance, won varsity and I won male athlete of the year at my university, yet my Diabetes control was worse. There’s no doubt my sport, the demands on my body and the responses my glucose levels have to exercise complicate overall control of the condition as my intensities of exercise differ so drastically!
I’d love to have some feedback on this… Because I honestly don’t know the answer but my choices have always involved enjoying life experiences over prioritising perfect Diabetic control but I’d love to hear what you think…
Finally I’d just like to thank a number of people who’ve supported me hugely throughout this season, my family for your continued support, to Dan Allen (https://www.instagram.com/da_training_and_performance/), Jamie Harrison and Marc Scriven for their strength and conditioning support, to Sally Smith and Lewis Miller for putting me back together each week with their sports therapy support, to the University for their providing great facility access and lastly to my teammates and coaches who’ve made me feel welcome and whom have played well so often this season! We win and lose as a team….
All in all a progressive season after one of the hardest periods of my sporting career with so much to look forward to in the 2018/19 season!
Hi guys, just thought I’d write a blog post reflecting on my experience at the #SporT1Day conference that happened on the 13th May. The conference gave the chance for several speakers including myself, to cover a range of topics that impact type 1 diabetes. I wanted to write this post to share my opinions about the day whilst I also wanted to give a little summary of my talk for those who missed it.
So my thoughts on the day…. I think Chris and Paul Coker did a great job at making sure the day ran smoothly. There were a couple of hurdles to jump over such as the fire alarm going off during Paul’s talk. Despite a couple of things like this happening Chris and Paul managed to keep the day running nicely. One thing that really stood out to me was the variety of speakers at the conference. The speakers included professional athletes, women, diabetic nurses and people who had lived with the condition for over 60 years. It was great to see such a diverse line up which resulted in a wide range of experiences being shared. The take home message for me was that type 1 management is very much an individual thing. Therefore, it’s important to find out what works for you. This requires you to experiment and constantly keep learning what works and what doesn’t. The other great result of such a diverse line up was the breadth of topics covered. As there were so many different topics I think everyone could come away with something they found interesting. Topics ranged from management tips, to nutrition, psychology and some stories of inspiration. It’s a real credit to Chris and Paul for being able to put together such a great line up. The last thing I’ll say about the speakers is that hearing their stories has been invaluable to me. As someone who does not have type 1 diabetes I am constantly working hard to understand what people go through as best I can. So learning more about the condition from other personal experiences of type 1 is really important. I can’t thank people enough for sharing their stories with me.
The previous point leads nicely into my own talk. I’m not going to recap it all here but I will write a post in the future that gives you guys some more detail. So, the main points of my talk. Diabetes has been viewed for the longest time as a medical condition; which of course it is. However, from the perspective of someone that lives with the condition it’s much more. It’s a 24/7 job that you didn’t ask for but have to do. It’s a condition that requires you to make constant decisions. As a result, how you think and feel impact how you manage the condition. This being the case, what you put in your head is as important as what you put in your body. However, psychology support is an underused resource for people with type 1 and I’m really passionate about changing that. The psychological load of managing type 1 daily and during sport or exercise is heavy and psychological skills training can help you cope with the load. As I’m conscious about making this an overly long read I’ll expand on this in my next psych series. Before I finish, I’d like to briefly mention the main part of my talk which was self-compassion. In a nutshell self-compassion is the ability to treat yourself like you would treat a loved one. When they experience difficulties, do you criticize them? Do you constantly remind them how rubbish they are? Or do you try and understand that this is a difficult time for them? Do you try your best to help them move past the difficulty? My take home message to the people in the audience was that Type 1 is a rollercoaster ride full of ups and downs. When you experience tough times, try and treat yourself with the compassion you would treat a loved one. If you wouldn’t say it to a close friend, don’t say it to yourself.
The first word that springs to my mind after my most recent experience is…… WOW. (Videos & Images courtesy of my Instagram profile: brighty08)
Opportunities to play in cup finals are special. They’re a culmination of a season’s worth of hard work, good performances and often quite a bit of luck. You have to appreciate and enjoy them, because as I know, it can be years until you play again in the next one, or you may never get the chance again! That only dawned on me after this one though…… If it is the last one, at least it was one to remember!!!
For the purpose of this post, I’m going to try and encompass everything about preparing for a Cup Final weekend from my experience living with Type 1 Diabetes. These moments matter and hopefully after a good performance in this most recent match, I can give a bit of insight about what it was like, how I prepared and the reactions to hiccups which allowed me to still get out there and enjoy the experience.
So for me it started on Friday night ( the cup final was 3pm on Sunday!) when the squad met up for Training as we do every week. This session was a little different though; the team had suffered a shock defeat a couple of days beforehand and we were keen to feel more prepared leading into the final. So we spent a good half an hour discussing preparations before doing a session that focussed on breaking down our opposition’s tactics. We knew how they played having beaten them at their venue in the league just 2 weeks before (8-6 to Worcester). It was a good session that we all wished we’d spent a bit longer on but we felt positive we could get the job done. I was slightly concerned my hamstring was tweaking but I got in and sat in an ice bath, sorted the glucose levels out (which were pretty good!) and went to bed feeling positive about the weekend.
Saturday comes around and inadvertently I managed to keep my thoughts around the final to a minimum all day. In typical male style, I’d left the purchase of my Mother’s day gifts until the last minute so I spent the morning getting those! I was with Alex (our TDFC sports psychology guru) grabbing lunch and consciously aware the final was coming up but the only reference I was making to it was ensuring I ate plenty of carbs and tried to stay in safe blood glucose ranges throughout the day. I spent the evening just chilling out with my mates, with my mind away from the game, having a laugh. It kept me relaxed and stress free. Something Alex keeps telling me is important to get the best from myself.
However…. I made a major mistake on Saturday. In my attempts to “Carb Up” I ate pretty late that evening and I messed up the carb counting…. This led to a middle of the night Hyperglycaemia (21mmols), requiring an injection and a disruption to my sleep! Definitely not the best preparation but if we had it all our own way it wouldn’t be so rewarding to achieve the things we do as Diabetics!
Sunday… Game day! I started off a bit later than usual following the sleep disruption. A period of stretching the muscles and foam rolling out the niggles started the day before a reasonably sized brunch. In the car on the way to the game was the first time I really started to think about the next few hours. I could feel the normal feelings associated with big games building up; the excitement, the nerves, the anticipation and general buzz of an occasion.
For me letting those feelings come into play on the way to the game was the best time for them. You have to let them do their thing but knowing how I tick, I also needed to remain calm. If I allow myself to pile pressure on my performance, I play a bit too quick and the anxiety can drive my glucose levels up, which again affects the output. I like to remind myself I’m here to enjoy it and play the game for fun. If you don’t enjoy it, why do you do it? It also keeps the glucose levels more predictable… The mind has a huge impact on the body!
Upon arrival and with the hamstring not feeling too clever, I was stretched out and massaged in the changing room before we went out onto the court. My glucose levels were looking good and as we left the changing room you could feel the buzz around the team, as for some it was the biggest game they’d played in! We rolled out into the venue and as we started the warm up you could see the focus and intensity was there, which is always a good sign early on! I was feeling sharp (apart from the hamstring tweak) as we started moving the ball around on court and the warm up went by with a smile on my face and a growing sense of excitement for the game to begin… I’m not sure whether this excitement masked what happened next though!!
Just as we started to get our shinpads and our match shirts on our back, I started to feel something wasn’t quite right. I was due to check my blood glucose levels anyway but now I was worried! Sure enough 2 minutes from Kick Off and I was 3.4 mmols… NIGHTMARE! All the prep and the consistency in my routine I tried to implement had seemingly not worked and as Diabetics we almost expect to have to overcome moments like these… In my typical style, I downed half a bottle of lucozade sport, threw my match shirt on and lined up to start the game. Almost every healthcare professional who works in Diabetes would’ve advised me not to play/start at this glucose level but knowing my body and reaction to Futsal I made the decision to carry on.
As the whistle blew to kick off, I wasn’t thinking about anything. I just wanted to react to what was going on around me and play the game as I saw it. Futsal is played at such pace I don’t think there’s much time for anything else anyway! Our starting 4 began the game with a lot of composure on the ball and making some chances. It was always going to be a tight start to the game playing against a team who were the biggest challenge in our league and in the first few minutes it looked like the game was going to pan out that way. A couple of minutes in I was lucky enough to see the ball drop at my feet with a chance to break forward, I took it, beat a couple of players and nutmegged the keeper to make it 1-0 (GOAL BELOW). A great start to the game for us and on a personal note it gave me a lot of confidence to continue effecting the game and getting myself on the ball. After my first 5 minute stint on court the score was 1-1 after we’d conceded a soft goal. Nonetheless a solid start!
I then witnessed 5 minutes where it didn’t go well at all for us. We conceded a number of soft goals and we’d lost our organisation… This summed up much of the rest of the first half until the final few minutes but the damage was done. We were 5-1 down at half time. That kind of score isn’t quite as dramatic as it would be playing Football, but it did give us a very big mountain to climb in the second half. I was feeling pretty good out on court but there was no doubt I was concerned we had a little bit too much to do to get back into it! The glucose levels had recovered and now sat at 8.4mmols going into the second half so I didn’t make any adjustments over the half time break.
So with a big task on our hands, the boys kicked off the second half. We started it well, with plenty of possession and we drew a number of fouls (6 fouls wins you a 10 metre penalty). This made it very interesting as the half progressed but without making too many chances we knew the next goal was crucial… Fortunately we got it! Sam got a poachers effort under the keeper’s nose and it was game on. Following the first 10 minutes of the half playing with the same 4 players and the goal to make it 5-2, we threw some fresh faces into the action to chase down the deficit, of which I was one. Coming back on I knew that we were one foul short of a penalty and the momentum was very much in our favour. Sure enough the persistence told! 5-3 via a 10 metre penalty from Vytas. Now we could sense the tide was turning…. With 5/6 minutes left on the clock I picked up the ball, slowed the play down, created half a yard and took the shot on, 5-4 (GOAL BELOW). The belief was growing but time was running out. We kept plugging away with chances but was the comeback all in vain? As the clock ticked down towards 1 minute, I picked the ball up for a kick in and played a firm pass across the court to Ally deep inside their half, he took a touch and dispatched the ball through a crowd of players into the bottom corner. Queue mass celebration! We’d come back to level the final with barely any time left on the clock but the job wasn’t complete… I noticed their team dropped their heads at this point as they were trying to hold out for the result. The momentum was with us and as the full time buzzer went we were full of confidence that we’d go onto complete the comeback in extra time!
The turnaround for extra time was fast and I felt good so I didn’t check my glucose levels. I was happy to just keep going… Despite the flow of the game with us, Warwick took the kick off and immediately scored to make it 6-5. Surely we couldn’t throw away all of the hard work now?
NOT TODAY! From a kick in Vytas set me back for a strike which I hit hard towards the back post and via a small deflection it ended up going in (GOAL BELOW!). 6-6 and we went into the half time interval in extra time knowing we still had every chance of completing the crazy comeback! At this point I was desperate for us to get the job done with our momentum as no one wants the lottery of penalties!
We pushed forward and controlled the second half of extra time. Just a minute in, a neat one two with Paul found me in the area on my own and I dispatched the ball into the bottom corner…. Pandemonium from our bench followed, because for the first time since the 5th minute we led the game!! Just a minute later we were 8-6 up following a nice move involving myself, Alessandro and Harry who despatched the ball at the back post. A typical Futsal goal now had us just 3 minutes from taking the cup!
We defended like trojans and shut down every Warwick move and even under the press moved the ball well and played with composure. Our positive approach allowed us to finish up with 20 seconds on the clock by making it 9-6. Vytas worked himself some room via a corner and between us we managed to get the ball home after some last gasp Warwick defending…. In scoring my 5th of the game, we’d secured the cup, 3 goals in 20 seconds was too much for us to throw away and we knew it!! After a remarkable game we’d done it (VIDEO BELOW FOR FINAL GOAL AND FINAL BUZZER).
I haven’t given Diabetes all that much air time during the game, because guess what….. It didn’t get much air time during that final. Once I sorted out the pre game hypo, I did 1 check at half time to ensure things were fine and that was all that was needed.
After such an awful 12 months with injury, and with my family watching, it was a pleasure to play like I did and help the Uni get their hands on a cup. You don’t get many chances to play in cup finals and win trophies so when you score 5 and have such a positive effect on the result it’s special. I was just so pleased for the lads after witnessing their development across the season to see them all be rewarded with a cup final win was great, after they’d supported me in coming back from my injury problems every step of the way.
To answer the title of the post… I don’t think it’s about getting it right 100% of the time, it’s about making sure Diabetes doesn’t impact the important parts! It came together when I needed it to but not without the challenges. Remain calm, react appropriately and enjoy every moment! I definitely left the Diabetes on the back seat of the car during the game and allowed myself to enjoy the occasion and express myself. Diabetes or not, nothing was holding me back on cup final day.
My Cup Final Top Tips (From my experience, not endorsed by a Healthcare Professional):
Keep your mind off the game until the hours before it. If you focus on it too early, you may put too much pressure on yourself or get over excited.
Test as regularly as possible.
Carb load the day before.
Hydrate well on the day.
Remember to take it all in… Win or Lose you’ve done amazingly well to get there and it’s a match you don’t want to forget.
Keep a consistent routine with your Diabetes. Play this match just like any other, however be prepared that levels may be erratic due to the emotions of a final having an effect.
Try and enjoy the occasion rather than get nervous about trying to perform. It’s just a game of Futsal/Football and you’ve probably played hundreds before this one! (I’ve made this mistake before!)
Smile and tell yourself you’re there because you deserve to be.
On one of the most important days in the calendar for people with Diabetes, I wanted to share a small snippet of my story represented by these 2 photos. I was at very different stages of my life with Type 1 Diabetes in both images and they both really help me reflect on what it’s been like to live with a chronic medical condition.
The photo on the left: A scared kid (10 years old) one year after diagnosis still struggling to find his feet with it all, who was battling away to play football and compete with the other kids. Still doing well and holding trophies aloft but the management, the hypos and the worries of adjusting to this new way of life were dreadful…. My potential in what I could do in school and with my football was hindered and I remember being upset numerous times asking “Why me? Why has this happened to me?” It led me to years of never openly talking about it through fear of judgement and lack of understanding. Kids can be cruel, and at times they were, so I tried to keep my head down and didn’t tell people about it until I absolutely had to. Ultimately I didn’t really accept who I was and what I had properly….
Fast forward that to the photo on the right: 16 years later, and this is where I proved myself wrong. I think it took me until the moments when I played for my country at futsal for me to truly believe type 1 Diabetes wouldn’t hold me back. Something you battle with 24/7 will always be carried around with you like a chip on your shoulder, which I used to fuel the fire of my motivation. I put in the hard work, learning and dedication to managing my diabetes to help achieve what I had set my heart on within my sport. I’m by no means the best footballer, futsal player or example of type 1 diabetic control, but I learnt from my mistakes, persevered and never gave up believing in goals I set myself. By achieving those goals it gave me the confidence to open up about my condition and I now don’t shy away from sharing the trials and tribulations of what I live with, to help educate and advocate for greater awareness.
I’m just a normal 27 year old, who’s worked extremely hard to get the things done in my life that others may take for granted or might not think are that impressive. When you’re type 1 diabetic just going through a day without having a hypo is impressive!!!
I try to ensure I’m driving the car of my life and my chronic medical disability sits on the backseat where I know where it is, but it doesn’t affect the direction of where I’m heading.
So what’s my lasting message for World Diabetes Day ?
Don’t let it define you… be open and talk to others about what you’re going through. It changed my life opening up about it and I’ve now got better control of my condition than ever before. Be brave, be determined and use Diabetes to power your motivation to keep moving forward. Yes it can be tough, but with the right attitude it’s just an extra hurdle to jump, not a mountain to climb.
Let’s talk, educate and raise awareness this world Diabetes day.
The 6th of September 1999. A normal Monday for most, but a day I’ll never forget. At the age of 8, this was the day I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
18 years on I’m writing my reflections on living with type 1 Diabetes for all that time. For one, I’m still here, so I must be doing something right! On my 18th birthday I remember going out and partying with my friends, but I’m not sure I’m too keen on throwing my Diabetes a party… However there are a few things that I will thank Diabetes for on this occasion.
It’s not an easy existence having diabetes but it certainly doesn’t have to stop you doing a lot in life and I’ve tried to make sure this is a philosophy I live by.
Having lived with the condition for all this time I can definitely appreciate that it’s made my life harder, which to my friends and peers hasn’t always been apparent. A lot of the struggles are behind
closed doors and are unseen by many. It’s a condition which means you never switch off from it and never get a break. A 24/7 battle that most of the people you come into contact with don’t know is happening.
However with this being an 18th diaversary, I feel like it should be a celebration rather than talking about the hardships.
So what positives has it brought to my life?
Without doubt it’s made me mentally stronger. Overcoming a condition which tests your ability to live on a daily basis has made value the positivity in my life and made me far more resilient. Most importantly it’s made me more determined and motivated to overcome it, to compete and surpass my peers. Having something which is set up to hold you back can often be the thing that drives you forward. It has with me!
One thing I can’t ignore are the Friends I’ve made through the Diabetes Online Community (#DOC), whom I never would have met had it not been for this illness. The commonality we share in living with this condition is a bond I’ve never been able to share with anyone. Who else knows what it’s like to wake up 4 times in one week at 4:30 am because you’re struggling with your insulin dose which is leading to nocturnal hypoglycaemia? Finding and adding these people to my life has helped me accept the condition fully, which even after the previous 17 years with it, I’m not sure I’d found myself. They have helped me do that and for that I will always be grateful.
And then there is TDFC. When I contemplate its existence and impact since creation it fills me with immense pride and happiness. I only wish I’d had the idea & the confidence to do it sooner. I’m so pleased with how it continues to develop and the projects we’ve got coming up are so exciting. Helping to support a community of people who have welcomed me with such open arms is an absolute pleasure and I’m hoping my own introduction and that of TDFC has been a positive addition which we will grow!
The last thing to say is Happy Diaversary to my Diabetes! The condition I wish I didn’t have, but have so much to thank for.
This is a question which I’ve struggled to answer for a long time. Is Diabetes a Disability in my eyes? As many will already know Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus is by law an “Unseen Disability” which has the ability to significantly impact the lives of the people that have it. It’s power to disrupt and harm the people that live with it, in my opinion, is underestimated by much of society. As much as I strongly believe that you’re able to overcome the condition to achieve great things, there will always be the lasting effects and scars of living with Diabetes which challenge normality. I find this a really testing subject and one which in my experience has divided views amongst the diabetic community.
As always though, I don’t shy away from expressing my opinion on the difficult subjects. However I fear I might still be on the fence with this one.
When a law states that a condition falls into the parameters of Disability it’s hard to argue with the reasons behind that decision. When I consider my own life and its impact, there’s no doubt that despite getting used to the difficulties, the interruptions shouldn’t be overlooked.
Let’s consider some of those moments when I firmly believe this condition I live with makes it feel like a Disability. What about when you’re woken up in the middle of the night, sweating, suffering a hypoglycaemia that causes a headache which lasts all day? Losing 2/3 hours sleep trying to correct your glucose levels in the middle of the night back into range? Or when I’m forced off the football pitch because my glucose levels are dangerously out of range? Or when it stops me from driving and holds me up for an hour and a half whilst I recover? Or when my vision blurs and I lose some of my coordination?
Whilst these are just a few examples there’s no doubt that when any of these things occur, life can feel constrained, as Diabetes presents itself as a Disability.
I think it bores down to the potential the condition has to impact on someone’s life… Although I’ve done ok for myself in terms of my achievements, this condition has the potential to have a devastating impact on someone’s life, and in the most unfortunate circumstances it can be fatal. I think for those who are given the opportunity to maintain reasonable control of the condition it can feel like Diabetes doesn’t hold you back much, if at all, and doesn’t really reflect that “Disability” tag. However for those who may be unlucky and are unable to manage it, its unquestionable the debilitating effect it has.
If it didn’t impact on my life whatsoever I’m not sure I would’ve spent so much time hiding my Diabetes through the fear of judgement. I always wanted to merit my achievements on my ability and not my disability. I always felt it was another hurdle to jump over, which would mean I would just need to work harder than everyone else to achieve my goals.
There’s no doubt whichever way I try to answer the question I find myself sat back on the fence on this one. It’s a condition which will never be the same for everyone and in turn will never have the same effects on someone’s life. I’ve been lucky enough to live a life where I’ve been able to keep it under control for the most part and not let it affect my outlook and approach. There are many others who aren’t as lucky as I am and I appreciate that….
If I pose myself the question again “is Diabetes a Disability to me?” I’m still not sure!!!
I always viewed my diabetes as an extra hurdle to jump rather than a mountain to climb! I’ve worked incredibly hard all my life to achieve the things I have and I believe it’s time I tried to share some of my experience with people who go through the same struggles, or may go through those struggles in the future.
I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1999 (at the age of 8) and upon diagnosis my very first question was “can I still play football?” Luckily I had an exceptional diabetes nurse who gave the answer I wanted, being “yes”, but she readied me to ensure I knew how hard it would be to live out the dreams of playing football at the highest level. I’m sure I’m not alone in this first question, as in that incredibly scary moment when you know your life is changed forever, you just want reassurance that you can still live out those childhood dreams. I think healthcare professionals need to ensure they know how important these first words to a Child are when diagnosed with a life changing medical condition. They can quite literally be life determining.
From that moment I had choice, I could crumble and let the daily worry, testing and sport related hypos destroy my resolve or I could come out fighting. I did the latter!
As a child, I found it difficult to manage my football on 2 injections a day on mixture insulins, they created all sorts of peaks and troths with my glucose levels which made it extremely difficult to predict where they would be when you needed them to be stable for sport. My family and I went through lots of trial and error and learning from my mistakes but I was still battling away and achieving things but probably not to my capability as I believe it was holding me back slightly.I still managed to captain my school football team and captain my district team. I need an improvement in my management to help me kick on a gear.
Things then changed hugely when at around 14/15 years of age I changed to the basal / bolus regime. The flexibility to adapt my life more easily around my diabetes whilst making me feel more energetic took me onto the next level in my sport. It was a huge development for my control at a difficult time as a teenager but it really enhanced my control of the condition and supported my development within my sport as I broke into county squads and showed promising signs at a club level.
I then left school had trials with professional football teams, which never quite worked out, as injuries and diabetes found a way of scuppering me, but I honestly don’t think I was quite ready either. This then led me into the semi professional game with Bromsgrove Rovers where I got the opportunity to play at Step 4 of the non league structure, whilst during the same period of time I played for the Worcestershire FA u18s county side, travelling around the country playing for them. My performance in this time had kicked up a gear due to the regime change in controlling my diabetes and my commitment to defy the odds and enjoy football never slipped. I didn’t want to let anything stop me achieving and continued to test myself to see what level I could reach.
A big step in many young people’s lives is going to University but it’s probably even bigger when you try and tackle it with something like Diabetes. A testing time on blood glucose control, as the lifestyle of a student is somewhat erratic! Combining that with football games being at different times of the day, which challenges the routine you have set up for matches, it added even more complexity to an already testing time in life.
I went to Worcester University to study my degree in sport, which I loved every second of. I was even lucky enough to write my dissertation about the effects of exercise on blood glucose levels in type 1 diabetics and non diabetics!! It was another life changing experience which I look upon so fondly and representing the university’s 1st team and winning a league title in my final year was the icing on the cake.
However it doesn’t stop there, as with anything I do, I never stop pushing myself!
I continued as I left university to play for semi professional football clubs in my local area (Bromsgrove Sporting FC, Pershore Town FC, Southam United FC, Earlswood Town FC) and enjoyed some great cup finals playing at the Ricoh arena (Coventry City FC stadium) and playing at the bescot (Walsall FC stadium).I then had an opportunity to take up Futsal through a friend of mine who was playing for one of the football clubs I was at. He’d thought it would suit the way I played football and suggested it would be a good idea.
In my first full season at the highest level in England (2014/15) I won player of the year at my club (Birmingham Tigers Futsal club) and scored 15 goals in 15 games. I was hooked and enjoying it. However it did throw up some difficulties with my blood glucose levels as the intensity was very different to football (faster, shorter bursts)! I learnt a lot about blood glucose control for Futsal in those first 18 months and it clearly didn’t affect my performance. Following my amazing first season I was called up to train with the Wales national team. An amazing honour!
I then trained throughout the summer of 2015 with the squad on and off until disaster struck and I tore my groin the last session before selection. I was devastated.
However I was patient and optimistic in my approach and I received the opportunity again to train with the squad during the summer /autumn 2016. This time the opportunity didn’t pass me by! I trained well and was called up for the first time to the squad to play Latvia! I won my first cap for Wales on November 1st 2016. I was then also part of the first home nations Wales Futsal squad in December. We won the inaugural championships to! Bitter sweet as I broke my foot during one of the games though!
Despite the injury heartache, it’s something I’m so so so proud of and having had diabetes it’s made the journey harder but as they say, “the best view at the top, always comes after the hardest climb”! My god have I had a climb to get to what I have done, but when I say that the view was incredible, it really was and it continues to be! Only my nearest and dearest see what I go through on a daily basis, everyone else just sees the smile and positive attitude that drives me to achieve. It’s an invisible condition which can be so devastating without the right attitude, correct management and the support of the people around you. My unsung heroes in all of it continue to be my family and anyone growing up with a medical condition like Diabetes would be lucky to have one like mine, who encouraged me to live life like a normal person, whilst ensuring I looked after my condition.
This is why the Diabetes Football Community has been introduced. I want to be able to support people wanting to play, and that are interested in football, who suffer with diabetes. I’m hoping it will fill the void which I felt was missing when I was growing up. It’s somewhere to turn to for reassurance, for advice and guidance and a firsthand experience of combining diabetes with football, one of the UK’s biggest diseases with the UK’s biggest sport.
It’s a huge honour to be doing something like this and in some ways my biggest challenge yet. I’m hoping I can put something back into the community and raise awareness of the condition to ensure diabetics can feel an extra level of support when combining the condition with football.
You can find me on my social media accounts :
brighty08 on instagram
@chrisbrighty on twitter
Or if you want to check out “The Diabetes Football Community” it’s on Facebook : @thediabetesfootballcommunity or on Twitter: @TDFCdiabetes